Executives have busy schedules that often revolve around meetings and interviews. They interview potential new hires, discuss daily affairs with senior leadership, and meet with potential clients, vendors, or investors. Each meeting or interview has a purpose; failing to understand that purpose and plan for it results in a useless waste of time.
To make the interview and meeting process more efficient, executives should adopt a strategy they adhere to before each meeting. Proper planning yields more effective results. Rather than simply being an attendee to the discussion, executives should have a plan they follow to extract the information they’re seeking.
Consider these vital elements to ensure your interviews are constructive and worthwhile.
A meeting that doesn’t include planning and preparation will likely have a poor outcome. Before attending any interview, an executive should fully understand the purpose of it and what their objective is.
In the hiring process, interviewing helps executives learn about potential candidates and their capabilities. However, rather than launching into generic interview questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” executives should identify the critical questions they need answers to in order to make a hiring decision.
To adequately prepare, executives should review the applicant’s resume and have a short discussion with any other employees who previously interviewed the candidate. The executive should also understand the objective of filling the role.
For instance, an executive hiring for a new CMO could ask questions that delve deeper into the goals of the role. They could describe the marketing department’s challenges and ask how the CMO plans to address them. Getting specific rather than using broad strokes makes the best use of the executive’s and the applicant’s time.
Creating an outline of the questions the executive wants to address can help build the discussion. Executives can provide some questions to the interviewee in advance so they also have a chance to reflect on the inquiries before the meeting.
Building rapport is key to compelling interviews. Without basic rapport, the applicant can feel too nervous to answer the questions truthfully. However, too much time spent on banter takes away from the executive’s schedule. Adopt a few skills that can put the interviewee at ease quickly.
One of the most basic ways to build rapport is by being friendly. Friendly people encourage a welcoming atmosphere, making an interviewee feel more comfortable. Offering coffee or water before the interview can be helpful if it’s in person.
Executives should pay careful attention to everything that the interviewee says. Using vocal inflections to encourage the person to keep talking is helpful. Once they’ve finished speaking, the executive can provide a summary of the discussion to ensure they didn’t miss anything.
The best interviewers start with several general questions. The interviewer gives the interviewee a lot of leeway in their responses and not much direction. Usually, the interviewee will respond with critical points they feel most relevant to the discussion, allowing them to expand on items they think to be of utmost concern.
Once the interviewer understands the interviewee’s thoughts better, they can narrow their questions to explore the subject further.
For some reason, there’s a fear of silence that permeates discussions. People are sometimes wary of conversations with too much silence; they fear they’re not interesting enough or don’t have pertinent information relevant to the meeting.
Executives can minimize their fear of silence by allowing the discussion to develop naturally. Don’t try to rush questions just to keep the interview from drifting into silence. Instead, take the time to think about the interviewee’s answers and formulate new questions.
It’s a natural tendency of many executives to fill the air with their own thoughts. Leaders often obtain their position by giving direction; they’re used to explaining to people what they should do and how to do it. Like all people, they have biases, which can sometimes impede the interview process.
Executives must learn the art of listening. Proper listening involves stopping your thought processes to hear the responses of others. It’s not easy to do; often, the interviewer’s thinking tends to override what the other person is saying and they project their thoughts onto the interviewee.
Make an active attempt to genuinely listen to the responses you hear. If the answer is unclear, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, ask the interviewee to clarify their statement further.
Sometimes, most of an interview or a meeting results in information that both parties can use to further their objectives. However, executives should not overlook the importance of a solid conclusion to the discussion.
Rather than seeing the conclusion as an opportunity to exchange more details or ask further questions, summarize everything you’ve discussed. Make sure that everyone is on the same page.
If the meeting involves a candidate for an open position, you can briefly summarize what you’ve learned from the applicant and the next steps in the hiring process. Give them a specific timeline on when they can expect to hear back from you.
Meetings that concern customers, vendors, or other employees should summarize the objectives of the meeting. Tell your customers and vendors what they can expect from you. Ask employees to take specific actions on their goals and set a deadline for the response.
If individuals know what the executive expects of them, they’re better prepared to take action. Leaving too many loose ends following a meeting can defeat the objectives, and you may find yourself having a similar discussion with the same people in the coming weeks.
With the right tools in place, you can have compelling interviews and meetings that aren’t a drain on your time. Make sure to do the proper preparation. Determine your objectives and goals, and engage in active listening.
Following any meeting, make sure the participants understand the next steps. These tips result in better decisions and a more transparent comprehension of mutual objectives.
At Cowen Partners, our HR executive recruiters are exceptionally skilled at delivering in-demand candidates, no matter the need and across all industries. Backed by a proven executive recruiting process, we have been the partner of choice for startups, corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and more, meeting unique and critical recruitment needs across the entire C-suite, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, CIOs, CTOs, CHROs, VPs of sales, other VPs, directors, and several other leadership roles.
That’s how Cowen Partners has become a leading executive search firm nationwide, and it’s why our executive recruiters have a reputation for excellence and success.
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