List of Common Executive Interview Questions Likely to be Asked

Preparation is key for success at executive interviews, so it is essential for executives to try and anticipate what questions are going to be asked. There are only a certain number of core questions that can be asked at executive interview and some crop up a lot of the time. Many questions tend to be scenario based by assessing an understanding of situations, related decision-making rationale and key actions taken to achieve a particular target, task or objective.

Equally, questions may fundamentally cover the same topic, but the emphasis or the way the question is asked may change depending on circumstances at interview or approach used. As well as anticipating questions, candidates must prepare credible examples showing how they influenced the wider organisation, made important decisions, demonstrated clear expertise / skills and established a long track record of achievement. In essence, how they add value and what they can bring to an organisation going forward.

Typical Executive Interview Questions List

To help prepare for executive interviews, we have highlighted a list of common interview questions likely to be asked in one way or another. This is not a definitive list and there are probably quite a few more to add. We have hopefully captured the main one’s.

Each question has the following format – ‘Tell me about a situation where you had to’

  • Lead or enforce change
  • Demonstrate innovative thinking and creativity
  • Overcame an important challenge or major problem
  • Use negotiation skills to find a solution to a problem
  • Where you have exceeded expectations
  • Built an important relationship (stakeholders)
  • Changed priorities to deliver results
  • Turned around and important situation
  • Face a difficult customer and how did you deal with it
  • Took initiative in a particular situation
  • Overcome a particularly stressful situation
  • Meet a challenging deadline
  • Motivate yourself to achieve goals (maintaining focus)
  • Disagree with colleagues and how you dealt with this (conflict / negotiation)
  • Lead / motivate a team on an important task
  • Demonstrate effective team working
  • Demonstrate strategic thinking / awareness
  • Use your communication / presentation skills
  • Demonstrate effective influencing skills
  • Demonstrate industry knowledge / expertise to good effect
  • Demonstrate advanced research / analysis or critical evaluation skills
  • Take an important decision under intense pressure
  • Manage sensitive issues and demonstrate empathy
  • Demonstrate your management / leadership style
  • Take on board criticism and what you learnt from it
  • Demonstrate effective listening skills
  • Demonstrate commercial awareness and judgement
  • Exceed challenging targets
  • Think on your feet (immediate decisions)
  • Demonstrate a clear vision to achieve something
  • Take an initial idea and developed it into something
  • How you dealt with a poor performing colleague
  • Demonstrate effective organisation skills
  • Plan ahead (strategic planning skills)
  • React to a crisis

Executive Interview Questions: Conclusion

These are just some of the likely areas to be covered at executive interviews. The idea is to give an overview, though we are keen to learn of experiences from other executives and for any questions that are particularly challenging to be added to the list. There are also some ‘one-off’, job-specific and what we call ‘curved-ball’ questions that can be asked, getting executives to really think about themselves in different ways during challenging executive interview situations.

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