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The Secret (to a successful executive interview) (WSJ)

Korn Ferry International logo Tierney Remick, a senior client partner and global managing director of Korn/Ferry International’s global consumer market and guest contributor to the Wall Street Journal, wrote a valuable piece on executive interviewing for the paper’s May 15, 2009 Careers column. (How to Master the Art of Executive Interviewing – free content)

The main takeaway from the article is that “even the most experienced professionals often under-perform by overemphasizing their career progression and chronology or projecting only what they know, rather than focusing on the impact that their leadership has had on the organizations they’ve worked for and the lessons they’ve learned over time.”

The Wall Street Journal article is shorter version of an 8 page document that you can download directly from the Korn/Ferry website. At a time with high unemployment and executive layoffs being commonplace, Remick’s advice can be very valuable and might even help set you apart from your competition. From the WSJ article:

At this level, the most commonly used interview technique is known as behavioral competency. This type of interview focuses not only on your self-awareness but also on what is known as your learning agility — the ability to apply what you’ve learned through past adversity to overcome obstacles in the future. Consider the following questions and ask yourself if you could answer them without advanced preparation:

  • Tell me about an initiative that you conceived and were responsible for executing. What challenges did you expect and what challenges did you encounter? How did you overcome them?
  • What constructive criticism have you received in the past that surprised you the most?
  • What would your best friend/children/spouse say they like most about you?

Interviewing is always fraught with stress and in these challenging economic times you really need every advantage that you can get. You must be prepared to answer questions like those above; Remick’s Wall Street Journal article and Korn Ferry’s document is a good place to start.

About the author

Peter A. Mello, Founder/Editor Founder of Weekly Leader and Sea-Fever Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and strategic communications consultancy. Previously, CEO of an international nonprofit organization and COO of a national insurance/risk management services firm. Peter has been leading people and managing organizations for over 30 years, writes a leadership column for MarineNews magazine and blogs about maritime culture at Sea-Fever. Follow him on Twitter.

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