As an executive preparing for an interview you will no doubt be trying to cover all the fundamental areas to give yourself a fair chance of winning the day: research the company, products, industry, competition and mission statement; thoroughly revise your work history, taking into account reasons for leaving and match your own talent skills and past experiences to the job description.
But what kind of interview questions should you expect?
If you are at executive level then it is no doubt you have probably sat through many interviews before. You perhaps have become accustomed to the traditional questions such as “what is your greatest weakness?”; “name a time when you have successfully led a team?” etc. etc. So, this is going to be pretty easy, right? Over the years, you have amassed some pretty cool answers to those tired old questions which continue to do the rounds year after year. So why shouldn’t it be easy?
Time to show you can think outside of the box
Well, you may be in for a bit of a surprise. A managerial or executive position asks for someone whose talents, skills, and personality are quite a bit above the norm. You need to be able to think on your feet and outside the box. And that is what your interviewers will be trying to test you on.
There is a chance that the setting will not be like the formula interview scenario. It is perhaps more likely to be in the form of a relaxed discussion rather than a set question and answer session. There will of course need to be questions, but they will be on the fly – coming at you when you least expect it. For the interviewer, this is a good way of checking out a candidate’s mettle for dealing with crisis situations and coming up with innovative and imaginative solutions on the spot.
And those interview questions are likely to be ones you have never heard before. They are likely to make you think long and hard because they may be just that little bit weird. It will sort out the clever thinkers with something to say from those who follow and are just along for the ride.
Let’s take a look at some interview questions…
So what kind of interview questions are you likely to get thrown at you? Well, because this part of the interview is meant to be unique, we are not going to be coming up with any set posers. But what we can do is look at some real stinkers and assess what they were supposed to tell the interviewer about you. You may not get exactly the same question, but if you recognise this kind of question in your interview, it may well give you a pointer in the right direction*.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
There is a strong psychological argument that says you have to know who you are in order to stand by strict principles and lead others. This question is useful in sifting out those people who really have a good handle on their own identity. Also, those candidates who panic and come out with the first word that comes into their head may regret it later… Stay cool and give your self time in order to come up with the best answer. No-one said the answer had to be on the tip of your tongue.
What is your favourite animal…and why?
This question is a bit out of the box, but again it makes the candidate think sideways…if they can. It shows imagination, empathy and creativity depending on the answer given. It also shows quick thinking under pressure and an understanding of oneself. Answers may come easier than you think as we tend to like animals that rightly or wrongly project behaviours we see in ourselves. And there is no right or wrong answer – it is the process you go through and the positive solution you come up with that matters.
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
For those of us into a gothic futuristic world, you may well have a formulated a precise plan already. But for the most of us, this question could result in shocked silence. Again, because it is so right of centre it is meant to find out how people deal spontaneously with emergency situations. So, watch out for those weird posers. Don’t think further than the question in hand.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
This question is designed to find out what is at the core of your thinking. Why you come to work. What are the rewards? What turns you off? The answer will be related to the type of work you will be expected to do and your overall reason for working for that individual company and industry. There needs to be strong answers as managers often have to work alone and therefore need to be self-starters.
Sitting here in 12 months-time, what would we have achieved together?
In answering this question, you will be telling your interviewers a lot about your self-confidence, self-esteem, understanding of the work you will be doing and also your vision. Only someone who is truly passionate about the job role will be able to talk in significant detail.
Tell me something that is true, that almost nobody agrees with you on
This question probably speaks for itself – but fore-warned is fore-armed. This considers how much faith you have in your own belief system and how strongly you will stand by it even when you stand alone (as you probably will need to sometimes in a management role). It shows how confident you are, gives pointers as to your self-esteem and can highlight whether you are likely to be just a follower rather than a leader.
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