As an executive recruiter, I interview hundreds of people every year for C-suite and senior executive roles.
Many of these candidates leave the interview feeling unhappy with their performance. It’s frustrating for them and, honestly, it’s frustrating for me to see good people drop out of contention because of a poor interview.
What really matters in an interview
By the time you’re at the interview stage, you’re usually on a shortlist of 4 to 6 great candidates that meet the client brief.
I know you have the right skills and experience to do the job, otherwise I wouldn’t be interviewing you.
So the interview is about getting to know you as a person, seeing if there’s a cultural fit between you and the company and ensuring that you can demonstrate that you have done what you have said you have done, done it well and are motivated to do it again!
As an executive recruiter our role is to minimise risk for the CEO and board. So how you “perform” in the interview forms part of the process.
If I’m interviewing you for a C-suite role, then I’m evaluating how well you communicate, because I know you’ll need to present to the Board, to key stakeholders and to staff.
The honest truth
A wooden, inarticulate or nervous candidate doesn’t come across as C-suite material.
I’m looking for someone who’s confident and can give thoughtful and meaningful answers to my questions.
A few mild nerves might be okay but, if you want to be the CEO or part of the executive team, those nerves can’t impair your ability to engage with your audience.
If you can’t present yourself well, how will you convince me that you’ll be effective as the face of the company or the face of management?
My top tip for interview success
My career coaching clients get bespoke interview skill training because it’s so important to interview well. I strongly recommend that you work to develop and practice your own interview skills. Be sure you make video recordings of yourself so you can review and improve.
But if that’s still not enough to make you a strong performer, then my top tip is to get some speaker training.
My experience shows there’s more value in learning to be a good speaker than in focusing on building confidence.
At C-suite level, people don’t usually lack confidence. What they can lack is the ability to express their point of view and persuade other people to share that point of view.
Having practical speaker skills under your belt will make you more confident and more relaxed going into an interview, because you’ll know you can get your message across.
There are plenty of speaker training courses available, but for CEOs and aspiring C-suite executives, Arete is running specialised speaker training with Australia’s #1 business speaker and author Andrew Griffiths. Find out more .
Every good leader is also a good communicator.
Speaker training is an investment in your career success – if you can nail the interview, you’ll prove you can nail the job.
Fiona Cochran is co-Founder and Managing Partner of Arete Executive, one of Australasia’s leading executive recruitment companies. She is an active member of Women on Boards, an alumni member of Queensland Leaders, a Fellow of Australian Institute of Management and a member of Career Directors International.
Fiona provides career coaching for executives who are seeking to win their job of choice with their employer of choice. For more information, contact [email protected] Follow Fiona and Arete Executive on LinkedIn for more useful information and resources.