As an executive recruiter, I’ve interviewed hundreds of leaders throughout my career. Everyone that I speak with has an impressive background.
However, you would be surprised by how many executives struggle with the interview process. There are a couple of key reasons why it can be challenging. First of all, being a leader in one company does not guarantee that you will understand how to sell yourself for a job at another company. Secondly, if you are only going through an interview process every few years or so, it’s very difficult to keep your interviewing skills sharp.
This article features the three biggest interviewing mistakes that executives make. Avoid these typical blunders, and you will stand out from your peers in a good way.
Mistake #1: Speaking negatively about your current situation.
When asked why they would consider a new role, many executives take the bait and discuss what they don’t like about their current situation. Perhaps they feel like they have to share this information (they don’t), or perhaps they think that sharing this information will help them bond with the interviewer (it won’t).
In reality, speaking negatively about your current situation makes you seem much less appealing. The implication is that you are difficult to please or not a highly valued employee. (If someone is a superstar, wouldn’t their employer be doing everything possible to keep him/her happy?)
Fair or unfair, recruiters and hiring managers are always skeptical of someone who is “actively looking” for a new role. If you are looking to make a move, do not broadcast your unhappiness with your current situation. Instead, focus on what is potentially appealing to you about the role that you are interviewing for.
Mistake #2: Not connecting the dots for the interviewer.
Don’t assume that your resume will speak for itself. Most resumes don’t do justice to the people that they represent. However, even if yours is better than most, the typical recruiter or hiring manager will not spend more than a few seconds looking at it anyway.
It’s your responsibility to determine and clearly articulate why you are the best candidate for a position. It’s not the job of a recruiter or hiring manager to connect the dots for you.
You can only discuss so much in a one-hour meeting. Before an interview, identify the top 3-5 achievements that you want to highlight. Make sure you focus on what is most significant and most relevant about your background. That will change based on who is interviewing you and what position you are interviewing for.
Keep in mind that there may be other candidates who are more experienced or more qualified than you. The good news is that can you beat out these other candidates if you do a better job articulating why you are the right person for the job.
Mistake #3: Failing to address and overcome potential objections.
Chances are that you do not meet every single “requirement” in the job description. In addition, your career might also have some blemishes. For example, maybe you had a gap in employment several years ago. Or, perhaps you were recently laid off.
Your background is probably not perfect, and that’s okay! The key is to be honest with yourself about any potential holes in your background. Ask yourself why a company might have doubts about you, or why a company might not want to hire you for a role. Then, craft a strategy to overcome any potential questions or objections about your candidacy.
It’s refreshing and memorable (in a good way) when a candidate has the humility and self-awareness to acknowledge that he or she is not perfect. Address any potential issues head-on, and then emphasize what you do bring to the table.