As you begin preparing for your next interview, you may have noticed that there’s no shortage of support for graduates and junior-level professionals, but guidance on how to interview for a higher position can be challenging to find.
While you will likely be familiar with the interview process as an experienced professional, and understand how to showcase your skills and experience, you also need to convince your interviewer that you have the right cultural fit for their organisation. Remember, if you’ve made it to the initial interview stages competition can be high, and you'll be up against at least 4-5 other candidates.
Interview preparation can help you stand out and equip you with the knowledge you need to successfully represent yourself in the best way possible.
In this article, I’ve drawn on my experience working as an executive search expert to compile the most effective interview strategies for senior and executive roles.
You can expect:
- Recommendations drawn from my experience in executive search
- Easy-to-follow key strategies to help you learn how to set yourself apart
- Evergreen interview advice
Top senior-level interview preparation strategies
1. Conduct in-depth research
We all know research is essential for any job interview, so you can expect your fellow candidates to have done the same.
To stand out, you need to conduct in-depth research. This means leveraging your own business network to learn more about the company from the inside, studying recent news, press releases, financial reports, and the company registry. While some of this information is readily available, other aspects such as financial reports and the registry may require you to delve into publicly available records and databases.
This step may be time-consuming, but can massively impact your credibility as a potential new leader in the organisation.
2. Look to the future
Describe things from the company’s perspective (we, our) not from your own (I, mine). When you are talking about the organisation and providing examples, keep your focus on the future, not the past. You can do this by drawing on industry trends and predictions, market changes, and your ambitions for the company – including what you’ll do to achieve them. Of course, it’s important that you keep your predictions and ambitions realistic; your potential new company will be interested in how the changes you bring will shape yours and the company’s future.
3. Remain strategic
When exploring potential new avenues or concepts for the business, don’t get down to the most ground level of details. You want to present yourself as someone that is up to date and knowledgeable across every project stage, but your focus must remain on the higher-level tasks you will be responsible for.
4. Vision over the job description
Try to understand and embrace the vision senior leaders, and the company have, rather than focusing on the job description.
When offered the opportunity to provide your input into the interview, you should bridge into discussing what is yet to happen and the impact you can make to company growth, performance and success.
The first tip – in-depth research - is critical for this. Without understanding where the company is now, it will be harder to make accurate and meaningful projections for your own impact.
If you notice you have gone into too many details of previous roles, the conversation will have likely shifted into evaluation mode, where the interviewers will be analysing your behaviour. To bring things back, speak out about your vision for the company, and how it aligns with that of the organisations. This will help the interviewer imagine how your future in the company could support the wider business.
5. Don’t be too passive
Interviews are always a two-way evaluation process, this is especially the case when it comes to roles at an executive and senior level. Interviews are not just about your knowledge and experience; they are also about understanding how the company operates, how culture is actively cultivated and what that looks like, as well as what business path they’re following and whether their journey will be conducive to your career path.
The right decision relies on both you and the company getting the right information you need, so it’s important that you ask effective questions.
Doing this successfully will again rely on the detail and depth of your initial research. Draw on your insight and findings to ask more nuanced questions that help you go deeper in your exchange with your interviews.
If you ever notice that your questions are being dismissed, or going unclarified while the emphasis remains on evaluating you alone during the interview, it may be a sign that the company itself may not be the right match.
6. Lead the interview
This strategy draws on the point made above. An interview is not an exam, and relies on a two-way exchange. Leading the interview to a degree can be an effective way to demonstrate your leadership capabilities. When you notice you haven’t had the chance to cover an important area, create the opportunity to explore it further. Bear in mind, you are interviewing for a senior leadership role, and being able to set the direction of a discussion and handle any turns is an expected requirement for the position.
Evergreen interview advice
Preparation for every interview should involve the four key components below.
· Research the company and the market they’re in
· Have an “Elevator Pitch” prepared, proof-read and ready
· Think about your projects, and identify specific examples of your success, and other areas where you have overcome challenges.
· Identify your key career achievements
Looking for your next leadership opportunity?
Our Search by SRG Team are experts in STEM recruitment, and can help you find a role that suits you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our consultants will be in touch to arrange a call at a time that suits you.
About the author: Vlad Babych specialises in finding Medical Experts and PhD qualified candidates for Medical Affairs, Clinical Development and Pharmacovigilance domains Internationally.
Specialist Areas: Medical & Clinical Development
The typical roles Vlad recruits include: Medical Director, Medical Affairs Lead, Chief Medical Officer, Head of Medical Affairs, Medical Advisor/Manager, Head of Clinical Science, Clinical Lead, Clinical Study Physician, Pharmaceutical Physician, Drug Safety Physician, QPPV and Pharmacovigilance Scientists.