When you are interviewing candidates for an executive-level job, some of the most important distinctions between the candidates will be their leadership style and culture fit.
Executives are usually in leadership positions and they are responsible for setting and meeting goals while also ensuring that the people they are managing can support those goals as well.
It is expected out of executives to deliver results and make tough decisions, which is why it is crucial how they fit within the team.
In this article, we will be exploring some of the best executive interview questions to ask when interviewing candidates for a C-level position. You will find all the right executive interview questions to ask the candidates as well as the reason to ask them so that you can tailor your interview to best fit your circumstances.
Here are the 26 best executive interview questions (and why you should ask them)
1. How would you describe our company?
If you want to determine whether or not a candidate has researched your company, you should ask this question. Candidates that have done their research are almost always the ones that are actually interested in the job.
2. Why do you want to work here and be a leader in our company?
This question should help you understand whether the candidate’s professional values match with the values you need from your leaders. A mismatch in values could have negative consequences on your company.
3. As a leader, what are your strongest traits?
Ask this question to determine how the candidates view themselves as a leader and which of their positive traits do they value the most.
4. What is your management style?
This is one of those executive interview questions you should ask if you want to learn more about how the candidate plans on managing the employees and what type of leader they view themselves as.
You should look for candidates that have a similar management style to the other executives in your company and that works for your employees.
5. What do you think needs to be changed at this company? Where are we succeeding?
Another great question to determine whether or not a candidate has done their research about your company. The right candidate is most likely the one that has shown that they are familiar with your history and what you do.
6. How do you reward your employees for doing good work?
Rewards are important for the efficiency, productivity, and happiness of employees. If your employees are not satisfied with their job and the benefits they get, your company will suffer.
That is why this is one of the most important executive interview questions, as you want to hire a candidate that shares the same values as you when it comes to rewarding employees.
7. How would you approach an employee that is performing their work poorly?
To determine what type of motivator a candidate is, ask this question.
You will want to look for a candidate that can motivate your employees to fix their mistakes without causing any stress, anxiety, or negativity with them or other employees.
8. Please describe your last manager. What did you admire from them?
This question is a great reflection of what leadership traits a candidate truly admires and upholds both from their past employers and in general.
You want to look for candidates that admire the same traits as the other leaders in your company.
9. Did you ever have a negative experience with a manager? If you did, what caused it?
Ask this question if you want to hear how the candidate learns from experience and how they use their previous experiences to perfect their leadership style.
10. How do you motivate your employees?
To figure out whether the candidate has the right skills and methods to motivate the employees they are leading, be sure to ask this question.
11. What are you looking to accomplish in your first six months as an employee in this company?
This is a great question to get an insight into how the candidate plans and strategies, as well as what their current plans are.
The answers to this question will also show you whether the candidate’s plans align with the plans of the company and what do they already know about how your company operates.
12. What is your strategy for increasing the company revenue?
The task of almost all executives is to bring money to the company. That is why this is one of the most important executive interview questions that you need to ask.
The answer to this question could help you determine whether the candidate has the right experience, knowledge, and skills to generate revenue for the company and thus help you fulfill your financial goals.
13. How would you sell an idea to your team?
All great leaders have to be great at persuasion.
Ask this question if you want to see how a candidate approaches a situation where persuasive skills are needed, which happens regularly with C-level positions.
14. How would you address employee complaints about company procedures?
All companies have procedures in place.
Those procedures are not always fair to everyone, which is why the occasional issues can happen. If an issue or a conflict happens within the team, an executive has to step in to solve it.
The right candidate’s answer will show you their ability to adequately resolve employee issues.
15. What metrics do you see as the most important when evaluating the performance of the employees?
Ask this question to easily determine what people and work traits does a candidate value the most.
Look for candidates who value the same traits as the company, as that is the only way to ensure that the candidate will be able to measure the performance of his teammates based on metrics that your company values.
16. How would you ensure a successful employee onboarding process?
Ask this question to determine how a candidate would help new employees onboard to the company and adjust to the company’s life.
The best candidate will have the ability to help the candidate quickly get up and running in the company.
17. What areas do you believe you could improve in as a person on a professional level?
If you want to learn more about the leadership qualities of a candidate, make sure to ask this question.
Also, and this is more a general tip, make sure you document all the answers to the questions, as it will be easier for you when you have to make a decision.
While you can just take notes about each of the candidates, a better option is to keep the candidates’ answers in an online recruiting system such as Recruiteze, which can significantly reduce your time and money spent on hiring by automating your recruiting workflows and processes.
18. How would you help improve communication between different teams and departments in the company?
The answer to this question could help you learn more about how a candidate handles specific situations that contribute to the company’s productivity, both positively and negatively.
19. What is the most satisfying for you about being in a leadership role?
To understand more about the candidate as a person and why they enjoy working in a leadership role, ask this question.
20. How would you improve the workplace culture in the company?
Ask the candidates this question to see what their leadership strategies are and make sure to seek out the candidates whose leadership strategies fit with your company’s goals and values.
21. Why are you leaving your current position?
With this question, you are trying to find the internal values and motivations of the candidate when trying to find a new opportunity.
The answer to this question will also provide you with an insight into what they consider meaningful in their professional life.
22. What makes you an effective person?
An executive’s work style and whether or not it complements your company’s culture is one of the most important determinants when finding the right candidate, which makes this one of the best executive interview questions to figure out what type of a worker a candidate is.
23. Do you take on any leadership roles outside of the workplace? If so, what are they and why?
A great candidate has to be a great person both on and off work.
This is one of the better executive interview questions to determine the personality, values, and qualities that are meaningful for the candidate.
24. What are the most challenging aspects of your job as an executive?
Ask this question to see how a candidate overcomes the many challenges of leadership and being an executive.
25. Can you tell me about a difficult experience you have encountered as a leader?
Another of the great executive interview questions to figure out what candidates think of as challenges or negative experiences.
If they describe a situation that you feel is not difficult, you should probably reconsider them as the right candidate.
26. If you had a choice of any job and any company, where would you go?
One of the best executive interview questions to see what kind of a person a candidate is. The answer to this question will help you learn more about their personality and interests.
Before concluding, ensure to check these interesting but often overlooked interview questions.