Laura Lloyd headshot Written by: Laura Lloyd

3 Executive Interview Mistakes

Interviewing, for many leaders, is not a consistent activity. Sometimes you’ll do 10 interviews in one month and then you won’t interview again for 3-4 months. You can get out of practice quickly. Because of this, we see many leaders jump into interviews without proper planning. Even a quick 15-minute refresher is worth it before interviewing, especially with an executive. 

As a top Atlanta executive search firm, we get the luxury of hearing from both candidates and hiring managers in our searches. There’s often a disconnect in how the interview went, and many times this comes from hiring managers not being prepared at the level they need to be prepared for to recruit this executive to their company. So many leaders jump into an interview with the same questions, and it is obvious they have not prepared.

Man smiling while across the table from someone during an executive interview

Here are a few common executive interview mistakes we’ve seen leaders make (and what you should ask instead):

  1. “So, tell me about yourself!” 

Try, “To the degree you would like to share, I’d like to hear about your growing-up years: family, activities in high school, early academic/ leadership achievements, and passion at an early age.” Note: Be prepared to share the same about you (as the hiring manager). 

  1. Asking the candidate for their work history, starting with the first job to the most recent – “For each job you’ve held, please describe with lots of detail.”

Try, “Tell me about your career journey and why you made the decision(s) to leave previous roles and accept new ones.”

  1. “Describe your leadership style.”

Try, “We all have that one special leader and mentor we respected in our careers. What specifically did you like about that person’s management style?”

Our latest Handler Report breaks down 5 more common interview mistakes you might be making. View the full Handler Report here. 

Preparation before any interview is key. You have to be in the right mindset. Candidates will know if you aren’t. Be prepared and know how to ask the right questions for the right positions. Don’t jump to the general “tell me about yourself” questions.