Do You Know What To Look for In Senior-Level Interviews?

Sara King |

Senior-Level Interviews

Your senior leadership team is there to drive results. When interviewing candidates for senior positions, it can be tempting to focus only on results and ignore behaviors. Behavioral interviewing, however, can be a useful tool in choosing the right person for the job.

Reading Between The Lines

You don’t have to ask tricky questions to gauge behavior. You can use straightforward interviewing to glean insight into what makes a person tick. For example, you might present a potential sales director with a hypothetical situation: “A salesperson has been with the company for six years and consistently meets and exceeds goals. However, over the last two quarters, she’s missed her goals by more than 40 percent. How would you handle this situation? Can you give me examples of how you’ve dealt with similar situations in your current position?”

While you will surely be interested in the candidate’s ideas to improve the situation, and the theoretical results they would accomplish, pay attention to their behavior as they answer – from body language and eye contact to inflection and word choice. Do their actions align with the values and culture of your organization?

The “I” Response Vs. The “We” Response

When you’re asking questions around successes and failures, it’s important to pay attention to more than just the substance of a candidate’s answers. Listen carefully to the way the interviewee frames responses. Someone who answers questions about success with “I did this,” and “I did that,” likely has a different approach to leadership than someone who frames answers by saying, “we did this,” or “my team did that.”

The same holds true for questions surrounding failure. Everybody fails. You may have failed today: even if it was a very minor failure, like forgetting to attach a document to an email. Whether a failure is large or small, it’s important to always fail forward. Look for responses that show a candidate is willing to admit failure and learn from it.

How Does Your Prospect Treat The Server?

Your mother probably taught you to pay attention to the way your date treats servers in restaurants. Would you consider a relationship with someone who is rude to wait staff? The same concept applies during the interview process. It will be important to gather your hiring team together and ask how the candidate treated each person. If you find that he or she was less respectful to HR staff than to other senior executives, it shows you how the candidate may act towards employees in the workplace.

Behaviors are indicative of the person you’re hiring. The hiring process is time consuming and far too important to the bottom line to ignore red flags. Instead of focusing solely on past performance, start reading between the lines during your interviews and look for the ways in which a candidate’s behavior reveals important clues about who he/she is and how that person will fit in to your organization.

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Sara King

Sara King

Sara King has worked as a human resources executive/professional for over 20 years. Sara’s strengths lie in her ability to partner with CEO’s, understanding their business initiatives and how to couple business needs with human capital. Her areas of expertise include: strategic hiring and recruiting, organizational development, management by objectives design and implementation, mergers and acquisitions, and training design and development.