Research Outline

Senior leadership questions


To have a framework of topics as well as interview questions for senior leaders.

Early Findings

Interview question frameworks

  • Our initial research found no frameworks that were specifically designed for senior roles, but we did find that interview question sets are created depending on the traits the hiring team most wants to emphasize: behavioural (how one handles situations in a work place), case questions (specific scenarios and brain teasers), competency questions (where interviewees given examples when they demonstrated a certain skill), situational (problem-solving and handling difficult issues and circumstances at work), communication (questions about what one would say in a given situation, what one would expect from a superior etc), interpersonal (questions that determine if a person gets along with their team), and leadership (leadership style and accomplishments).
  • Further question types that may be relevant to senior members include management questions, questions about company culture, questions about strengths and weaknesses, questions about motivation, teamwork, and time management.
  • Some company culture questions, for example, include What would be the ideal company culture for you? Do you prefer to work independently or on a team? Who was your best boss and who was the worst? How do you evaluate success?
  • For exectives and managers, questions may be divided into three key categories: operational and situational, role-specific, and behavioural. Examples of these would include; What sources would you look at to discover consumer trends? (operational), What’s different between us and our competitors? (role), and Have you ever had to sacrifice customer needs to achieve a business objective? (behavioural).
  • Executive Connexions identifies 6 types of interview questions for execs. These are; Classic (eg Where do you see yourself in five years?), Brainteaser (eg How many gas stations are there in the United Kingdom?), Decision Making (eg Have you ever broken a rule? What was the rule, and why?), Situational (eg How would you address tension between you and your employees?), Personality (eg Who is your hero?) and Research (eg What’s the biggest challenge facing our company today?).
  • Another interesting type of questions are nonsense questions. Here the goal is to go beyond the "pre-programmed" questions to see how creative candidates are, and how they are able to think on their feet. For example, What kind of animal would you like to be?

Interview questions for seniors and management

  • Some interesting, difficult, and out-of-the-box questions for execs include; What's the one question you were hoping I wouldn't ask today? What's the first thing you'd do if your position here was confirmed? How do you asses the quality of your work?
  • Other questions specifically for seniors include; When do you know you have delivered something outstanding? What traits does a good manager need to succeed? What will your employees learn from you? Can you successfully deal with underperforming employees?
  • More questions for executive level candidates include; What makes you effective? What types of decisions are the most difficult for you to make? Why? How do you keep your team focused? In which areas would you like to further develop yourself? These questions are framed based on what the interviewer wants to learn about the candidate. For example, What makes you effective? tells them about the candidate's work style and whether it complements their company’s culture.
  • Questions specific to an exec position include; Have you ever been over budget? Why? How did you handle this? What is the toughest feedback someone has ever given you? What did you learn from it? What is your experience building high-performance teams? Based on your past experiences, explain how you could make an impact on our business model and approach?