The Best Advice for Senior Executive Interviews

March 9th, 2011 by lewis

By Patty Azzarello

I almost hired a guy sight unseen once who had on his resume “wheelchair rugby champion.” 
He was also very talented – but that’s not what impressed me initially, or most.

I have interviewed hundreds of people for executive and senior management positions. Virtually all of the people were qualified –
more than half of them were boring.

Now, more than ever – it’s time to stand out.

One mistake people make is to present themselves as a “package of skills.” 
This is shooting yourself in the foot. It’s dull. 
It’s unimpressive. It positions you badly.
 It bores the interviewer to death!

Boring: I have a lot of experience leading complex projects and programs. I always deliver on time.

Sticky: I am very competitive, always have been. So I make sure the goal is not only clearly defined, but looming large, to motivate the team to cross that finish line, because I am so driven to win. A great example of this is a funny story about when I was racing Italian motorcycles…

Boring: I have led service organizations for technology companies for 15 years. I have experience in software and hardware.

Sticky: I have an unusual combination of strengths. I am both highly analytical AND hugely action oriented. I can analyze a lot of information quickly, but then I’m driven to ACT – not get more data. This has always been true about me. An interesting example: in college, I created and ran a children’s marine science competition…

Boring: I have exceeded quota for 17 quarters in a row.

Sticky: I have a strong sense of empathy and I’m kind of obsessive about maximizing success in any situation. Customers love me because it’s always clear that I am creating and fighting for exactly what they need. As a result I have been able to make my numbers consistently in good times and bad.

Don’t skip the weird stuff!

I know a sales manager who had a former career directing theater. I know an engineering manager who is an award winning chef! Everyone that interviews them knows it too.

It’s as important to be memorable, as it is to make a good impression in the first place. The one who does competitive origami gets far more traction than the one who said they are good at delivering products on time?

The higher the position, the less the work skills matter, and the more it matters who you are as a human, what your values are, what your natural strengths are, how you lead, and how you choose and develop people.

Sure you need to cover the skills to get the interview, but to win the job –

You need to convey WHY you are good at what you do.

By discussing your core strengths and values you show people what they are going to get when they get YOU; it shows in a more concrete way, why they can be confident that you will be successful.

Really think about why you are good at what you do. What makes you different? What are the things that are always true about you, how you work, and why you are successful?

This is your interview gold.

Patty Azzarello is an executive, author, speaker and CEO advisor. Her company, Azzarello Group, Inc. works with corporate management teams to execute better and develop their leaders. Follow Patty on Twitter and check out her new book Rise…How to be Really Successful at Work AND Like Your Life.


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