Work Smarter//

How to Improve Your Interview Skills, According to a Career Coach

Executive roles require executive prep. These common mistakes could be holding you back from a fulfilling new role.

InkDrop/ Shutterstock
InkDrop/ Shutterstock

Usually your first taste of an executive role is within a company that knows you. You’ve been promoted from within over several years and never had trouble landing the promotion. Lately, you’ve been thinking about making an external move. 

If you’re already an executive, you’d think it would be easy. But, the people I work with don’t find that. These are the three most common mistakes they’re making.

1. YOU TALK BIG VISION BUT SKIM OVER THE DETAILS.

When you’re in a senior leadership role, you become the “vision person.”

You share the vision with employees at staff meetings, with the board during strategic meetings, and with the press.

Sometimes execs get so great at the vision, they forget to talk about how they get things done.

This is fine when you are in that CEO role, but when you’re trying to land another role, you need to talk about your work in specifics, instead of generalities. Answer questions with the intention of adding details they can imagine.

2.  YOU ASK THE SAME QUESTIONS A NEW GRAD WOULD ASK

I know you’re busy and used to showing up at work and asking smart questions. Sometimes you get prepped in advance, or someone advises you what to ask.

I see executives googling “the best questions to ask at a job interview”, using the first result that comes up and going into the interview with those questions.

DON’T BE THAT PERSON.

Ask questions as if you already have the job. What do you need to know as a VP? Ask strategic questions.

3. YOU DROP NAMES INSTEAD OF FACTS

It’s likely your reputation helped you to land the interview.

But when you are at the interview, spend more time letting them know what you can do, instead of who you know.

Your network is a value-add, but if you use other people’s prestige to bolster yourself up, they don’t know what’s awesome about you.

Share stories to help them see what you can make happen, and if you drop a name in there to help, that’s okay. Your work is more important than who you know.

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