Corporate climates have reset their thermostats so that no one person takes the heat or the credit for hiring choices. Even before economic downturns, we were seeing widespread indoctrination of project management and change team approaches. What this means is that when you interview for a position, you will have interviews with more people than was previously the case.
Gone are the days when you presented yourself to one or two chairpersons and waited for them to recruit you. You can expect to meet with several board members, the human resources director, and several of the department directors who will interact closely with the department you will be heading. Even if you are going after the top executive position, expect to meet with chief fiscal and operating officers as well as project management and programming directors. And with these many different interviews, you must be prepared to present yourself as the person who adapts to all management styles.
Each of these people will look for the qualities that they want in a leader, so there is no one brand anymore. The decades-old approach of the senior-level candidate as the single authoritative executive who oversees all has changed.
This places more responsibility on the candidate to do the homework. You must research the company’s needs. How has it evolved over the past decade? In just the last couple of years, what events have put it in the news? How does its current leadership perceive its future goals? You should also look at an organization’s competitors to see how they are dealing with similar issues.
If you are preparing to go for the interview, you must not only present yourself as a person for all styles, but you must also prepare to withstand grueling interview questions. Prepare to demonstrate that you the versatile multi-tasker who will interact with plethoric evolving corporate needs.
Interviewers will question your financial savvy, even if you are not a fiscal overseer. They will ask you to define your current profit and loss responsibility, and whether it has been restricted to specific departments or at the overall corporate level. How do you handle operating budgets and capital budgets?
They will want to get a feel of your synergistic capacity. Have you functioned in joint operations? They will ask you to discuss productivity, performance, and efficiency, and be prepared to quantify results.
You should also be specific about your technological aptitude. Companies want someone who will jump on board with interactive communications possibilities. Which technologies have you worked with and which newcomers do you predict to be successful?
Many executives today have not yet grasped that they have to portray, in an interview, how their own rise to the top has evolved. What were your career interests when you graduated from college? What affected the way your work life changed over the years? Recruitment committees want to know this because it helps them visualize how you will fit into their corporate culture. They want to see that you are hungry for this position, that you are actively seeking it. Go after that position, because that avidity is the trademark of today’s senior-level executives.