3 Interview Pitfalls Senior Professionals Must Dodge was originally published on Ivy Exec.
Picture this: a seasoned manager is sitting across from a hiring manager, vying for a senior-level position at her dream company.
Weeks of meticulous preparation have led her to this pivotal moment, and she is ready to tackle every question thrown her way.
The hiring manager asks her a question about her accomplishments. Wanting to appear modest, the interviewee shares a few examples of her past successes in general terms.
Next, the candidate is presented with a complex problem to solve. She methodically outlines a step-by-step plan, but there needs to be an element – a holistic and strategic perspective.
Lastly, she unfolds a list of three well-researched questions to ask the company at the end of the interview. Although she could have easily answered these inquiries by perusing the company’s website, she needs to appear more probing.
A week later, the company lets the interviewee know they aren’t moving forward with her candidacy. What went wrong with her interview?
Unfortunately, this interviewee made three cardinal mistakes: she held back on sharing her accomplishments in complex numbers, failed to demonstrate her strategic thinking skills, and finally, didn’t ask questions that showed her enthusiasm for the position and company.
But why are these missteps so significant, and how can future interviewees avoid falling into the same traps?
The Power of Specific, Quantifiable Achievements
One of the most common pitfalls in job interviews is the reluctance to discuss achievements in concrete numbers.
Most candidates have these quantifiable successes neatly outlined on their resumes, making the interview an ideal platform to emphasize these accomplishments with precision.
The issue lies in more than just the omission of such numbers; it’s the absence of context that raises concerns. Consider this: if you earned a specific amount while working in the Midwest but are now eyeing a position on the West Coast, providing context by comparing your earnings to industry standards in your previous location could be invaluable.
Alternatively, discussing the size of the teams you’ve led, the average client load you managed, or other relevant context can help the interviewer grasp the true extent of your achievements.
The Imperative of Demonstrating Strategic Thinking
Harvard Business Review tells us that a staggering 97 percent of executives seek strategic thinkers when assembling their leadership teams.
If they had to pick just one quality to predict their company’s long-term success, strategic thinking would be the one.
To this end, hiring managers often present candidates with a challenge to solve or ask them to identify flaws in an existing strategic plan. Red flags pop up when candidates focus on piecemeal solutions rather than providing a strategic overview or struggle to pinpoint critical issues within the plan.
Even if strategic planning isn’t explicitly addressed in the interview, weaving higher-level planning and foresight into your responses is a wise move.
Crafting Thoughtful Questions for the Interviewer
When it’s your turn to pose questions at the end of the interview, remember, it’s not just about satisfying your curiosity (although that’s important too). This is your final opportunity to convey three vital aspects:
- Your genuine interest in the position.
- Your in-depth knowledge about the company.
- Your intelligence and professionalism.
Hence, your questions should serve a dual purpose – addressing your inquiries while leaving a lasting impression. Here are a few categories to guide you:
- Inquiries about the expectations for someone in this role.
- Questions concerning company culture and values.
- Queries about recent company developments.
- Insights into your potential team and leadership responsibilities.
Adapt your questions based on the interview discussion, making notes as you progress to ensure you cover relevant ground.
Senior-Level Interviews: A Distinct Challenge
Preparing for a senior-level interview demands a unique approach.
It would help if you did not only recount your leadership achievements but also demonstrate your strategic understanding. Moreover, your well-crafted questions should reveal your aspirations for a leadership role within this company, not just any organization.
Understanding these nuances and meeting the expectations of hiring managers will bolster your confidence and authenticity during the interview. Remember, senior-level interviews are a distinct ballgame, but you can certainly emerge as the winning player with the right strategy.