- Posted by alpina_admin
- On 31st May 2017
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So the big moment has finally arrived and you’ve received an invite to an interview for that first executive-level role that you’ve been dreaming of. You want the role so badly you can visualise just how exciting it is going to feel to arrive at your new office on day one. But first, you have to convince the hiring manager that you are the right person for the job. So how do you do it?
First of all, you need to know now that interviews for senior roles are a different animal to those for more junior positions. With an entry-level role, hiring managers are looking for qualities such as enthusiasm, the ability to learn and the basic technical skills needed.
But with senior, executive level roles, the emphasis shifts to the need for strategic abilities. Managers are looking for a blend of advanced skills, experience and the ability to think in a critical fashion, to present yourself well with a range of people and to be responsible, decisive and able to lead others. You have about an hour to demonstrate that you possess these in abundance.
Of course, you need to be well prepared before the interview, because you know that a standard set of questions are going to be asked. But this time, your answers need to be pitched differently. Yes, the interviewer is going to ask you what you know about the hiring company, but simply referencing a product list and some basic insights from the website won’t cut it. For the senior level role, you need to show that you have a broader appreciation of the business, its market position, its main competitors and the main strategic issues facing it within the market. Show that you have done some research and use figures and hard facts, as well as dropping in some observations and thoughts of your own. This demonstrates your ability to think critically and strategically, and to handle complex information on an intellectual level.
Be prepared to answer questions about your management style and approach to work at a more advanced level. Use examples that are appropriate. If you don’t yet have management experience, then be honest about it, but immediately talk about instances in which you have demonstrated the requisite skills at a developing level in your current job. For example, you may have managed a project or a virtual team. (And if you haven’t, get that experience as soon as you can – by volunteering for opportunities if necessary).
Show that you have self-awareness, the ability to reflect and the ability to change the way that you do things. Don’t be afraid to talk about an instance where things didn’t work out in exactly the way that you had hoped, but always explain how you changed your approach or style to get the results that you needed. Be detailed and factual to make your examples memorable, compelling and authentic.
Body language and presentation
A senior role requires confidence and presence, so present yourself accordingly. Dress for the role you are interviewing for. Make sure you feel smart and comfortable. A smart outfit – but nothing too formal when you’re interviewing with a Tech Start-Up or Scale-Up – will help you to feel the part and will give you an air of confidence. Use the name of the interviewer occasionally when you speak to them, and address them as an equal with a warm handshake, a smile and a calm manner. Avoid jiggling or displaying nervous tics as this will make you seem awkward. Don’t be afraid to take up space either. You need to ‘fill out’ the available space. Space equals power on a subconscious level, so relax and own your personal space – without encroaching into the interviewer’s!
Executives come prepared. Don’t walk in clutching a dog-eared copy of your CV. Bring an attractive portfolio or a laptop / tablet, pre-loaded with a virtual portfolio and a copy of your CV if necessary. Check that your hands are clean and your nails are neat. Check your hair and your teeth beforehand and suck on a mint if necessary, especially if you have been drinking coffee or have smoked beforehand. Go easy on fragrance; something light and subtle is ideal, as many interview rooms are small and you don’t want to be remembered for giving the interviewer a headache!
These tips will help you to prepare for your big moment. Now go get ’em and secure that dream opportunity with a TMT Start-Up or Scale-Up!
This article was written by Gary Reeman, MD, AlpinaSearch. If you’d welcome advice on progressing your career as a Senior Exec in a Tech Start-up or Scale-up, head over to http://alpinasearch.com/candidates/