At senior executive level, giving a good job interview is much more than just turning up on the day, wearing something vaguely smart and answering questions off the top of your head. Everything that you do on your way through the selection process can give you an edge over other executive job candidate. Here are 10 tips for edging out your competitors.
1. Your Relationship With the Recruiters
If you have a good relationship with the executive search profession, head-hunters and recruiters will get to know you and come to understand where you would best fit. Find out who the key recruiters in your field are and then choose which ones to work with. Recruiters who understand your industry, and have been around long enough to build up huge banks of knowledge about both the industry and recruitment in general, will put you forward for the right positions.
Also look at the Executive Job Search Toolkit for more tools and advice to help you optimise your job search.
2. Make Your CV a Talking Point
CVs can be boring. They mostly look alike. Except that these are your accomplishments and this has been your life. Make your CV clear. Do not be afraid of white space on the page. Give the reader something interesting – that has impact. That sets you apart. Think about what would really work for this particular audience.
3. Profile Yourself
Include a personal profile on your CV, just below your contact information. Use the profile to talk about who you are, what you enjoy and where your strengths lie. You can state what it is that you want in your next role. This way the interviewer will already feel like they know you a little bit before you even walk into the room. This will help make the interview a more comfortable, fluid experience for both interviewers and interviewee.
4. Have Clear Intentions
A job interviewer will want to know why you want to work for their company and what your plans are for both your career and for this employer. As you are going to have to express your ambitions and intentions in the interview, it is important that you are clear on these before you step into the critical parts of the process. So prepare well and think about why you are going for this job and what you have to offer the company.
5. Try Alternative Colours
Once they reach a certain level of seniority in their working lives, many people feel they have to stick to neutral colours like black, white and grey for job interviews. This is not the case at all. You can stand out from the other job candidates while still looking smart and professional by wearing colours that suit you and that match your personality. Why stay neutral in this area?
6. Look Confident
When you turn up for an interview, the interviewer is expecting you to be the confident, talented, professional individual you say that you are on your CV and that they have heard you to be from any briefing they may have had on you. Be that person. Look the job interviewer in the eye and shake them firmly by the hand when you first meet them. Answer interview questions without too much hesitation or lots of “ums” and “errs”.
7. Tell Them About Yourself
When an interviewer asks the inevitable question, “So tell me a little about yourself,” don’t just mumble “There’s not much to say really” or spend ages going on about how prestigious the company you currently work for is. When an interviewer asks this, they genuinely want to hear something interesting about you – so give them what they want. Whether you choose to say something about your values, how you learnt an unusual skill or how your last holiday destination aligned with your cultural interests and identity, you will be demonstrating that there is something about you worth knowing and that you know who you are.
8. Focus on Your Strengths
Even though we naturally feel uncomfortable discussing our strengths, it is important that we do not focus on our weaknesses. This is particularly important in job interviews. Dwelling on our weak areas not only reinforces in our own minds our lack of worth, but it also sends out negative messages to the interviewer. Even when job interviewers ask you to name a weakness, they are not expecting you to put yourself down; they want you to give an example of how you are working on an area for improvement. Work out your key strengths with this workbook on Identifying your skills.
9. Give Examples
Although it is important to focus on your skills and strengths in an interview, do not just list them when asked what they are. Give examples of how you have used each of your strengths in specific situations. For instance, your ability to manage your workload may have helped you to meet a succession of tight deadlines over the course of just one week. Develop your example into a concise, engaging story to tell. Run through the story in your head beforehand so that you structure it well and include all the key details when it is time to tell it.
10. Follow Up
Follow up each job interview by sending a thank you note to the interviewer. Even if it is just an email or a text, it both demonstrates your good manners and professionalism and keeps you at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind as they review all of the different candidates. Simply type a couple of lines thanking them for their time and the opportunity to come in and talk about the job.
More executive job search articles: