Hiring an executive is a painstaking process that cannot be taken lightly. It is unlike the hiring process for a typical employee, since not only is an organization gaining a worker; they are bringing in a leader. Thus, how does a business best gauge the future success of an executive during an interview?

On the Path to Success: The Top Interview Questions for Executives

Question 1: How do you detect problems and how do you solve them?

This is a fundamental question, since it is the job of executives to find and solve problems. It is this ability that will provide the best insight into the future. If an executive thoroughly identifies the problem and then proposes a well-thought-out strategy that considers all stakeholders and possible outcomes, this is the executive to hire. If an executive is clearly thinking on the spot and “winging” it and proposes multiple strategies without genuinely considering the whole picture, this could indicate an executive who makes rash, unwise decisions.

Question 2: Provide us with a snapshot of how you see the job changing over time.

This question gives a hiring board an idea of how much a candidate has already invested in the job. An executive who wants to be a part of an organization will be thinking toward the future, including how they will develop and evolve with the role. It is this investment that proves an executive will embrace the mission and help drive results.

Question 3: How will you mentor and educate those around you?

A critical part of being a leader is inspiring and educating those around them. It is this ability to mentor that will grow institutional knowledge and incorporate a culture of education. For the future of an organization, it is crucial new leaders are mentored, retained, and brought up through the ranks to provide legacy knowledge and organizational stability.

Question 4: What is your plan to bring innovation into your role?

A leader is crucial for driving innovation. If an executive is genuinely an innovator, when faced with this question they should be able to lay out a plan for execution. Executives who present well-thought-out ideas with an understanding of the possible road bumps and challenges ahead are the hires who will enhance an organization. In contrast, if an executive outlines a plan that is all “bells and whistles” without any acknowledgment of the risks involved, this may be a sign of trouble.

Question 5: What motivates you?

To get a better idea of what makes an executive tick, it’s best to ask them straight-out what motivates them on a professional and personal level. Does mission drive them? Does a sense of equality and fairness dictate their decision making? Do they win at all costs? Not only does this question give insight on how they are best driven, but also how they will lead.

Planning Ahead

Executive recruitment can be a complicated task, since businesses are hiring leaders to guide their organizations into the future.  When interviewing prospective executives, it is best to try to gauge how successful they will be in providing leadership. This can be achieved by asking potential executives fundamental questions about management and leadership. Asking the right questions can provide valuable insight on how an executive will function, especially when things get challenging.

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