Interview Questions You Can’t Afford Not to Ask When Hiring Senior Execs

interview questions

The Telling Answers Come from the Best Questions

The interview questions you ask when hiring for senior execs could be the make or break of a successful hire. And a poorly vetted senior position could be very costly to your company.

A Harvard Business Review publication pointed out that as much as 80% of employee turnover is down to poor hiring decisions. And you know where many of these are made? In the interview room.

Asking the wrong questions will leave ill-fitting candidates undetected and in line to cost your company an estimated 30% of an employee’s first-year earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Here are seven questions you must ask when interviewing senior executives.

What You Can Learn from a Candidate’s Answers

An interview during an executive search is a little like going on a date. You have a small window to figure out who this person is, and whether it’s worth taking things further.

On the outside, all looks promising – the resume shows a fine build of skills and expertise. But equally important is what’s on the inside. Your questions should help unveil a candidate’s attitude that will endure a long-lasting relationship with the company.

Asking the right questions will teach you about their:

  • Coachability
  • Motivation
  • Temperament
  • Emotional intelligence

Do the candidate’s answers gel with your company culture? How they respond could give you all the clues you need to learn more about their key attributes – personality, leadership style, knowledge of industry, and future goals and motivations – and how they support a great match for a senior executive role in your company.

Interview Questions You Must Ask

Here are the seven interview questions you must ask, and why.

1.     “What are the key issues facing the industry right now?”

Having in-depth knowledge of the challenges the company faces is crucial for survival and competitive stance for your company in a volatile world. Being a senior exec isn’t all about success. It’s about knowledgeable preparation for potential failures too, and knowing how to steer a company through stormy currents both forecast and unexpected.

2.     “What are the company’s biggest challenges and opportunities that will impact its strategic direction over the next 5 years?”

Has this candidate done their research on the company, or are they just applying for status? A winning candidate will have a genuine attachment to the company’s hurdles and goals, with passionate and realistic pitches. They’ll bring fresh ideas and solid strategies that bode well with the company’s vision and culture.

3.     “Why do you want to work at our company?”

Perks, benefits, or salary are not the correct answer. “I think I could turn this company around,” is also potentially a red flag, especially if your company is comfortable in its direction.

Your ideal candidate should be invested in your employer brand and aspects that set you aside, such as a diversified workforce, signature foundations, non-profit targets, or personal connection to the product or service. They should connect with the mission and vision of the company and convey why.

4.     “What excites you about this role?”

Discover what drives this individual. What is it that motivates them, and has consequential positive effects on the people they will lead? Does their personal mission and vision reflect that of the company’s?  They must be able to convey how they will strategically and operationally improve the organization through their rare skillset.

5.     “Who are some of the most influential leaders that have shaped you as a business leader today?”

Knowing the history of the candidate’s experience to date provides great insight into their motivations and emotional intelligence. Explaining how certain leaders influenced them will unlock many truths about a candidate’s personality. Conversely, beware if they are unable to site mentors and influential leaders.

6.     “How do you define success in this position?”

Does their answer match what you consider as success for the business? You’ll also learn more about the candidate’s goals professionally (and, perhaps, personally), to ensure both parties are investing in a long-term role. This will provide insight into their personal expectations of success and their ramp up plan.

7.     “Do you have any questions for me?”

If a candidate has no questions, perhaps they’re not as interested as you’d expect from a senior executive. Someone who has a genuine interest in the company and role will have various questions, such as what you would expect from them to achieve immediately and long term, or if you’d have time to allow them an introduction to those they’ll be working closely with, should they be offered the position.

Interview Only the Best for Senior Exec Vacancies

The pressure isn’t only on the interviewee to respond with the right answers. It’s also on your interviewing panel to ask the right questions. Only then will you really establish an individual’s personality that will define how they perform in a senior exec role.

Your strongest advantage is to ensure you have the best, most talented candidates in your interview room in the first place. Then clearly define the interview process, panel, questions, steps, assessments, timing, deal breakers, areas of flexibility, final decision maker, all prior to starting the search.

Working with you, we will get to know you and your business needs better than any recruiter before. This helps us find the talent that will excel in the role you wish to fill – candidates who are perfect for your company, too. Senior execs who will influence and affect your business’s ability to increase its competitive advantage and drive success.

Quote from a recently satisfied Chairman of the Board, “All the candidates I have seen are great prospects and very qualified. Each one of them would be an asset to the company, and all uniquely benefit the company in various ways. I commend you on a job well done, the quality of your candidates is very high.”

Contact us here at Lincoln Group and we’ll get the ball rolling on finding your perfect match.

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