Hiring the Best:
Executive Interview Guide
As part of our leadership recruitment guide, we have discussed recruitment methods to assess and find the very best candidates, as well as the need to thoroughly research and analyse the role requirements. But, as well as using the best recruitment processes and methodology, you need to create an outstanding interview. This will help you to begin to understand and learn about the potential employee in the context of the specific skills or competencies needed to do the job.
Our executive interview guide offers step-by-step guidance about how to plan and conduct your interview. We don’t believe in asking unrealistic questions, such as those on The Apprentice. Putting candidates under undue stress or anxiety does little than assess how they deal with pressure within a very specific context and should be used very rarely. We believe it’s important to help a candidate feel at ease, so they can give a true reflection of their ability.
Planning And Preparing For The Interview
Ensure people within your company are trained in how to interview properly. Identify the key competencies required for the job and then select the most appropriate questions to focus on during the interview. Organise the logistics and gather all relevant documentation, reviewing the candidate’s CV and/or application in advance of the interview.
Planning an interview that will uncover the skills, qualities and competence of a candidate is crucial, as the cost of hiring the wrong employee can be as high as £8200 — and this is for low level roles! For a mid-to-senior executive, this amount is even higher. Use our executive interview guide to make sure you don’t make any costly mistakes.
Ask The Right Questions
Anybody can list off what they believe their strengths are and what three words describe them. You need to dive much deeper during executive interviews. Start by asking a few opening questions to help the candidate feel at ease and get the conversation flowing. Then, delve into your pre-prepared competency questions, asking for lots of examples of previous work and relevant situations to obtain as much evidence as you can. Probe their answers and ask other follow-up questions around highlighted areas of potential strength or weakness.
Want the best specific questions to plan your executive interviews? Read the leadership behavioural interview guide from Davis Associates. This delves into the competency-based questions you should ask when conducting an interview. These types of questions are very revealing and can help you with the recruitment process.
Disagree with the Candidate
The founder of Paint Nite believes that the best way to see what a candidate is like in an interview is to disagree with them. An executive needs to be able to deal with pressure and people challenging them. How do they react in that situation? Although taking somebody out of their comfort zone may be tough, it can demonstrate valuable characteristics and the operational style of a candidate. If you choose to go down this route, make sure you do it appropriately and within the context of the discussion.
Get Them to Do Some Problem Solving
An executive will have to deal with a variety of problems, so how well do they handle them? You don’t need to provide an in-depth issue, but creating a simple problem-solving challenge can be very revealing. It also requires them to think on their feet. Remember to only do this if quick problem-solving forms one of the critical competencies you highlighted as part of your earlier job analysis.
Summarise and Take Notes
Listen intently. Reflect back your understanding of what the candidate said. This helps bring clarity but also acts as a prompt for the candidate to add anything further before you then move on to the next question. Write lots of notes. We often miss or forget important points if it’s not written down and there is the added danger of layering their responses with our own interpretation of events. At this stage, avoid assessing or evaluating their behaviour.
Assessing the Candidate
Try to do this as soon after the event as possible, whilst the information is still fresh in your mind. Objectively analyse the evidence across each of the competencies and decide whether the evidence will have a positive or negative impact. It is then important to rate the candidate across each competency (usually on a 1 to 5 basis). This is often referred to as a Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS). Monitor your own performance for adverse impact or potential bias.
Combine Your Interview with Other Competency-Based Exercises
Combining your interview with other assessments, such as a strategic presentation or negotiation role play, helps provide additional, first-hand behavioural evidence across your range of critical role competencies. For senior-level roles, an executive assessment might be the best route to take.
Be Prepared for Their Questions
Any top candidate will come prepared with their own questions. For an executive position, expect a lot of questions about the business and the role. A candidate might already be in a company they love and feel reluctant to leave. Why should they choose to work for your business? An interview is a two-way dialogue, so be prepared for this.
The Davis Associates team are experts in competency-based assessment techniques. As a top HR consultancy in London, we can help you hire the very best leaders for your business.
Develop your soft-skills and self-awareness with feedback from an expert Business Psychologist.
Get in touch with us now for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Client Case Studies
We Can Help You
Whatever the size of your organisation Davis Associates can help you select, develop, coach, and train the best people.
What our clients say
Thank you for giving me the feedback in such a helpful way that now I feel more inspired and motivated than ever to make a change which was long overdue!
Clinical Research PhysicianSynexus
Thank you very much for taking the time to go through the feedback in detail. You have managed to pick up most of my main strengths but also the areas I know I need to work on. Such feedback can be life changing and I know in my case it will be.
Clinical Research PhysicianSynexus
“There are times when through words a person gains true clarity. Today really seems like the tipping point in my life. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, I really believe that through action this could be the turning point of my career!“
Section HeadOoredoo Telecoms, Oman
I found the session incredibly useful and it certainly proved thought provoking. I believe it was actually an epiphany for me! I fully intend to implement the areas discussed which will require modification of my behaviours and am committed to developing my skillset and becoming a more rounded leader.
Regional Business ManagerFerring Pharmaceuticals