Manager shakes hands with his interviewer in an executive interview. They are standing next to a big table, and both wear black clothes.To interview for an executive position is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In a final interview, you will meet a panel of high executives from the company. To impress them, you will need more than just a good resume…

But before you even get a chance to talk to them, you will have to pass several rounds of interviews. Typically a screening interview (over the phone, with an HR manager or HR generalist, or agency recruiter), a face to face interview (they will ask you mostly behavioral questions in this stage). On the top of that, you will have to pass personality testing (optional, some companies do not use personality testing).

Check the respective articles to understand how to prepare for screening and behavioral interview. In this post, we will focus on the final interview, the one with the decision makers.


Five tough questions and how to answer them


Question 1: What is your management philosophy?

A good executive always has their philosophy. You should have your own way of doing things, leading people, and the company. You should also have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in the company and which direction you plan to take after they hire you. At this point, it is time to present your vision. Do it clearly, talk to the point, and show them that you can decide on your own, and are ready to lead the company.


Three executives interview a job applicant for a senior position. We can see two men and one woman in the interviewing panel.Question 2: Tell me about your biggest success and failure

Successes and failures belong to the life of an executive. You should show them that you take neither the first nor the second as something definite, that you can look at things from distance. Try to emphasize the lessons you learned from your successes and failures, and how they helped you to become a better leader, and to make better decisions in work.


Question 3: How would you tackle the challenge we face right now? (they describe some challenge, or goal of their company)

The key is to show your project management skills. Analyze the situation, share with them your ideas, start a discussion. Show them that you can think analytically, set milestones, and actually come up with an idea on a good solution of their problems.


Question 4: Why did you leave your last job (why do you want to leave your present job)?

Fresh graduates do not typically apply for executive jobs. You likely left your job, or plan to leave it if they hire you for this position.
Try to avoid talking about a better salary, or talking badly about your former employer. You can say that you simply seek a new challenge, or that you believe you are in a stage of your career when you deserve the executive job, that you are ready for the position. One way or another, try to focus on the future, not on the past.


Question 5: If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you do?

Jo interview in a modern office building. The interviewer sits in front of his laptop and listens to a job candidate. We can see some buildings behind the window.

Another test of your attitude to work. Executive represents the company, but they are also bound to make decisions, the most important decisions actually. You can tell them that you would start with an analysis of company financial statements and cash flow, and talking to the managers from all departments, to understand the actual situation. Then you will take steps accordingly.


Talking experience, and behavioral questions

They may discuss your experience with you, various projects you have worked on before, especially those that somehow relate to their core business. Some executives in a final interview will also ask you behavioral questions, trying to understand how you cope with conflict, stress, deadlines, etc. You can find a list of the common behavioral questions in this article.