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Acing the Executive Interview

Your resume has cleared the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) used by most hiring professionals to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, human resource managers still field a ton of resumes looking for the right combination of skill, motivation and culture fit. If the hiring manager has offered you one of the sought-after interviews, you can assume that your resume presented your credentials, experiences and references to be top-notch. Blending in at this point is no way to separate yourself from the herd when the ultimate goal is to create a positive lasting impression.

Attitude, the way you carry yourself and attributes, your characteristics and qualities, plus quantifiable achievements make interviewers sit up and notice. Some key qualities include:

Problem Solver

Position yourself as a problem-solver. Not only can you identify an issue, but you can demonstrate quantitatively how you have fixed problems in the past. You may not have all the answers immediately, but you know how to ask the right questions and show a willingness to try innovative ideas or methods leading to the necessary solutions. Hiring managers do not need any more problems to deal with, they are looking for someone who can bring solutions to the table.

Centered and Grounded Personality

A relaxed and confident attitude lets your own unique personality shine through. Confidence can be tricky. It can easily stray into over-confidence which can be viewed by the interviewer as cocky. Keep your ego in check. Your energy, charisma and ability to carry a conversation forward in a relaxed manner gives the interviewer a real-time sense of what you will be like as a colleague. A TopInterview survey from 2018 found 70% of employers considered a candidate’s personality a top factor in extending job offers over education (18%) or appearance (7%).

Work/Life Balance

Boundaries are positives. Very few human resource managers want to hire a candidate who swears she will do whatever it takes. These driven individuals are rarely a good long term fit and can succumb to burn-out. Along those same lines, being a perfectionist is not always seen as a valued skill. It can indicate a tendency to micro-manage, the inability to designate and obsessing over details to the detriment of time management. A well-rounded individual who can articulate the need for their own personal life, wellness and outside commitments ultimately makes them better teammates and managers. Workaholics can come to resent colleagues who do not exhibit the same drive.

Relate Past Experience to Current Opportunity

Demonstrating how past experience relate to the current position is a highly valued critical thinking skill. A highly regarded human resource recruiter says, “the fact that they have a relatable success in the past makes me think they will be able to jump into things faster.” Utilizing the STAR Method, (Situation, Task, Actions, Results) is a great way to demonstrate your strengths. It also serves to address the inevitable ‘weakness’ question by addressing weakness in a positive manner. For example, in many workplaces, being bilingual is a key attribute. Perhaps you took Spanish in college and are now taking on-line classes to refresh your skills. You are not quite fluent but have identified a weakness and are taking steps to address it.

100% Commitment to This Interview/Opportunity

The candidate who is excited by the opportunity for the interview is genuinely refreshing for an interviewer. That candidate has anticipated the standard questions, owned their weaknesses and demonstrated a desire to overcome them. Their answers are practiced, showcasing strengths but are not memorized, exhibiting intellectual curiosity with an innate desire to solve problems. The best candidates are honest, honest, honest. Having 2 or 3 solid questions to ask the interviewer is basic good preparation. You need 1 for sure, with 2 or 3 back ups in case #1 gets answered during the bulk of the interview. Examples of powerful questions include:

  • Is there anything missing from my Resume or experience that you need to see?
  • What was missing from the previous employee that you seek in the new one?
  • What challenges did my predecessor face?
  • What do I have to do to be successful in this role? Do you think I am a good fit?
  • Tell me about the company culture. What is your favorite part?
  • What type of salary/compensation are you offering?

Exhibiting an excited and honest passion for this position allows the interviewer to see that how/where you can fit into the paradigm for a mutual ‘win.’

Don’t forget to send a thank you note. Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it is also the perfect opportunity to thank the interviewer for their time and remind them of the rapport you built during the interview. Reiterating why you are interested for the position and little reminders of why you are the right fit help to keep you top of mind. Fortunately, or unfortunately, a thank you note is often seen as that something extra that makes you stand out.

Employment gaps are no longer the issue they were in the past. In the current environment human resource professionals are well aware that many people were forced to take downtime away from their career. Being laid off, even permanently is not the same as being terminated for performance related issues. 87% of recruiters were unfazed by inconsistent work history and only 13% thought unemployment  carries a stigma. The focus is on today, looking toward the future.

It should go without saying to never, ever disparage a current of former employer, manager, boss or colleague.

Just for fun, there is a free character strength survey which will outline your top 5-character strengths like humor, gratitude, social intelligence, courage, honesty, and humanity.

Looking for a new opportunity as an Interim Healthcare Leader? Contact us for a complimentary resume review.