9 Questions for Management and Executive Applicants

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If you're going for a management position, you may be asked a few questions not asked of non-management folks. Questions about:

  • Budget
  • Company policy
  • Management style
  • Conflict management
  • Consensus building
  • Team development
  • Organizational systems
  • Supervisory skills
  • P&L responsibility
  • Goal achievement
  • Public relations
  • Investor relations


Here are some questions you might find yourself answering in your executive interview.

  1. Tell me about a time when you developed or re-organized a procedure successfully.
    Here’s your chance to look good by talking about one of your favorite achievements. While telling your story, keep in mind what tasks you might be asked to perform at the job you’re applying for and highlight anything in your story that relates to your next job.
  2. When did you initiate a policy or project, and how did your idea affect the organization?
    Employers love to hear how you affected the bottom line, since it implies that you’ll be able to do the same for them. Tell a story that demonstrates that you understand how success is measured in your line of work, and that you’re able to achieve it to the satisfaction of your employer.
  3. Could you describe a challenging problem you solved and what the long-term result of your solution was?
    Most of us hate to admit that we have problems, but the truth is that we do. It’s how we handle problems that shows our real talent. So dig deep and come up with a time when you either took on a problem and solved it, or you were in the middle of a project and a problem came up unexpectedly.
  4. What was the toughest budget issue you ever faced? Could you tell me about it?
    Budget management is a big deal to employers. Before you decide how to answer this question, decide how involved you want to be with the budget on your next job. If you want to manage a budget, talk about a time when you did a terrific job with the money. If you hate dealing with budgets, tell about a time when you worked with someone else on the budget.
  5. Tell me about a creative approach you used to increase profits.
    There are two ways to increase profits: decrease spending and increase revenue. This question is designed to find out if you’re going to bring new profit-making ideas to the company, especially ones that work. So tell about a time when you either cut costs or drove up revenues.
  6. Give me an example of how you built consensus within your team.
    An effective manager gains buy-in from his staff so that everyone experiences success, both individually and as a group. To respond to this question, you could speak about one of your experiences in morale building, creating incentive programs, or using your fine management style to increase cooperation among your staff.
  7. When did you have to resolve conflict among your subordinates?
    Conflict resolution is a valuable skill. With downsizing, mergers, and problems in corporate management, this could be your winning ticket. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes to know what interpersonal issues are current stumbling blocks at the company. Then come up with an experience of your own that parallels the company’s.
  8. When have you had to represent the company or your department before a group of people?
    Here’s your chance to show where your presentation skills lie. If you love speaking before groups, great—tell about some winning presentations you’ve done. If you’re not really comfortable in front of large groups (not all of us are), refer to a time when you delivered a message to either a small group or to an individual, and don't forget to emphasize the positive result of your presentation.
  9. When did you have to sell an idea within your company and how did it work out?
    The employer wants to know how much courage and persuasion you have. Think of a time when you persuaded someone or a group to follow your lead to a successful end. Your experience might have been around a serious business matter, or maybe even a personal interaction that turned into a humorous tale.
  10. Salary Negotiation Skills
    Interview/Job Search Coach

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