The majority of interview questions will focus on experiences from your past, but at the executive level, interview questions are more than likely to go beyond that level of difficulty. By asking non-traditional interview questions, hiring executives and search consultants can find out how you will perform in the position, uncover your problem-solving skills, see how you react to unpredictable circumstances, and numerous other traits that could make you successful or unsuccessful in the role.

Here are some examples of traditional and non-traditional questions and suggestions on how to formulate your responses. As you prepare for an interview, you may consider putting together some notes and stories with examples. Also, take the time to prepare a few questions of your own for the interviewer. Some examples of these types of questions are shown in the below infographic.


Tell me about yourself.

As one of the most common interview questions, it is probable that you will be asked this during at least one interview in the hiring process. By asking this question, interviewers are looking to see how you adapt and what things you decide to focus on while talking about yourself. The best way to answer this question is by summarizing your career thus far (highlighting key achievements that relate to the role you’re interviewing for) and where you see your career going in the future (reiterating why you think working for this company fits your future goals).

What was your reason for leaving your last employer?

Be honest when answering this question, but don’t be too negative. Point out positive developments that transpired as a result of leaving the company and explain that you are keen to enter the following stage of your career.

What are your strengths?

This question should be answered using two or three attributes or skills that are relevant to the position for which you’re interviewing. It’s important to cite evidence of these strengths through CAR stories and by citing reviews or observations coworkers or superiors have made about your performance. Otherwise, it will seem like you’re simply bragging.

What are your weaknesses? Or tell me about a failed project.

This question can be difficult for interviewees at all levels, but that’s what makes it a great question from the interviewer’s perspective. Rather than focusing on all the things you may not be as good at, you should choose one weakness or failed project and explain a situation where you’ve improved or overcame that weakness  or project (again a CAR story could be very effective here).

Do you have the key skills this position requires?

Numerous interview questions often place emphasis on key skills for the position, so make sure you prepare examples of your ability for all the key skills required for the role.

What is the one thing you would change about our company if you could today?

This question helps the interviewer find out how much you know about the company. It also gives them some insight into what kinds of strategies you would focus on if you were to be hired for the position. Don’t worry about being overly detailed when answering this question. The interviewer will be looking to see how much you know about the company, your thought process, attitude, and priorities.

Get seven more types of interview questions, plus tips for preparing for your interview, types of interviews, and more: Download part six of The Ultimate Executive Career Guide.


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