Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Mistakes C-Suite candidates make in job interviews

Although C-Suite executives have decades of experience in developing business and interpersonal skills, it doesn't mean that they aren't susceptible to making mistakes in that all-important job interview. Here are some of the most notable blunders...

Putting the brakes on career progression

Many executives are guilty of this one – they get to the top of the corporate pyramid and then sit back, without thinking of how they can continuously develop their skills, qualifications and network so that they are open to new opportunities. A good way to stay on track with your senior role and to improve your employability in an interview (should you want to change roles in future), is with a course from a business school such as Hult International Business School under your belt. A business school will offer a range of programmes and courses designed for executives to help them prepare for the next stage in their career and aid progression.   

Disconnection with the job market

Some executives do not spend time actively looking for work or researching the job market. This means that the longer they spend out of the job-hunting game, the more rusty they become. A good C-suite executive understands how the general recruitment process works, keeping in touch with recruiters and using simple ways to keep abreast of job markets to maintain an awareness of desired skill sets and what rival companies may be looking for in their employees. Another huge advantage of this is that when an executive speaks to a recruiter or interviewer because they want to change their own job, they appear less nervous and out of touch. 

Assuming the job is theirs based on experience alone

Simply put, this assumption should never be made. In any job interview, you should always sell yourself and prove to the interviewer that you are the right fit for the position. Many executives have been in their jobs for years, and have become used to being in more senior positions as leaders. Experience alone however will not get them the position. Going in to an interview with a sense of arrogance or that you are greater than those interviewing you will certainly not work in your favour. Any executive will need to show willingness, flexibility, communication, honesty and compassion in their interview to secure the role. Also, bear in mind that many executive recruiters see senior executives of companies every day, so rest assured that they will neither feel intimidated nor impressed by your seniority.    

Lacking in passion

The person interviewing you needs to know why you want this job and whether you are truly passionate about the position. You should be able to demonstrate why you love what you do, and give examples. Don't just tell the interviewer that you are passionate – tell a story and relay a particular instance when you demonstrated just how much you love your job. Also share how your passion for your work is in balance with the rest of your life. Don't be afraid to mention your other interests and passions too, and how they overlap with your work – it all adds a more personal touch.

Disregard for appearance

Believe it or not, even executives get it wrong sometimes when it comes to dress code for an interview. Even if your office typically has a more casual policy about appearance, you are still attending an interview to make a good impression. Some executives gain a sense of entitlement that stretches all the way down to how they dress. Wear business attire to be on the safe side, and to show that you care about how you come across to an interviewer.

Being unprepared

This is a major interview mistake that even executives cannot afford to make. Research the position you are interviewing for thoroughly, and be prepared with some mental examples of how you meet the criteria being asked for. Also research the company – what they do, their mission, their figures, subsidiaries, etc. At the very least, cast your eye over the company's website and have a firm grasp of what they do.

Interrogating the interviewer

If you have a job as an executive, after several years in the role it is all too easy to naturally become the one doing the questioning. After all, this is what you do every day for a living to ensure that your company runs smoothly. However, this is not how you should behave in your interview. The interviewer is not your employee – remember that an interview is a business conversation between two people on equal terms. While you should always ask appropriate questions of the interviewer to ensure that the position is right for you, you shouldn't be interrogating the interviewer, as this will have a negative impact on their overall impression of you and your management style.  

Everyone makes mistakes in interviews, but by understanding the most common blunders, executives can better prepare themselves for increased chances of success when in the hot seat.