8 Insider Tips to Ace the Executive Interview Process   

In a new report, BroadView Talent spells out the pitfalls that can hurt your chances when interviewing for a new position. Being authentic and genuine is essential, says the search firm, along with avoiding some key missteps.

June 2, 2022 – Heading into the interview process can make even the most seasoned executive sweat.  A new report from BroadView Talent Partners explains that when interviewing  candidates, the firm uses what it describes as the 6-3-2 process. This includes a first round pool of six candidates, a second round pool of three, and a final round — with board presentations — of two finalists. “Knowing where many candidates trip up and avoiding the same mistakes can be the difference between making it to the next round of your dream job — or not,” the report said. “In the end, there can only be one winner in each and every search.”

According to BroadView Talent, candidates who master the interview process tend to compete consistently, making it to the final rounds and/or winning the mandate. After conducting 30-minute prep sessions with candidates approved for each interview round, BroadView Talent feels confident that the prospects are set up for success, provided they implement the following best practices:

1. Keep the opening statement brief. After the search committee introduces themselves, the candidate should set the tone for the interview by providing opening remarks not to exceed three to five minutes, according to the BroadView Talent report. “Leverage this time to provide a summary overview of your career, why the role is the right one at the right time, and why the client’s mission and business model appeals to you,” the study said. “Note, if you time your opening statement for three minutes, then you won’t exceed five minutes. If however, you time this interval for five minutes, you will likely go seven minutes or more and may already blow your chance to make a positive impression.”

2. Limit Q&A responses to just a few minutes. The best candidates limit their Q&A responses to two to three minute bursts. BroadView Talent notes that this methodology allows the candidate to provide thorough and complete answers in a succinct and concise manner. “Candidates who cannot crystallize their thoughts within two to three minutes, tend to lack — or are perceived to lack — the presence, communication, and presentation skills to excel in an executive leadership role,” the firm said. “Moreover, this communication challenge tends to disrupt the search committee’s rhythm, which is the death knell for any candidate. In addition to maintaining great eye contact (even during remote calls), candidates who excel in these Q&A interviews develop great rapport and tend to advance to the next stages of the interview process.”

3. Do not ask this question. If you have to ask the search committee whether you answered a question, the BroadView Talent report says that it is more than likely that you did not. Search committees will never say, “No, you did not answer the question.” That’s because they are trying to be engaging and pleasant and are so focused on getting their questions asked and answered that they do not wish to disrupt the flow of the Q&A process, the BroadView Talent report said. “If you believe you have not answered a question, don’t get bogged down. Rather, do better on the next questions, projecting confidence and poise.”

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4. Be mindful of the “ums” and “uhs. Many times, candidates don’t realize exactly how many times they utter “um” or “uh” during the course of an interview, according to the BroadView Talent report. “If you exceed three to five of these within an hour-long interview, you will potentially lose your audience which carries a penalty of not advancing to future rounds,” it said. “Practice your delivery, and when you see and sense yourself projecting in this manner, revert to taking a deep breath and pausing a moment to collect your thoughts. This will help you maintain focus and concentration.”

5. Do not use the following phrase: “That is a great question.”Let’s presume that all of a search committee’s questions are good ones. “By singling out one or two, you run the risk of offending those who asked the others,” the BroadView Talent report said. “In addition, candidates often use this phrase as a means of ‘buying time’ so that they can deliver the perfect answer. Eliminate this habit to stay engaged and aligned with the search committee.”

6. Refrain from saying “I am going to be honest with you.” Alternatively, you can say, “let me be frank” or “allow me to be candid,” but BroadView Talent says to never give your audience the sense that you are not otherwise being honest with them during the course of your interview.

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7. Make sure your home technology setup is top-notch. BroadView Talent notes to ensure that you have a strong wifi signal and use a computer or tablet for online interviews. “Never use a phone or take an interview in an outside setting or inside your car,” the firm said. “These may seem like common sense suggestions, but you would not believe what we have seen and witnessed since March of 2020.”

8. Address individual search committee members with questions. If you have done well to provide succinct and concise answers, the you will likely have 10 to 12 minutes to ask questions of the search committee. “Ensure that you provide strategic, insightful and thoughtful questions to specific individuals on the search committee,” BroadView Talent said. “Doing so demonstrates that you did your homework, researching search committee members and their backgrounds. It also prevents you from asking the pedestrian describe-your-culture and what-keeps-you-up-at-night questions that really don’t move the needle. In addition, by addressing individuals with questions, you prevent search committee members from having to determine who will answer your question.”

The BroadView Talent report notes that you don’t need luck to excel as an interviewee: “Simply be authentic and genuine in your approach. We have seen so many candidates who — on paper — should flourish, but who derail during the interview process because they are making subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, mistakes. By adhering to the guidance above, you will project the image that you desire and allow adrenaline to outweigh nerves. The result could very well be your dream job or, better yet, the achievement of your highest career goal or aspiration.”

Founded in 2015, BroadView Talent Partners is a national executive search firm dedicated to placing leadership in affordable housing agencies, non-profit organizations, and associations, as well as middle market companies. The firm provides clients with a national network; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a record of long-tenured placements. Its specialties include executive search, talent acquisition, retention solutions, career management, executive coaching, and board development.

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Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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