100 questions to nail when interviewing for a new leadership position

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When interviewing for a leadership position you go through a range of 30 minute interviews. Each representing an opportunity to get across a much about yourself to the interviewer as possible. To get selected you need to provide crisp answers to as many questions as possible. Prepare answers to 100 questions that you can expect to get during a full interview round.

The interview context you can expect to face

Executive interviewers fire many questions and expect crisp and concise answers.  Prepare short and straight to the point answers to each question. No response should be longer than 1 minute.

Expect different question purposes. First round of interviews is about screening out candidates. Second round of interviews to select the best candidates. With 2-3 candidates brought forward to final decisions.

Expect to meet three different types of interviewers. Human resource professionals. The hiring manager. Peers to the hiring manager.

Deliver proof points as far as possible. Package your career experiences well. All candidates express “Think”, “Want” and “Be ready” statements for the role at stake. And stick to 1 or at most 2 proof-points per question.

In its simplest form the valuation criteria on each question fall in one of 3 categories. Above, at or below expectation. Where above expectations come from concrete and clear examples. At expectation from credibility of having the experience. With below expectation coming from unclear, vague or exaggerated responses. And the more questions you can knock off in your slot, the better score.

Understanding of role

Basic questions to confirm you have understood the role well.

  1. What is your interpretation of this role?
  2. What is the nature of this role?
  3. How does this role fit into the hiring managers team?
  4. What are the 3 most important roles reporting to you?
  5. What do you see as the major challenges in this role?

Interest in role

Making sure you are interested in the role on the table. Candidates with a genuine interest and full commitment aare required.

  1. Why have you applied for this role?
  2. What part of the role description make you excited?
  3. What is the mark you want to make if selected?
  4. Where does this role fit into your long-term career ambitions?
  5. How long do you plan to stay in this new role?

Fulfillment of defined qualification criteria

An easy pass for the candidates making the shortlist.

  1. Which experiences on your CV are most relevant for this role?
  2. Which gaps do you see between the role description and your personal capabilities?
  3. How do you plan to address your own capability gap gaps?
  4. What support do you expect to pull from your new team?
  5. How would you describe the size of the step you take into this role?

Unique capabilities for the role at hand

Your opportunity to be confident and proud of yourself. Prepare well-articulated responses to these questions.

  1. What make you best positioned to take on this role?
  2. What does your personal brand stand for?
  3. What characterize your leadership and management style?
  4. Which personal attributes make you stand out?
  5. How would your best friend describe you?

Contribution to the management team

You will play two roles, as the leader of your team and as a member of the management team.

  1. How do your current colleagues describe you?
  2. How do you drive results outside your own team?
  3. Describe a great example where collaboration with peers delivered exceptional results?
  4. Which tasks have you taken on in your current management team?
  5. What make you a great team player?

Capabilities above and beyond the role description

All candidates bring a lot to the table outside the role description. Be creative on which strengths you can put in play.

  1. How can the role description by extended by leveraging your strengths further?
  2. Which of your personal passions spill over to your professional life?
  3. Which sports have you competed in at younger age?
  4. Which organizations are you active in outside of work?
  5. What would you add to the role to expand it around your core strengths?

Executive Presence

An area where you want to punch above your weight. There is little room to make a second first impression at Executive levels.

  1. What is the most senior customers you have interacted with?
  2. How do you dress to make people feel they are important to you?
  3. How would executives describe your presence in your current role?
  4. Describe your most exciting stage appearance?
  5. Who is your role model for Executive Presence.

Prove customer understanding

The new number 1 sales job is to understand your customers. A vital skill in play in most positions in an organization.

  1. What drives customers buying behaviors in this market?
  2. Which trends are major market influences right now?
  3. Which inflection points represent opportunities and threats?
  4. Which methods do you use to develop customer insights?
  5. What role do you play in understanding customers?

Track record in delivering business results

Leadership roles is all about results. What to measure and how to get there.

  1. What are the performance targets you work towards right now?
  2. Give 3 examples of successful business results?
  3. What was your contribution to these results?
  4. What is your recipe for delivering results consistently?
  5. How do you use conflicts as a tool to deliver results?

Personal Decisiveness

Leaders are today challenged to take decisions faster and on looser grounds in the past. Question to make sure are ready to act early.

  1. How do you describe your decision-making style?
  2. Which facts are central for your decision making?
  3. How do you make decisions in grey zones?
  4. How do you deal with risk when taking decisions?
  5. Can you describe a strategy decision pivot you have done?

Internal and external contact network

One of your most valuable assets. Where your digital network is growing in importance.

  1. Which customer relationships do you bring with you?
  2. Which industry relationships do you bring with you?
  3. Which part of your internal network will be in play for this role?
  4. Who do you see as the key stakeholders to be successful?
  5. What does your digital contact network look like?

Develop your team

A top priority together with delivering results. Cover growing members and scaling up and down.

  1. Which grooming of talent are you most proud of?
  2. What characterize your best hire/s?
  3. How did you handle your most difficult reduction in force?
  4. Which type of professionals do you mentor outside your own team?
  5. How do you plan the development of your organization?

Establish and follow up goals for team and individuals

An area growing in importance. Great leaders master contexts, articulation and activation of goals. With shorter and shorter horizons.

  1. Which goal horizons do you operate with?
  2. How many priorities to you set at a time?
  3. How do you involve your team in setting goals?
  4. Which governance model do you use for progress follow-up?
  5. What is your recipe for activating goals in your team?

Experiences shaping your career

The proof points giving substance to your claims. A section to be proud of.

  1. What are the 3 most important milestones in your career?
  2. What did you learn from your biggest success?
  3. What did you learn from your biggest mistake/failure?
  4. What was driving the career pivots you have made?
  5. If you got to re-run your career what would you change?

Digital Transformation Capabilities

The world is going digital and this development challenge leaders first. The fastest rising criteria for new leadership appointments.

  1. Describe your experience with digital transformation initiatives?
  2. Which digital collaboration tools do you use beyond mail and office applications?
  3. Give examples of how you use social media tools to influence customers?
  4. How have you enabled innovations in your previous teams?
  5. Give examples of lean initiatives you have implemented?

Change Maker

Change is the new normal, with leaders out in the front-line.

  1. Describe your most significant change management experience?
  2. What did you learn from that change experience?
  3. Describe your best coaching experience?
  4. Describe your experience with different cultures?
  5. What are your most important change management tools?

Development of yourself

Your ability to learn is more important than what you know. Show learning is a priority for you.

  1. How do you manage your personal development?
  2. What are your main development priorities this year?
  3. What do you work on with your current mentor/s?
  4. How do your extract insights from daily experiences?
  5. How do you take advantages of learning from others?

Perspectives on your 100-day plan

No one get selected without describing what they plan to do first. A good 100-day plan secure your are not among the 40% of leaders failing in their first 18 months.

  1. Can you name 5 important aspects you cover in your 100 day plans?
  2. What have you picked up in previous interviews as important areas to cover for this role?
  3. What part of the plan do you expect to have completed day 0?
  4. When in time do you target to make your key appointments?
  5. What do you see as the most difficult part of your 100-day plan?

Professional / Private life balance

Companies want humans with a balance in life. And a character to maintain balance.

  1. When can you move to the requested location for this role?
  2. What do your family think of you taking on this new role?
  3. How do you plan to deal with the travel required in this role?
  4. What will you have to give up, to take on this role?
  5. Describe which work/life balance you strive for?

Quality in your questions to the interviewer

Often limited to “What does it take to win”. But some much more you can cover to get input to your 100-day plan and the next interview round.

  1. How you define success in this role?
  2. Which performance criteria will I be accountable for?
  3. What does the introduction program look like to secure new leaders become successful in their new role?
  4. Who should I consider talking to before the next interview round to gather input to a 100-day plan?
  5. What can I do to improve my odds in the next interview round?

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