The recent news report of 61,000 new Canadian jobs created in September is rather encouraging, particularly since most offered full-time employment. Additionally, business leaders are also starting to experience more of the baby boomer drift into retirement. As a result, many senior level positions are becoming vacant which provides new opportunities for potential candidates.
Of course, as with most opportunities, there is a catch! In this instance, the catch relates to the fact that most senior level managers and executives have little experience marketing their skills and/or being on the candidate side of the interview table. In other words, these senior leaders are simply not as well-prepared for that all important candidate interview. In fact, many senior level leaders take themselves for granted and do not do a good job of identifying or confirming the very skills they do have.
Whether or not you are “headhunted” for an upcoming opportunity or you are seeking a new role on your own, you need to adopt several key candidate preparation strategies in order to ensure your success. After years of experience as a search professional, I can offer the following advice:
Document your history – reflect on your career progression and identify industries, roles and accomplishments. Next, stand back and review your career path and determine what experiences you may be seeking with the next job. Typically, people feel an underlying sense of discomfort and restlessness when they get to the stage of looking for a new opportunity. Identify what this discomfort is and “name” it.
Research industry sectors – most senior level skillsets are transferable to other industry sectors. Determine which sectors you have an affinity for and would be comfortable in. Identify several companies within each sector and conduct further research in order to develop some priorities.
Compile data on selected firms – search the internet, business information news as well as your own personal network. Find out more about a potential employer’s business cycle, sales and market strategies as well as their strength of leadership. Identify the rationale for their change and determine if there might be a fit for you. Continue to pursue your information gathering on and offline.
Consolidate your skills – each senior level manager/executive has a number of key skills, so it can be difficult to describe these in a brief interview. Consolidate your skills into three to four themes and subsets of skills. Create a statement or “elevator speech” that you can use for introductions and those “tell us about yourself” type questions.
Prepare for behavioural interview questions – most interviewers are now asking for very specific examples of how you carried out your work. Be sure to identify issues and challenges, your role, what you did to overcome these challenges and the results. Create at least three examples for every skill so that you always appear “polished” and ready with an indepth response.
Understand and define your personal character – good interviewers today are going beyond examining intellectual and emotional intelligence and are now focusing on identifying personal character. Character is defined as the attitudes, beliefs and commitments that impact how you carry out your personal and professional life. For instance, what are your personal values and how do you apply these to work? Are you the same person inside and out?
Define success – there are many definitions of success such as fame, prosperity, power, control, prestige and/or title and recognition. What is your definition of success and what role does this play in your personal and professional goals? How does your definition of success motivate you and what is the relationship to your potential new job. Be sure to prepare yourself to address this issue in the interview.
As a senior leader, you’ve been involved in many, many interviews from the employer side of the table. However, when it’s your turn to shine as a candidate and put the “shoe on the other foot”, you’ll find the experience to be quite demanding. As a senior executive search professional, my expectations are high, so be prepared.
Paul Croteau can be reached at [email protected].
About Legacy Bowes Group:
Local expertise, global reach and a comprehensive, full range of recruitment, retention and HR strategy services – these are among the reasons Legacy Bowes Group has gained its first-class reputation among employers ranging from small owner-operated enterprises to major corporations, in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba.