Preparing for a job interview can be stressful. We will present the Senior Leadership Interview Question here in this article. Preparing for an interview for a senior leadership role can be doubly so. Of course, anyone in that position is already expected to have some serious experience and a solid resume. So what sets someone apart and makes them the candidate likely to bag the job? Here in this article, we look at some of the possible questions an applicant for an executive role might face and smart ways to answer them. We hope this will help whoever needs it and gets them the job they want.
When interviewing for senior leadership roles, companies are not just looking for good candidates. They want the best, which makes for steep competition. A company wants a candidate who fully understands the role they have applied for, has the requisite leadership and communication skill for the job and knows how to get it done. The executive they hire will be one of the figureheads of the company and will have a lot of influence within their organization. They need to understand that person’s leadership and management style and the sort of personality they have before going ahead because their leadership can and will impact the work culture and organizational structure of the company. That’s a huge responsibility right there.
Senior Leadership Interview Question
An interview for an executive position will likely focus less on the technical aspects of the job because it is taken for granted that an executive will know what they are doing. Instead, companies would want to know more about the candidate as a person, and the questions asked can be quite tricky. This is why we have compiled the following list of possible questions that can be asked in the interview. Read up on them and get a good idea of what a good answer to each of these questions should sound like:
- Tell us about a situation where something went wrong at work and how you helped make it right by taking charge.
This question is common in interviews for leadership roles. The interviewer wants to know whether the candidate has it to step up to a challenge and guide a team when the going gets tough. While the question may be put differently, the interviewer may ask about any past experiences as a leader or a general question about what makes a good leader. They mean the same thing. A candidate would do well to talk about past instances at work that shows that they can keep a positive attitude in bad times and lead from the front. A tendency to take a back seat in such situations and talk negatively about peers is looked down upon. The company wants someone passionate about leading and managing other people.
- When was the last time there was a conflict situation at work and how did you solve it?
The purpose of this question is to assess how good a candidate is at conflict resolution. Handling and sorting out conflict within the team or between an employee and a customer is an essential management skill. Too much-unresolved conflict can affect team morale and consequently can lower productivity. Candidates who can project an image of being a peacemaker and calm-headed are favored. Having the confidence to face conflict and work with people one does not necessarily agree with is a preferred skill. Bad-mouthing colleagues and being the cause for conflict is seen as a red flag.
- Tell us about a time when you had to do an unexpected task, something you’d never done before.
This is to test a candidate’s adaptability. Companies like to keep people who are flexible in adverse situations in leadership roles. Being able to face new challenges and thinking out of the box to develop solutions is a great asset to any leader. A candidate should indicate to the interviewer that they are willing to take on extra responsibilities and adapt to suitable tactics to deal with them. Abandoning the task, passing it on to others, and blaming other colleagues is not a mark of a good manager.
- How would you persuade people to do what you want?
Good negotiation skills are a must for a leader. If a candidate has had any experience of successfully negotiating between two or more parties at work without causing any conflict, now would be a good time to talk about it. The interviewer wants to know if the candidate has the capacity to convince people into doing things without upsetting them and can help people reach compromises where conflict seems possible. Bullying and threatening, and giving up on negotiations too easily is a bad idea. The interviewer should not feel that the candidate can resort to any of these undesirable tendencies.
- Tell us how you make decisions.
This is a particularly tricky question, so it’s best approached with caution. The mark of a good leader is to take tough decisions and see them through confidently. However, that does not mean that one should not stop and reflect upon their own decisions and modify them when necessary. Taking risks is a good thing, but being a serial risk-taker gives the impression of being whimsical and unreliable. Companies ideally look for candidates who can take risks and defend their decisions well. Being aware of the possible consequences of a particular decision and taking responsibility for it is a skill much admired by companies. A candidate should mention any such instance in their work experience, if there are any. Also, it’s good to outline one’s thinking process before the interviewer to show that one is level-headed and reliable.
- Tell us about your weaknesses.
The purpose of this question is to test a candidate’s self-awareness. Nobody likes people who tend to get too ahead of themselves. Presenting a well-balanced view of one’s shortcomings while also talking about the measures one has taken to combat them is advisable. Companies like honest candidates and upfront about themselves while also willing to improve themselves. This shows that they do not take anything for granted.
- Tell us more about your personal life.
This is a broad spectrum. The interviewer needs to judge the candidate’s personality traits, and they may ask some personal questions to assess the same. They may ask about the candidate’s hobbies to the people they look up to. The purpose of all these questions is the same; to understand what type of a person the candidate is. The traits that are looked for are confidence, level-headedness, tenacity, persuasive ability, and good people skills. So outlining the aspects of one’s life which showcase these abilities is the way to go. For example, if a candidate wants to outline their communication skills, it is good to mention that they regularly take part in debates and discussions.
- Tell us something about our company.
The interviewer wants to see if the candidate has done their research on the company before the interview. This will indicate to the interviewer whether the candidate is serious about the job and if they are willing to do a little extra research for it. This question can be asked differently, with the interviewer asking the candidate what they would like to change about the company if hired. While giving a directly negative answer is not advised, the best thing to do would be to talk about some aspects of the company that the candidate likes and what they would do differently.
- How do you assess your work?
It is important for the interviewer to know what parameters the candidate judges themselves by and whether those criteria meet the company’s needs. Furthermore, a candidate will likely assess the work done by others the same way they assess themselves and know the standard they hold themselves to assumes paramount importance for the company. Also, being in a leadership position means that few people will hold them accountable at all times. So it is necessary that this person has reasonably high standards of judgment and a critical eye for detail and can be trusted to carry out their duties diligently.
- What, in your opinion, makes a good leader?
This question is really tricky, for what the interviewer is really looking to get is the image the candidate has of themselves. It is easy to get carried away by this seemingly ‘easy’ question and rattle off some characteristics of a good leader off the top of the head, but that is not the path to be taken here. A candidate should first talk about a few essential qualities that they think a leader ought to have and subtly highlight how they would fit that role. The candidate should convey to the interviewer that they are confident about themselves and are willing to fulfill the role of a leader to the fullest.
Executive roles are challenging, and senior leaders and managers find themselves under pressure a lot. This is why an interview for a senior leadership role has tough questions that will make the candidate think, often on their feet. In all probability, a candidate may be asked to repeat the first two questions that were asked at the end of an interview to test their memory and ability to pay attention. The ultimate goal of the interview is to separate the wheat from the chaff and select the best person for the job.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much room do I have for making mistakes in an interview?
Interviewers are usually lenient with candidates as far as small mistakes are concerned. It is natural for someone to be nervous in a pressured environment, so don’t fret if you think you’ve said the ‘wrong’ sort of thing.
- How should I dress for an interview like that?
Well, it’s an interview for an executive role, so dress like one! Maintaining a professional appearance is important, as is appearing confident and likable.