What seasoned recruiters have learned:
Most standard interview questions are simply not designed to allow an executive to show off their capabilities, ideas, and innovation. Recruiters are bored with cookie cutter interview questions and the answers people give, which don’t reveal what a recruiter really needs to know.
Here are a few non-traditional interview questions that top recruiters prefer to ask over the mundane ”tell me about yourself” question because they focus on real problems, the job, the industry, and the company.
As an executive job seeker, don’t be caught off guard if these types of questions surface at an interview.
Identifying and solving real problems ……
Question: Solve a real problem that you will face.
Recruiter: At this point, the recruiter may hand you a paper outlining an existing problem the hiring company faces. Then, they will ask: “Please walk me through the steps you would take in order to solve this problem.”
Executive: You will need to quickly assess the problem and respond to the recruiter with a viable step-by-step answer. In some instances, the recruiter may ask that you return a PowerPoint presentation in 48 hours with your solutions or recommendations.
Forward thinking …….
Question: Forecast the evolution of this industry.
Recruiter: “Tell me how often you focus on the future of this industry? Please forecast and project five trends in the industry and how the top companies will likely have to change over the next 3-5 years as a result of business changes, new technology, and the need for increased efficiencies and innovations.”
Executive: Companies are quickly evolving today and they want to make sure the executives they are hiring are forward thinkers who anticipate and plan for the future. If you are a veteran in your industry, it may be fairly easy to respond to this question based on your experience. However, if you are changing industries at this point in your career, you will want to study up on the industry trends and predictions to be able to give an informed response.
Question: Give an example of your adaptability when dramatic change is required.
Recruiter: The recruiter will provide a possible “major change” that requires adaptability. Then, they will ask: “Show me how you would adapt to this situation that may occur in this job.” Alternatively, they may ask you to talk about a situation and the steps you took in your current or former job that required you to change rapidly and proceed with a different approach.
Executive: Being flexible in a job is pretty much a requirement as you know. But flexibility and adaptability are different, and the recruiter wants to know if this is an easy process that you can take in your stride or one that you have difficulty with because you are a more structured person.
How you like to be managed ……
Question: Please highlight the most effective approach for managing you.
Recruiter: “For each factor (feedback, rewards, communication, leadership style preference, etc.), explain the most effective approach to optimizing your performance.”
Executive: This is an open opportunity to share your preferences in a most conservative way of course. Personally, I think this is somewhat of a “throw out” question because the information you provide will most likely not have a huge impact on whether you are the right “hire.” But, looking at it from the recruiter’s standpoint, if you reveal that you work best with an open leadership style that gives you autonomy and your potential boss is a micro-manager, then this could be an indication that you may not work well together.
Standard interview questions typically focus on experiences in your past, and those still have value.
But what recruiters also need to know is how you will perform in the job they are seeking to fill.
That requires recruiters to ask non-traditional and unconventional interviews questions where you can demonstrate how well you will fit into the new position with your problem-solving abilities, your forward thinking, adaptability, and a variety of other factors that will help you stand out as an exceptional executive. Knowing how to answer these types of questions will go a long way to helping you close that interview and land that new job.