Interviews for senior-level executive roles differ from entry-level job interviews in many ways.
While being on time, having a strong handshake, and researching the company is enough to impress the recruiter when applying for junior positions, for senior executives is bar set higher.
Interviews for senior roles consist of multiple rounds, and getting to the next one is often a matter of tiny details.
To increase your chances of being invited to the next interview stage, make sure you avoid the seven following mistakes.
1. Mistake: You’re stating only general facts
You might think dropping names of the functions you previously held sounds admirable, but the truth is, titles don’t matter so much.
Mentioning them is a great way to exhibit your career highlights, but they shouldn’t be the main focus of your interview.
Saying you had been a CFO is remarkable, but noting which particular goals you managed to reach during that career is more impressive.
How to fix it: Focus on specific accomplishments.
Instead of telling who you are, focus on saying what you can do.
Your achievements in the previous positions are more important than the functions themselves.
The best way to describe your accomplishments is by storytelling. While people often forget plain facts and terms, good stories stick with them for good.
Before the interview, prepare narratives describing the problems you faced in the past and how you approached them. The conclusion should portray your ability to fix issues using your skills and talents.
2. Mistake: You’re talking too much about what you know
Displaying your skills and knowledge seems like a smart idea to make people appreciate your intellect, certificates, and education.
However, this behavior gives a subtle sign you’re a self-centered person forgetting about the bigger picture.
How to fix it: Focus on what you can bring to the company.
You’re not getting hired only because of what you know — you’re getting hired because the company can benefit from your talent in the first place.
Thus, quit talking about yourself and start concentrating on how you can improve the company.
Don’t be shy to mention your business administration degree, but don’t stop there.
If you manage to find any problems the company is currently facing, propose potential solutions or improvements.
Talking about these points will make you look like you’re already a part of the team.
3. Mistake: You’re being too formal without any authenticity
Another common problem during the interviews is the need to look strictly professional.
It comes with avoiding personal answers, showing emotions, or sharing stories.
Even though senior positions require high professionalism, being slightly informal is a necessary step to keep healthy relationships in every workplace.
How to fix it: Introduce your genuine self
While bringing personal issues into your profession isn’t advised, revealing a bit more about yourself makes the interviewer’s job easier.
As the overall relationships at the workplace greatly impact the employees’ performance, understanding who you are helps the company evaluate your personality and emotional intelligence.
Hence, don’t be afraid to show a bit of your personality and authenticity already during the first interview. It’s a great chance to give your interviewer a hint about whether you’ll be a good fit for the team.
4. Mistake: You’re focusing exclusively on your past
There’s nothing wrong with dedicating most of the conversation time to your accomplishments and skills.
Everyone wants to reveal their strengths and experiences, so talking about your achieved goals makes sense. However, too much focus on what you have done comes with an unexpected downfall.
How to fix it: Mention how you want to grow in the future
Mentioning your achievements helps interviewers evaluate your skills, but focusing only on your past may imply you’ve reached the end of your professional journey.
Companies need people with a growth mindset, which means constant improvement and learning have to be a natural part of your professional goals.
To appear as an outward-looking person, always mention what you strive to learn in the future and how you plan to expand your skills.
5. Mistake: You’re concentrating only on answers
For interviewees, it’s typical to put too much attention on the answers as they depict their suitability for a job position.
Yet, concentrating on your resume and the right answers robs you of the chance to demonstrate your interest in the company.
How to fix it: Ask questions to show off your curiosity
The interviewer doesn’t have to be the only person asking questions.
If you start asking more, you’ll encourage a discussion and convey your appeal in the role. You can use questions like:
“Why is this position open?”
“How do the first weeks look in the new position?”
“Shall I gain any specific skills to perform at this job as well as possible?”
The interviewee will appreciate your effort, and you’ll receive practical answers.
Whenever possible, avoid asking questions with “yes” or “no” answers as they don’t usually help the conversation.
6. Mistake: You ignore the end of the interview
Another overlooked mistake is taking off immediately after the interviewing part is over.
You might think your job is done here, but neglecting the end part of the interview can actually cost you an invitation to the second round.
How to fix it: Always close the interview well.
Due to the psychological phenomenon called the peak-end rule, people judge their experiences based on how they feel at the end of them. Therefore, you should strive to finish the interview in the best possible way.
Once the official talk is complete, don’t run away and engage in a personal conversation or ask additional questions.
It offers you a great opportunity to leave a good impression that can later impact the interviewer’s decision.
7. Mistake: You’re focusing only on the interviewer
On your big day, you walk into the building, rehearsing the story you’re about to share with the recruiter.
But somehow, you forget to say hello to the lady at the reception, smile at your future team members, or greet the cleaning guy in the hallway.
A tiny mistake that comes with significant consequences.
How to fix it: Be nice to everyone around.
While people other than your interviewer might seem unimportant to your success, don’t neglect the fact the interviewer might be later discussing your performance with others.
Regardless of their positions, make sure you are kind to everyone so the employees can think of you as a nice person they’ll be happy to welcome on board.
Get invited to the next interview.
Even though executive roles come with great professionalism and maturity, you shouldn’t forget that your interviewer is a human being just like you.
Being cold, sharing only career-related stuff, or not engaging in the conversation are tiny details that might not seem relevant to the role you’re applying for, but they make a tremendous difference once the final decision has to be made.