Crack The Code: 4 Key Tips For Big Boss Interviews | Vietcetera
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May 13, 2024

Crack The Code: 4 Key Tips For Big Boss Interviews

The best way to impress a big boss is to avoid answering like just another applicant.
Crack The Code: 4 Key Tips For Big Boss Interviews

Source: Nhi Thanh @obanhmis for Vietcetera

At 24 years old, I sat across from the General Director of a company with over 1,000 employees. It was nerve-wracking. Why? I was being interviewed for a Manager role, leading a small Marketing solutions team of just 4 people.

This situation might seem unusual, but it’s more common than you’d think. Meeting directors or C-level executives becomes routine, especially when competing for leadership roles in vital company departments.

Based on personal experience and insights from others, the key to success lies in mindset: ‘Don’t just act like a candidate; engage as a potential collaborator.’

Here are four strategies to help you adopt this mindset and stand out:

Recognize what the boss wants

The interview rounds with senior leaders will usually occur in the final stages. By this point, you might wonder, what else the general manager could want to know about you. The truth is, when selecting a candidate for a pivotal role, senior personnel want to be certain that investing in you will yield worthwhile returns.

After assessing professional competencies and essential skills in earlier rounds, the focus for C-level executives in the final interview is on the candidate’s desire to contribute and their potential for long-term commitment to the company. Therefore, they anticipate candidates to demonstrate:

  1. A thorough grasp of the company’s operations and how you and your team/department fit into the larger picture.
  2. Alignment between your personal development goals/orientation and the company’s overarching values/orientation.

Plan like you’ve got the job

Dedication is best demonstrated through practical ideas that help businesses grow. Senior personnel, who spearhead development strategies, will be highly impressed by candidates capable of supporting them in their work.

To propose a quality plan or idea, you need to invest time in several key steps:

  • Understand your role by thoroughly reviewing the job description and available information. Identify potential challenges and brainstorm solutions.
  • During previous interview rounds, inquire about potential projects you could undertake in the role. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the company’s focus on media channels and development strategies.
  • Conduct market research to gain a comprehensive understanding of all relevant parties: the company’s products and services, competitors’ activities, and the evolving trends in consumer psychology within the industry.
  • Reflect on areas where you can make improvements within your own position at the company. Then, during the interview, present a strategic-level plan for implementation.
Source: Nhi Thanh @obanhmis for Vietcetera

Ms. Trang Ngo, a 27-year-old communications manager at a Japanese corporation, spent over 3 days thoroughly understanding the product lines distributed by the business in Vietnam.

She compiled a comprehensive summary of the company’s communication initiatives, conducted comparative analyses with competitors and market trends, and presented potential solutions during her interview with the CEO. Additionally, she shared successful case studies from other Japanese brands that had applied similar strategies, providing valuable insights for consideration.

"I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the company had already considered some of the orientations I proposed," Ms. Trang shared. "I believe my dedication to this opportunity played a significant role in their decision to choose me, despite my experience potentially not being as extensive as other candidates."

Show you share the company’s core values

According to HBR, a company’s core values are fundamental principles that govern all activities and represent unchangeable cultural elements. Hence, a candidate may be exceptionally talented, but if they don’t align with the company’s culture, they won’t be seen as a viable long-term partner.

Just a month ago, I had a discussion with the CEO of a company operating in the South American market. Surprisingly, I received an offer merely 30 minutes later. To get that result, I spent ⅓ of my preparation time memorizing the company’s core values and understanding its operations based on those values.

During the interview, I integrated my insights directly into the self-introduction, following this structure:

  • Briefly outlined my career path and highlighted the values I’ve distilled from my experiences.
  • Affirmed my desire to join the company, emphasizing the alignment between the company’s core values and my own. Give an example of a company activity that resonated with these shared values.
  • Discussed my future personal goals and ensured that the company’s strategy aligned with those aims. Then, implicitly express my commitment to long-term contribution and mutual development.

Make it a two-way conversation

To transform the interview into a two-way communication, you need to know clearly which senior personnel will be present and their respective roles within the company. This knowledge enables you to pose relevant questions and encourage them to share insights and perspectives.

Source: Nhi Thanh @obanhmis for Vietcetera

For instance, when interviewing with a CEO, you should ask about the company’s future objectives and the roadmap to achieve them. With the CHRO, you can discuss talent development strategies and distinctive aspects of the company culture that you find interesting.

After receiving the employer’s response, you should provide a brief acknowledgment of the information shared, followed by a few insightful comments demonstrating your viewpoint.

You can actively prepare responses to your questions before the interview. This gives you more time to reflect and gather important information while avoiding potential interruptions throughout the talk.

Interviewing with senior personnel can be challenging, but it’s not overly stressful. I view these conversations as opportunities to listen to insights from experienced leaders, which may not be readily accessible otherwise.

A CEO once shared with me that "A kind leader highly values talent." So, enter the interview with a calm demeanor, thorough preparation, and confidence in sharing ideas. Strive for a constructive conversation where both parties can make valuable contributions.