We’ve worked with thousands of job seekers, and know from our executive search practice that nearly all interviewers rely on a fairly standard set of executive interview questions.

While it’s impossible to know exactly what you’ll be asked, chances are you’ll see some variation of these questions. You can give yourself a leg up and walk into the interview more confident by preparing your responses to these interview questions in advance.

We’ll start by giving you the formula to use to answer ANY behavioral interview question and then we’ll dive into ten executive interview questions you should absolutely expect to be asked.

The formula for answering behavioral interview questions

While there may not be a “right” answer for most behavioral interview questions, one of the aspects your interviewer will evaluate is how well you structure your answer.

The PAR technique provides an easy structure for answering behavioral interview questions. PAR stands for Problem, Action, Result.

  • Start by describing the Problem or situation was that you had to handle.
  • Next, explain the Action you took to address the problem.
  • Finally, describe the Result of your actions and decisions. Make sure to quantify the results.

10 commonly asked executive interview questions

1. What is the greatest accomplishment of your career?

This is a classic interview question and one you should absolutely be prepared to answer. It is also a great opportunity to practice the art of the humble brag.

Describe a great challenge you overcame, how your work helped your company achieve a milestone record or a personal goal that you set for yourself and surpassed.

Don’t be arrogant or smug (here’s where the “humble” part comes in) but describe how your hard work helped to make a positive difference for your company or coworkers.

2. If you could change anything in your past, what would that be?

Interviewers ask this question to get an idea about your attitude and your character. Be honest with your answer but put a positive spin on it.

Talk about what you learned from a mistake, how it changed you for the better and how you’ve been able to help others from repeating the same mistake.

3. What skills are you lacking?

Tread lightly here. You don’t want to highlight any areas that would be a red flag on your ability to perform this job well.

Describe areas where your skills are not as strong and then describe how you’re working to strengthen them.

4. What do you dislike about your current job?

This is not an opportunity to bash your current company, talk about how much of a monster your boss is or whine that you’re overqualified for your current position, but they just won’t promote you.

Whatever your job is lacking should be something that this job will fulfill, as well as something that you can help the company with.

5. Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.

You probably tailored your resume to match the qualifications for this job description, in which case, you should have plenty of other skills to discuss. Talk about an attribute or some unique experience you have that could help you in this new position.

6. Tell me about a time when you clashed with your supervisor.

This question shows the interviewer your problem-solving skills and how you handle disagreements with superiors.

Be mature in your response and make sure the story ends on a positive note.

Describe how you worked through the situation, while remaining professional and productive.

7. What makes you excited about Mondays?

This is simple – what do you like about your career? What are you passionate about?

Be positive and upbeat in your response. Let your passion for the job shine through.

8. What will your team learn from you?

Highlight your best leadership qualities and the value your experience and knowledge will bring to a team.

Give examples of how your coaching abilities have helped employees improve their skills in previous jobs.

9. Why do you want to work here?

This is your opportunity to show off how much research you did before this interview.

Give specific facts about the company that you like. Maybe it’s their corporate values, their community involvement or a great new product they’re bringing to market.

10. Why should we hire you?

Put on your salesperson hat to answer this question.

Based on what you’ve gathered from your research, the job description, and the interview process, what is it that they need that you can provide?

Explain how your qualifications and experience make you the absolute best fit for this position.

Tips for acing executive interview questions

When you’re using examples in your answers, always quantify them if possible.  You can tell your interviewer you’re a “fast runner” (for example) but it paints a different picture about your dedication and skill level if you tell them you “run a 4-minute mile.”

Also, keep your answers to a maximum of 90 seconds.  Failing to be concise in your answers can cost you the job. This is the second biggest reason, just behind lack of preparation, that hiring authorities cite for cutting candidates. 

While it’s important to fully answer the question, if your response goes on more than about a minute it’s usually too long. Ensure you’re monitoring the body language of your interviewer as well; they’ll usually start giving you clues if you’re rambling or speaking too quickly.

Practice makes perfect

Preparing for an interview is crucial for a success. By understanding common interview questions and practicing your responses, you can confidently showcase your qualifications and fit for the role.

Your resume is the ticket to the job of your dreams, so it’s critical to avoid making these common resume mistakes that will cause hiring managers and recruiters to put your resume into the “no” pile.

We receive hundreds of resumes each month, and those that stand out have a clear focus, content that showcases the results the executive has achieved (rather than duties), and a simple, easy-to-read design. 

To ensure that your resume is an effective marketing piece for you and gets you interviews, ensure you avoid these common resume mistakes.

Resume errors to avoid

1. Listing duties but not accomplishments

A long list of all of the things you’ve been responsible for in your previous jobs means very little to a potential employer.

Instead, discuss what you’ve accomplished through those responsibilities.

Recap your successes in each position and list challenges you’ve overcome. These will have far more impact than simply stating that you managed projects and implemented new procedures. Re-position your duties as accomplishments that demonstrate your capabilities and qualifications.

2. Failing to quantify your impact

Before making a big purchase, you likely do a little research first. In your research, you probably see facts like 95 percent of users gave a 5-star review or four-out-of-five doctors recommend this product. Isn’t it more reassuring to see a list of these hard numbers rather than just a list of attributes about the product on the company’s website?

Now apply that thought process to your resume. Failing to quantify accomplishments is the number one resume mistake we see!

Filling your resume with flowery language about how you led your team to success or implemented new systems means very little to a hiring manager without quantifiables to back up your claims. When it comes to landing an executive-level position, you need to be specific about exactly what you’ve accomplished.

Perhaps you increased sales by 78 percent or helped decrease employee turnover by 20 percent.

Including quantifiable, hard facts helps to validate your achievements in the eyes of the hiring manager.

3. Over-designing your resume

Incorporating fancy graphs, charts, colors or images into your resume may capture a recruiter’s attention, but it might not be for the right reason.

Elaborately-designed resumes are often more difficult to decipher and cause the reader to have to hunt for relevant information.

Picking an ineffective resume template is one of the most common resume mistakes we see.

Unless you’re applying for a job in a field like graphic design, it’s better to stick to a resume in a classic format with a simple, black, sans-serif font. You won’t get an interview if the hiring manager can’t read your resume.

Remember, your resume is the first impression a potential employer will have of you, so take the time to tailor it to the job position and tell your career story as effectively and efficiently as possible.

4. Including too much or not enough

Like Goldilocks, you want to make sure your resume is not too short, not too long, but just the right length to highlight your greatest accomplishments and your breadth of experience.

There’s a common misconception that a resume should be no longer than one page, but that is simply not true nor is it feasible for a professional who has reached an executive level.

Even if you don’t have years of experience under your belt, by the time you’re ready to take on the C-suite, you’ve likely got more experience and knowledge than one page can contain – at least not without using an unreadable small font.

It’s also important not to try to fill up several pages just to make it look like you’ve got a lot of experience. Listing out every single job responsibility you’ve ever had on your resume is a waste of your time and your potential employer’s time.

While a good rule of thumb is to aim for three pages or fewer, remember that your resume should be only long enough to give the recruiter the information they need to determine you’re a qualified candidate for the position.

5. Using a one-size-fits-all resume

Just as you should tailor the suit you wear to the interview, you need to tailor your resume to the job description. Taking the time to customize your resume to the keywords in the job listing will help you stand out as a qualified candidate.

However, do not lie or stretch the truth about your work history to make yourself look like the right person for the job.

You must have the experience and knowledge to back up what your resume says; if you don’t have the right experience, look elsewhere, but if you do, then make sure that is very clear in your resume.

6. Including an objective statement

While objective statements were a resume trend in the past, including one is now a resume mistake.

A potential employer doesn’t need a summary of what you’re looking for in a job.

Instead, tell them what you are brining to the position. These are called executive statements, and they are essentially just a few sentences that describe your qualifications and what you have to offer to the position.

As with the rest of your resume, it’s important to tailor this summary to the position.

7. Writing with lazy language

An executive’s resume needs to be filled with powerful, action-oriented words. A resume with half-sentences about improving processes and meeting quotas is lackluster at best.

When you’re vying for the C-suite, use energetic and authoritative words like launched, initiated and motivated. Be proud of the accomplishments you’ve made and use language that reflects the importance of what you’ve done.

Action verbs will keep the reader interested and help improve the flow of your resume.

8. Skipping spell check

This is one of the easiest mistakes to avoid, and unfortunately, one of the most common. Spelling and grammatical errors may not seem like a huge deal, but they are often deal-breakers for hiring managers.

Think about it from your potential employer’s perspective: If you can overlook typos on your resume, you can probably overlook errors in your work.

Small errors can lead to costly mistakes that an employer may not be able to afford, especially from an executive-level employee.

Take the extra time to proofread your resume and run it by a colleague or friend as well to ensure you don’t overlook anything.

9. Overusing buzzwords

Saturating your resume with industry buzzwords will probably do nothing but irritate the hiring manager. You certainly need to understand and be able to properly use your industry’s key buzzwords, but you don’t have to prove your knowledge of them in your resume. It’s acceptable to incorporate them sparingly where appropriate, but if you stuff your resume full of industry jargon, you run the risk of looking like you’re trying too hard and getting your resume tossed in the trash.

Make your resume work for you

Before you submit your resume, we encourage you to carefully evaluate your resume against this list to make sure you’re not making these common resume mistakes. 

It takes courage to admit something isn’t working with your resume.

But the sooner you fix your resume mistakes, the faster you’ll be on your way to career success.