A man interviews for a job, talking. We can see a white laptop on the table. The picture illustrates an interview with a high executiveIf we speak about middle sized and big companies, you won’t meet with their CEO in an interview, unless you apply for an important role in a company, and it still won’t be in the first interview with them.

In small companies, however (less than 15 employees), CEOs can often lead every single interview, simply becasue they do not have in their team any skilled interviewers or HR managers, or becasue they do not trust anyone when it comes to hiring new employees. 

One way or another, the CEO is a person who typically cares the most for the success of the company, and you can be sure it won’t be easy with them. On the other hand, CEOs are not always skilled in interviewing job applicants, and if you manage to build a good connection with them in an interview, they may prioritize you to other candidates.

If you interview for a job in a big company, however, and it goes about the final interview (led by CEO), you can be sure that the employees from HR department informed the CEO about your strengths and weaknesses.


Unlike any other interview

CEO has a different way of thinking: They see you as a potential asset, and as a potential expense for the company. CEOs care mostly about the two things: revenues and expenses. If you convince them that the value you can bring to the company exceeds the money they will pay you on a monthly basis, they may hire you.

Try to demonstrate, on practical examples from your past working experience, how their company can benefit from having you in the team. That means:

  • Speaking about your achievements, from the point of view of your former employers. (Did you help to increase the revenue of the company? The level of customer satisfaction? Did you help to reduce expenses?)
  • Showing them that you understand their values, what they try to achieve in their business, and that you understand how you can help them achieve that.

What questions to expect from a CEO?

They will ask you mostly behavioral questions, and questions that relate to your past experience.

  • What have you done on a position XY? Can you tell me more about your specific duties and responsibilities?
  • Did you have any goals on a position XYZ? What were these goals? Did you achieve them?
  • Can you tell me more about the latest project you worked on? Did you face any problems?
  • What do you think matters the most in our business?
  • If your boss told you you were doing something wrong, but you knew you were doing it right, what would you do?
  • Describe a conflict you had with your colleague in the past.
  • How do you imagine your future in our company? What position would you like to have in five years time here?


Relationship matters

the CEO is thinking. We can see him holding his glasses in hand, lost in thought, while he tries to formulate his thoughts on a piece of paper. As I have already said, CEOs do not specialize in leading interviews. They like to hire people who care for their business, who talk about their business. They like to hire people they feel good with.

If you manage to build relationship with them, and give good answers to their behavioral questions, presenting the value you can bring to their company, they will hire you.

If you would like to see answers to some common behavioral questions, and learn how to build relationship wit your interviewers, check our Interview Success Package. You may have just one chance with the CEO, and you should do your best to get the job at the end of the meeting.