How to nail a job interview with the boss

The more senior the job the more senior your interviewers! Here we share a few tips on how to prepare for a job interview with the boss.

How to nail a job interview with the boss

If you’re applying for a senior position in an engineering design consultancy, there’s a good chance that at some point in the recruitment process you’ll come face-to-face boss. That might be in the form of a job interview with the Chief Exec or equivalent ‘head honcho’ in that firm.

At this stage of the interview process your technical skills and abilities will be well known. It’s highly unlikely that you’d be invited to meet the boss unless they’re clear that you’re a competent engineer with relevant experience, qualifications and projects under your belt.

Instead they’ll be looking for other qualities that you may not have had scrutinised before. Moving into a senior role naturally comes with additional responsibilities. As well as the technical aspect of your role, you may also have a supervisory and organisational role to play. The role could be more client-facing than in previous jobs, and you could also become part of a strategic team for the business.

Below are the key things they will be looking for so you can tick these boxes.

Job interview with the chief executive? 5 boxes to tick

  1. Are you commercially aware?

In previous interview situations for less senior roles you’ll have focused on your technical skills and relevant experience. Now you need to demonstrate how these skills can deliver results for the company you’re applying to. The CEO wants to know what return on investment (ROI) you present to their business, so give them some figures. Have you got examples of projects you’ve delivered that made savings, achieved accolades, resulted in new contracts etc.?

  1. Are you strategic?

In previous less senior roles your focus has probably been on delivering a project, and then moving on to the next. Not long term strategic plans for the company, its vision and mission. Now you’ll need to start thinking more strategically about how everything the firm does helps it achieve its business goals.

Start with why you’re in the interview seat. How does this hire help the firm? Although you may not have direct experience of this strategic planning, you can see how the work you do fits in with your current employer’s plans and demonstrate an awareness at interview. There may even be opportunities to discuss projects you’ve been involved in and relate those to the company’s business strategy.

  1. How well do you handle challenges?

It’s very easy to say that you are “up for a challenge”, but we’re not talking about taking part in a Tough Muddler. What about handling difficult situations in the workplace, whether this involves managing team members, clients or having your decisions challenged? You may want to highlight examples from your work experience where you have met specific challenges, but also be prepared to be challenged in the interview.

If the CEO disagrees with something you say, or is combative in your interview, how will you handle this?

  1. Will you be a good cultural fit?

The Chief Exec will be looking for someone who will fit in with their existing team. They’ll be wondering how well you will work with other senior staff, and whether you will be able to convey their company culture to others you come in contact with. Company culture is not just about Beer Friday’s or the dress code. It’s also about the shared vision, mission and goals the company has and how this is reflected in the work it does, relationships with clients, suppliers, contractors etc. and the people who work there.

Have you got a clear idea of what the company’s culture is? If not do some online research; have a good look at the company’s website, social media and also other senior employee’s online profiles.

  1. Are you trustworthy?

As a senior employee you are likely to handle confidential information and be party to sensitive issues and decisions. It’s a difficult job to judge whether someone is trustworthy especially if they have not had this type of role before. The best way to demonstrate that you can be trusted is to put it in practice. Don’t be drawn into personal discussions about your current employer, don’t divulge confidential information about their company and be diplomatic about your reasons for leaving.

Can you offer any further advice about interviews with the Chief Executive? Putting yourself in their shoes, what would you be looking for? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

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