Briefing Professionals – How to Prepare for an Executive-Style Interview

Nov 04, 2022

In a market where Briefing Professionals are highly regarded corporate assets, they sometimes seem to end up on the “defensive end of the stick” when it comes to the job interview process. The problem is that we prepare for an interrogation rather than a conversation. In my past as an interview candidate, I must admit I have been guilty of prepping by practicing regurgitating dates of employment, chronologically listing previous roles and responsibilities, and coming up with canned answers for those highly anticipated “gotcha” questions. I could rattle off accomplishments like nobody’s business, too. Afterall, I needed to be well-versed in all aspects of my career journey and be capable of explaining how my course was charted. Basically, I prepared for and was more comfortable talking about past achievements, rather than the future… since the future was uncertain, anyway. Somehow, I managed to secure responsible positions with that method of preparation and interaction, but I never felt like I was on equal footing with the interviewer, particularly if he or she was an executive.
Man interviewing for a briefing professionals jobMan interviewing for a briefing professionals job
When being interviewed by an executive, I suggest painting a picture of what you could do for the organization and the executive that would bring value, both in the short term and long term. Learning how to do this puts you in the driver’s seat. And, speaking of seats, I had executives sitting on the edges of theirs wanting to learn more about my strategy. I became comfortable asking and answering questions and enjoyed sharing new concepts and ideas. Mostly they wanted to know: How could I drive utilization? How would I go about expanding the operation? How could I encourage sales to participate in the program? How could I impact business? What could I do to improve the quality of a customer engagement?

Rather than memorizing a litany of accomplishments when being interviewed by an executive, showcase your ability to be a strategic thinker, to innovate, to problem solve, and demonstrate what you could do as the leader of a program that would influence and accelerate the company’s business goals.

From an executive’s perspective, when interviewing you, they want to know:
  • Are you aligned with the company’s vision and strategic direction?
  • How do you solve problems?
  • Do you have creative ideas for improving an existing problem?
  • Can you fill a gap in the organization?
  • How do you lead teams to greatness?
  • Are you agile and flexible?
  • Do you have a strategic plan?
  • Do you have statistical thinking skills?
  • Can you work cross-functionally with other executives and peers?
  • Can you influence more revenue?
  • How would you advocate for your program? Your team?
  • Do you have emotional intelligence, and can you use it effectively in the workplace?
  • What transformational ideas do you have?
  • What would you do in your first 90 days?

Prior to the interview, just as the executive may have scanned your resume, perused your LinkedIn profile, and spoken briefly with a Human Resources Recruiter, you should research the executive(s) with whom you will be meeting. Just as you do before briefings, get to know the personas and personality types of the executives who will be having that interview conversation with you. Do you have similar values, and have you discovered common ground with your interviewer before going into that meeting?
Remember, lead the conversation with your passion and ability to do the job. Bring the executive on a conversational journey of how, if hired, your vision and strategy would take the organization to new heights. Don’t find yourself mired in the past or simply answering the executive’s questions as they are tossed your way, lead the two-way dialogue with transparency, honesty, and confidence. And, most of all, focus on what’s on the organization’s horizon and how you will take it to the next level from a business, operational and transformational strategic perspective.