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6 Interview Questions to Ask C-Suite Executives When Hiring

Conducting a meaningful job interview is difficult enough for entry-level positions. As you move up the corporate ladder, the hiring decisions get increasingly pivotal – to the point where the future of the company might hinge on the selection.

This puts a lot of weight on the interview questions you ask when hiring C-Suite executives.

C-Suite positions represent the pinnacle of the corporate world. Every ambitious executive yearns to nab one of these coveted spots. Yet, few actually have the right skill set to succeed in the roles.

The numbers bear out this general premise. A Korn Ferry survey indicated that nearly nine out of 10 executives (87%) sought to join the C-Suite. However, the same statistics showed that fewer than one in six (15%) actually have the right skills.

What do these stats mean for your interview questions? Well, you want to create a detailed interview process that will help you separate the pretenders from the true achievers.

Of course, the formal interview will only represent part of your hiring process. But you still want to get the most value you can out of it. To do that, here are six interview questions to ask C-Suite executives when hiring:

Six of The Best Interview Questions to ask C-Suite Executives

How would you describe your leadership style?

Any C-Suite position is fundamentally about leadership. The best executives maximize the talent working under them. Any review of a potential top employee should start with an assessment of their leadership qualities.

What better way to get a sense of this than asking them directly? Your goal here is to spark a conversation. With the question, you mark leadership as a core trait and get to hear your candidate’s thoughts on the subject.

How do you get the most out of your team?

Drill down on the leadership question. Candidates will be tempted to give philosophical responses. You want to know more about the nitty-gritty, everyday policies they plan to enact.

That’s what this question brings. Encourage them to share details and to itemize past experiences. Learn the concrete actions they would use to inspire their teams.

What steps would you take to further our company’s culture?

Culture is a key aspect of any company’s operations. One study showed that 92% of executives thought that a strong culture improved a company’s value, while more than half attributed a direct link with attributes like profitability, productivity, and growth.

Another study underlined the financial advantages of a healthy culture. The data, compiled by Gallup, indicated that the talent boost that comes with an attractive cultural structure can lead to 33% higher revenue.

How do you develop this kind of winning culture? Well, values and attitudes largely get determined from the top. You want your incoming leader to contribute to culture. This question lets you know how they plan to do that.

What do you think is missing at our company right now?

Get specifics about what your C-Suite aspirant wants to do at your company. You’ll want them to make bold plans and improve your operations over time. This question will give you an early glimpse into that thought process.

It could have a benefit even with the candidates you don’t ultimately choose. Think of it like taking a survey of top-level executive candidates. If you hear the same issue over and over, you’ll know what to target once your new leadership is in place.

What traits do you admire in a leader?

Ask your C-Suite hopeful about their own traits and you’re likely to get a practiced response. You’ll gain some information, but it will be hard to peek behind the curtain. You also want to pose a question that will unlock some insight into your candidate’s personality.

This question works because it comes at the issue from an unexpected angle. Your candidate is likely to relax and give a less-practiced response.

By hearing what they admire in other leaders, you can learn what they strive to become. This will let you know more about what kind of manager they will be. You’ll also get a hint at what they hope to become over time, offering you some visibility about their preferred path of development.

Describe a time when one of your decisions failed. How did you respond?

Not everything will always go as planned. You can hire a leader with the best ideas and a unique ability to execute a strategy. But that won’t guarantee success.

Markets can change. Unexpected events can get in the way – you don’t have to go any further back than 2020 to see that. Given these realities, you better get a sense of how your C-Suite candidate will respond to setbacks.

Need Help Hiring Top Executives? Elby Professional Recruitment Can Help!

Want to find the best candidates for your C-Suite? Turn to a top recruiter. Elby Professional Services will find the talent you need to drive your company’s growth for years to come.

Contact Elby today to learn more.