You’ve worked with an Executive Marketing Expert to create a successful strategy to find a new executive-level job or C-level position. You’ve re-done your resume, and repackaged your skill set to sell yourself to the search committees, HR directors, and recruiters. You’ve been found. You’ve made it through the initial review process and have landed the interview. And here you thought it was getting the interview that was the hard part. How job candidates at any level handle their interview in the highly competitiveness of today’s job market will determine how long you stay unemployed or whether you receive a job offer. Knowledge is power, be prepared for the questions they will ask and have a few of your own.
1. What Should I Know about You?
This is your 30 second elevator speech. In 30-60 seconds you should be able to tell the recruiter about yourself, why they should hire you, why do you want to work for the company, and how you would fit into the companies continued success. An executive job seeker should be prepared for this inevitable question. Don’t leave your answer to chance or off the cuff. Tailor each answer prior to each new job interview and practice your elevator speech on professionals.
BEFORE the interview. Your husband or wife doesn’t count. It should flow and roll off your tongue with ease.
2. What Do You Consider Your Weaknesses?
I don’t know or I don’t have any are truly not an acceptable answer. Nor is a pat cliché response of I am a workaholic or I’m a perfectionist. Even most interviewers understand the limitations of these questions. They are asking to see how you handle it. No one expects you to details all the negative elements of your personality, like I am difficult to work with and am not a team player. Your answer allows them to see if you as a job applicant if you posses such key qualities as humility, sincerity, self-awareness, zest and skill set in managing both short comings and mistakes. It’s imperative to not reveal key weaknesses that interviewers might otherwise notice on their own. Remember, that this question is a way to actually highlight your strengths.
A successful response to this question can help the executive job seeker distinguish themselves and stand out from the pack.
3. What Do You Consider Your Strengths?
What are you good at? What makes you stand out from the next candidate? What do you have to offer this particular company. How does your existing skill set fit their corporate structure?
Determine your skills based on your personality traits, knowledge based skills, and transferable skill set.
a. your Personality Traits( are you a team player, flexible, punctual)
b. Knowledge Based Skills (based on education and experience – computer skills,
specialized training, or degrees)
c. Transferable Skills (the skills you take from job to job, planning and strategy skills)
Choose 3-5 strengths that the potential employer is seeking in their executive job posting. Give specific examples to demonstrate that strength if questioned further. Scripting your answers to these questions allows you to answer clearly and with confidence.
4. What Are Your Salary Requirements?
This question is a potential mind-field, and needs to be handled carefully and with tact. I’m flexible won’t cut it, it’s vague and non-committal. Don’t say at my last position my salary was….. If you state a salary base outside of the potential employers range your executive job candidacy is over. You need to have done your research, not only on the company but your executive niche market. It will make a difference if the company is a start-up vs a Fortune 1000 or 500 company. Where the company is located in the country will also make a difference. You need to determine what is the going rate in your job market for your specific skill set, then position your salary requirements within the going rate, based on the company and the company location. It’s imperative that you do your homework. You can determine your salary once you have a successful job offer.
5. Why Are You Currently Unemployed?
This is a touchy question that can also be followed up with, how long have you been unemployed? First and foremost tell the truth. Don’t try and cover up why you left your last position. Cover-ups rarely work and usually lead to embarrassment. Also your response should be positive, this is not the place to air grievances for being down-sized, involuntarily terminated or merged out of your last executive position. You need to have an answer if you have been out of the job market for a long time or it’s been over 6 months since you where last employed at the executive level.
Fortunately, your executive marketing experts can help you prepare for your interview. You can work with your marketing coach, go through a mock interview and receive feedback on how well you answered a specific question. And if you need improvement, practice makes perfect.