Practice Interview Questions

Image of two people having a conversationExecutive interview questions tend to cover seven main areas. Familiarizing yourself with these will help you understand what the interviewer is trying to learn about you with each question. The typical interview won’t likely get to a fraction of these questions, but if you practice answering these in a natural and comfortable style, you’ll be sure to leave a strong impression.

Your competence and ability – The interviewer is trying to figure out how well you can do the job.

  • What led you to your present position?
  • What was your position when you joined the company?
  • What other positions have you held since then?
  • What was your starting salary?
  • What is your salary now?
  • What are the three most important responsibilities in your present position?
  • What special skills or knowledge do you need to perform your present position?
  • What decisions or judgment calls have you made in your present position?
  • Tell me how you reached those decisions. What achievements are you most proud of in your present position?
  • Tell me about a problem you experienced, something you found difficult in your present position. What is the most important project you have worked on in your present position?
  • How do you feel about your workload at your company?
  • How do you divide your time among your major areas of responsibility?
  • How important is communication and interaction with others on the job?
  • What is more important on your job, written or oral communication?
  • What has been the most complex report you have ever had to write?
  • How many levels of management do you interact with?
  • What levels of management are you most comfortable or uncomfortable with?
  • Have you ever had to make unpopular decisions? Tell me about one.
  • If you went to your manager for a raise, why would you be doing it?
  • What will your manager say when you go in to resign?
  • Why are you leaving your present position?
  • Why were you fired?
  • Why have you changed jobs so frequently?
  • Why have you been out of work for so long?
  • What have you learned from the jobs you have held?
  • In what ways has your present job prepared you to take on greater responsibilities?
  • How would you define the role of a manager?
  • How many people have you fired?
  • Have you ever trained other people?
  • Have you ever had an employee suddenly start to act out of character?
  • Have you ever had to meet tight deadlines?
  • How do you maintain discipline in your department?
  • Did you hold budgetary responsibility in your last position?
  • What was your involvement in short/mid/long-term planning?
  • How do you quantify the results of your activities as a manager?
  • Describe a typical workday.

Your Management Style – The interviewer is trying to ascertain the way you manage teams, and how manageable you are. 

  • How do you take directions?
  • What are some of the things about which you and your manager disagreed?
  • What are some of the things your manager did that you disliked?
  • In what areas could your manager have done a better job?
  • Tell me about an occasion when your work or an idea was criticized?
  • How accurately do you feel your manager has rated your performance in the past?
  • How has your manager gotten the best out of you?
  • What do you think of your current manager?
  • Describe the best manager you’ve ever had. Tell me about a situation when people were making an emotional decision about a project. What happened in that situation and how did you handle it?
  • Tell me about an occasion when there were objections to your ideas. What did you do to convince management of your point of view?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where people have overruled you or wouldn’t let you get a word in edgeways?
  • For what have you been most frequently criticized?
  • How do your work habits change when your manager is absent?
  • Tell me about a time when there was a decision to be made and your manager was absent. What do you do when there is a decision to be made and no procedure exists?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were told “no.” What did you do in response?
  • Tell me about an idea that was rejected. What did you say and do subsequently?
  • What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about an occasion when you felt it necessary to convince your company to change a procedure. Recall a time when those around you were not being as honest or direct as they should have been. What did you do?
  • Give me an example of a time when management had to change a plan or approach you were committed to. How did you feel and how did you explain the change to your people?
  • When was the last time you really got angry?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt adequately recognized for your contributions. What kinds of rewards are most satisfying to you?
  • In what ways has your manager contributed to your decision to leave your current position?
  • What can you do for us that someone else cannot do?
  • Describe your management style. How long will it take for you to make a contribution?
  • What special characteristics should I consider about you as a person?

Your Enthusiasm and Willingness – The interviewer wants to uncover how enthusiastic and ready you are to jump in and make a contribution.

  • What personal qualities do you think are necessary to make a success of this job?
  • How do you feel about your professional progress to date?
  • Do you consider yourself successful?
  • How do you rank among your peers?
  • What have you done that you are proud of?
  • What do you consider your greatest strength[s]?
  • Tell me about a responsibility you have enjoyed. Tell me about a project that really got you excited. Have you worked for a group like us before?
  • Do you work alone in your present position?
  • Tell me about a time when you needed to get an understanding of another’s situation before you could get your job done. How did you get that understanding and what problems did you encounter?
  • In working with new people, how do you go about getting an understanding of them?
  • What is your role as a group member?
  • What type of person do you get along with best?
  • What difficulties do you have in tolerating people with different backgrounds and interests from yourself?
  • When you joined your last company and met the group for the first time, how did you feel?
  • How did get on with them?
  • Define cooperation. How would you define a satisfying work atmosphere?
  • Tell me about an occasion when, in difficult circumstances, you pulled the team together. Tell me about a time when your team fell apart. Why did it happen?
  • What did you do?
  • Have you ever had to build motivation or team spirit with coworkers?
  • What are some of the things you find difficult to do?
  • What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?
  • Recall for me a major project you worked on. How did you organize and plan for it?
  • Do you set goals for yourself?
  • What did you like/dislike about your last job?
  • Describe a typical workday. What problems do you normally experience in getting things done?
  • Describe a project that required a high amount of energy over an extended period of time. What was the most difficult situation you have faced?
  • What stress did you feel and how did you react?
  • Tell me about a situation when your performance didn’t live up to your expectations. Why aren’t you earning more at your age?
  • How long will it take for you to make a contribution?
  • What have you done to become more effective in your position?
  • How do you define a successful career?
  • Are you willing to go where the company sends you?

Your Flexibility – The interviewer wants to know how adaptable you are change.

  • In what kind of situation will you cling to your point-of-view no matter what?
  • How do you handle changing priorities?
  • Describe several situations. Tell me about a specific project you led that had an impact on changing the overall process or procedures of how things had been done prior. How do you communicate change to others?
  • Cite a specific example.
  • Results:
  • How have you gotten around obstacles that prevented you from completing a project?
  • Describe the project and obstacles and what you did. What was your most significant accomplishment in your immediate role?
  • To what do you attribute your success?
  • What were your key objectives for this past year?
  • How were they decided upon and measured?
  • How well did you perform against them?
  • What decisions do you usually make quickly?
  • What decisions do you spend more time on?
  • Why?

Your Communication – The interviewer wants to learn about your verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

  • What approaches have you used in presenting to different audiences?
  • Give a specific example. How did you know you were getting your ideas across?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to turn away a customer / supplier / vendor. How did you communicate that difficult information?
  • Describe a situation in which you had some difficulty establishing rapport with another individual or group of individuals. What did you do?

Your Cross-Functional Experience – The interviewer wants to know about your ability (and desire) to juggle multiple responsibilities and take on new tasks, departments and/or roles.

  • How do you stay current on issues impacting your industry?
  • Describe a major project that you were responsible for that involved other areas of your organization. What actions have you taken to gain a broader understanding of the business process outside of your immediate role?
  • What cross-functional experiences have you gained within your current organization?

Your Project Management – The interviewer wants to understand your process for managing projects – whether formalized or otherwise.

  • What tools do you utilize to manage projects?
  • Has your schedule ever been upset by unforeseen circumstances?
  • What did you do then?
  • Give examples. Have you changed any processes or methods of setting work priorities in your current role?
  • Give examples. What is your procedure for keeping track of items that require attention?
  • Tell me about a time when you used this procedure?
  • Tell me about the time when your workload was heaviest. How did you complete all your work?
  • Have you ever set up a course of action to accomplish a long-range goal/vision?
  • What was it and how did you set it up?
  • What types of project planning or administration did you do in your job?
  • Tell me about some of these projects. Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline on a project. What were the causes?
  • What did you do?
  • What procedures do you use to organize information in your work area?
  • Tell me about a time when the procedures worked. When they didn’t work. Tell me about some challenging situations in which you had to arrange work schedules.

Don’t forget to prepare the questions you will ask the interviewer:

  • Why is the position open?
  • Are there internal candidates?
  • What are the formal/informal responsibilities of the position?
  • Are there key on-going responsibilities of the position?
  • What factors have hindered performance of these responsibilities?
  • What needs to be accomplished within the first x months on the job?
  • What changes would you like to see brought about?
  • What barriers stand in the way of realizing these improvements?
  • What are the strengths/weaknesses of the department?
  • Who would be the ideal candidate for this position?
  • What are the resources available to successfully complete the department’s objectives?
  • What are the limits of my authority?
  • To whom would I report?
  • Whom would I be supervising?
  • Tell me about initial and future training?
  • What is the career path of this job?
  • How will I be evaluated or what performance criteria would I be rated against?
  • Do you have any concerns about my qualifications?
  • What are the most critical components of this job?
  • What is the most important credential a candidate needs for this job?
  • Can you tell me about the most successful person doing this job?
  • What is the next step in the process?
  • When will I hear from you?

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