TECH, BUSINESS AND CAREER INSIGHTS

9 Interview Questions CEOs Love to Ask and How to Answer Them

By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars

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When it comes to the interview process, research and preparation are key to success. Taking time to prepare for an interview in advance will set you apart from other candidates because you will walk into the interview feeling confident and in control. Proper preparation allows you to better understand the role and organization, which is pertinent when interviewing with upper level executives and CEOs.

One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is practicing your responses to common interview questions. Below are nine interview questions that CEOs love to ask and how to best answer them.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
This is one of the most frequently asked interview questions. With this question, CEOs are listening to see if you would be a good fit for the organization and whether your skills and qualifications will benefit the growth of the company. This question gives the interviewer a peek into your personality, so that they can determine if it will be compatible with current employees’ personalities.

When responding to this question, begin by defining what you do as it relates to the current position. Mention past experiences and proven successes that align with the new opportunity. While discussing three to five recent professional experiences, try incorporating words that were used in the job description. Focus on your strengths and abilities that you can support with specific examples. How will your current skills translate into the new position? Because they have already reviewed your resume, it is important not to read it word for word.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR?
CEOs want to know what a candidate will accomplish if they are hired for the position. When answering this question, begin by defining your professional goals as they relate to your vision as an employee at their company. It’s important to keep in mind that most employers are seeking candidates that will make significant contributions early on. Companies want to hire highly motivated, proactive and ambitious individuals.

In order to set yourself apart, provide specific examples of how your vast skill set will help the company succeed. What methods and strategies will you use to accomplish your goals? Explain how you will add value to key areas of your work. Employers want to know that you have the organization’s best interest at heart.

TELL ME ABOUT A DIFFICULT WORK SITUATION AND HOW YOU OVERCAME IT
This question is often used to assess how well candidates perform under pressure. Employers are interested in seeing how you would respond to certain challenges or difficult situations. When describing the situation you were tasked with handling, remember that details are important — show, don’t tell. Begin by explaining the situation. Why was it so challenging? Next, mention the specific actions you took to fix the problem. Finally, discuss the results of your actions. What would have happened if you had not reacted that way? This is the perfect time to showcase your problem-solving abilities.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT?
CEOs want to hear about your most impressive accomplishment or what sets you apart from other qualified candidates. The example you use will give the interviewer better insight into your work and achievements. When preparing for this question, refrain from describing multiple small achievements. Instead, discuss the experience that has had the biggest overall impact on your career.

Throughout the story, make sure to share specific facts and details the interviewer will remember. Begin by explaining why the project was necessary. Why was your role so vital? Next, discuss any challenges you overcame. What did you learn from them? Finally, explain how this experience has helped prepare you for this role. Find similarities between your accomplishment and the specific responsibilities and skills that are required for the new position. Focus on what makes you unique.

WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS?
We all have qualities, skills and experiences that set us apart from the competition. CEOs use the strength question to determine if your strengths align with the company’s needs. To prepare, try making a list of your top 10 strengths and skills. These can include your knowledge-based skills, transferable skills and personal traits. Once you complete the list, choose three to five strengths that match the responsibilities listed in the job description. Provide concrete examples that illustrate each of your strengths and how the company will benefit from your strengths.

WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
People often have the hardest time answering this question. The key to answering this question is identifying weaknesses that still communicate strengths. Framing your weaknesses positively can be less challenging when you combine self-awareness with an action plan. For example, mention a previous weakness that you were able to turn into a strength. Be sure to explain how you’re making improvements by looking at the big picture. Discuss how you are striving for quality and balance. Everyone has weaknesses, but employers are more interested in learning how you are working to overcome it.

DESCRIBE A TIME YOU HAD TO WORK IN A TEAM SETTING AND YOUR ROLE IN THE TEAM
Collaborating effectively is critical to productivity and company success, regardless of the industry. To answer this question, begin by describing the context of the situation, like when and where the project took place. Next, explain the mission and goal of the group. While it is important to emphasize your role on the team, try not to focus too much on your individual success. Instead, focus on how you helped the team achieve something together. If you were a team leader, explain what actions you took to complete the project and overcome obstacles. How did you help the team understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses and interests? Finally, explain the results. Discuss what you learned and how it will help you in your next endeavor. 

HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE MULTIPLE PROJECTS AND ASSIGNMENTS?
When CEOs ask this question, they are looking to see if you have a strategy in place for when you need to organize multiple projects in order to meet specific deadlines. To prepare for this question, begin by thinking about how you identify which tasks need immediate attention. Demonstrate your strategic thinking abilities and describe your planning and organization techniques. Discuss how you deal with interruptions, stress and roadblocks. Time management is a necessary skill.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
It's essential to come prepared with questions. When you are prepared with thoughtful questions, the interviewer will see that you were engaged during the interview. Most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to make sure the job is right for you. Your potential questions may change depending on the content covered in the interview.

For example, you can reflect back to earlier moments from the interview by asking for further details about a previous topic of discussion. Similarly, if you did not thoroughly discuss the responsibilities of the role, you may ask for additional information. Furthermore, you can inquire about the company culture or management style. Failure to ask questions may be interpreted as disinterest or lack of preparation.

After researching the company, it is important to review and prepare for the interview. Showing that you have taken the time to learn about the business is always a good way to impress CEOs. During an interview, the last thing you want is to start panicking while trying to come up with an answer to a question for which you could have prepared. After reviewing these nine interview questions and preparing accordingly, your confidence will skyrocket, and the job will be yours.

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