Job #1: Research!
Remember the old scouting motto that emphasizes being prepared? There is no place that this advice is more pertinent than in the executive interview process.
Certainly you will need to prepare and rehearse answers to the most often asked questions (What are your strong points? What are your weak points? Why are you looking for a new position? …..etc.). And it goes without saying that you must “dress for success,” presenting the image and decorum that bespeak confidence and success. But before that Armani suit or the answers to these questions can do you much good, you will need to have done some serious homework on the company with whom you are interviewing.
We are not talking about a cursory look here. You will want to research the company thoroughly—in your library, on the Web, through phone calls and networking. Obtain a copy of the company’s annual report, if available. What are the company’s products and/or services? Annual revenues? Target market? Philosophy, organizational culture, strategic plans, short- and long-term objectives?
Once you have learned absolutely everything you can about the company, you will need to analyze this information to determine how your unique combination of skills and experience may be of particular benefit to them. If you arrive for your interview armed with specific knowledge of what the employer’s requirements are and exactly how you fill the bill, the battle will be half won before you shake hands!
There are numerous excellent books on interviewing which will help you prepare answers to the toughest questions an Inquisition-style interview panel can muster. My favorite is Wendy Enelow’s Winning Interviews for $100,000+ Jobs, Impact Publications. It will prepare you well for various types of interviews (such as informational/networking, telephone or electronic screening interviews, and one-on-one, serial, and panel hiring interviews).