According to ExecuNet in their 2012 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 59% of executive recruiters are “confident” or “very confident” that employment opportunities for executives will open up over the coming months. That’s great news if you want to expand your career horizons. But first you’ll need to get through the all-important job interview.
Whether your next interview is via phone or in person, preparation is the key to success. Use these tips to stand out from the competition.
Do your homework.
Learn everything you can about the company itself and key individuals, especially your interviewer. Check out the company website and social media sites, and ask around.
Become a savvy networker.
Join professional associations if you aren’t already a member. And join social media groups, especially on LinkedIn. You’ll expand your contacts and stay abreast of the latest trends and innovations in your field – a good idea even if you aren’t in the job market.
Know your value proposition.
Remember, it’s all about them, not you. Ask yourself:
- How will the company benefit from investing in you as an employee?
- How do your outside activities make you a better candidate? Contacts? Community contribution? Personal leadership development?
- Do you voluntarily engage in continuing education?
- What makes you the best choice?
Recruiters say the three most sought-after qualifications for management and executive candidates are also the hardest to find, so be sure to tell prospective employers about your:
- Ability to form and lead high-performing teams.
- Industry-specific expertise.
- Ability to lead strategic thinking and execution.
Review your accomplishments and strongest attributes to build confidence and keep these details top-of-mind for your job interview. Ask friends and colleagues how they’d describe you. It’s likely you’ll be asked a variation of this question during your interview, so you’ll be prepared to smile modestly and say “my colleagues have used words like xxx and yyy.”
Listen carefully so you can give concise-but-specific answers. Try not to spend more than two or three minutes per answer. And be well-prepared to address anything negative in your history with a positive response, emphasizing what you learned from the experience or how you’re doing things differently now.
Write them down in priority order, since you probably won’t have time to ask all of them. Do not:
- Ask about salary or benefits.
- Ask what they do or make.
- Use slang, jargon or unattractive language.
- Make derogatory or personal remarks about anyone, especially former employers or colleagues.
- Talk about personal problems.
- Disclose personal information such as ethnic background or religion.
Don’t forget the basics.
Be on time and look good. Turn off your phone and put it away — your next call is not more important than your interview. Smile, make eye contact and show enthusiasm. And follow up within 24 hours, with a thank-you note that reiterates your continued — or increased — interest in the position.
Perhaps you don’t want to leave, but you do want a raise or more responsibility.
Now’s a good time to make that move. The ExecuNet Executive Job Market Intelligence Report notes more than half of executive recruiters expect companies will increase salaries, bonuses or counter-offers in order to retain top talent. Follow these same interview preparation steps before you present your request to your boss.
As many as three-quarters of companies may be looking to hire executives in a wide variety of industries from perennial favorites like healthcare and high tech to up-and-comers like manufacturing, business services, and consumer products. If you’re prepared, you’ll ace your next job interview and one of those jobs could be yours.