Questions Every C-Level Candidate Should Ask During an Interview |

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Here are a few questions to ask when you are given an opportunity to ask questions at your interviews.

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A lot of the work I do is with very senior professionals or a coach them into new organizations and roles. I am not a recruiter anymore; I coach. As a result, I work with people to help them interview well, network well, negotiate well because it is one thing to be on the hiring side. It’s another thing to be on the “selling my services” side.

I thought I would do a video that covers some of the questions I encourage people to ask at interviews. These are really basic things, but it's a launch point for the conversation that will eventually, where they turn things around and say, “So, do you have any questions for us you?”

So, the first one is really very simple. I'm sure you're already asking this as well as the ancillary to it that I also include.

“What does success generally look like and how will you measure my success?”

Really, you want to understand what the performance expectations they’re going to have a you over the first 30, 60, and 90 days. Six months. One year. How are they going to do the evaluation for you. How frequently will they evaluate you, critique you, make judgments about you and what will your success need to look like. That's really the first question or questions you want to cover.

The next one is what are the expectations from the Board? Do they have a real concern about this role based upon previous circumstances or, in creating the role, was there an issue that needed to be addressed that they thought was particularly important so that you make sure you cover it?

Which leads to the obvious thing. What are the expected challenges that you're going to face? There are always lots of them but you want to identify the largest ones that they have an expectation you will have to address. Surprises are rarely good and this kind of ties into the notion of what success will look like, r how they will measure you because how you address these challenges really will reflect on how the board is going to see you when it comes time to sit down with you talk with you and talk with you again.

Lastly, again, this is also a launch point for conversation, what sort of discretion are you going to having your role. Sometimes, people are surprised when they step into new organizations the degree to which they are on a leash. It's an interesting phenomenon. I don’t care if it’s at the highest levels of an organization or a couple notches down, people of expectation of a certain amount of free rein and then, lo and behold, they discovered there really isn't that much freedom that they have to make decisions or to sign off on purchases or acquisitions, hire and fire. You just want to get a sense of what sort of discretion you're going to have in the role because, like I said, surprises rarely good. There are very few situations that people step into where they discover, “Oh, I can do even more than I thoughts!” It’s always less.

So, at least get a sense of what sort of discretion you're going to have stepping in. Again, this is not a thorough list. This is “a launch point” list. This is where you start off your Q&A at the back and.

You can also, of course, explore things like the successes of your predecessor in the role, or, if there wasn't one, you can ask, “what mitigated or prompted the decision to create the role.” Which kind of leads back into the challenges and causes them to expand the discussion the challenges even more. That’s because, normally, a new position is created as a reaction to a problem that previously occurred.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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