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Executive Level Interview Questions Part 1

Date Added: July 14, 2010 12:36:05 PM

The following interview questions are all "thought process" questions which don't have a wrong or right answer. Instead, they are intended to gauge the thought process of the job applicant. Interviewing is like formulating a paragraph. First, you have the opening thesis, then the supporting argument, then a brief closing. Whether it's sales, marketing or just about any other job, any interviewee should have intelligent answers and, before talking too much about a particular concept, ought to present their closing statement.

For instance, if we were to use question #2 as an example, the interviewee should have a company which they like and we may not like that particular firm. Then, it's your decision to determine how much you agree or disagree with their logic.

1. Hand the interviewee a balance sheet or income statement and ask the candidate how one could improve the company.

We're going into this question with the assumption that the sales or marketing applicant is not a CPA. This is also a question for an executive level candidate. Though, the ability to read P&L is very important for higher level sales representatives as they need to know how much negotiation they can take before the company is losing money on the deal.

Additionally, this question shows creativity. See what the sales and marketing representative can deduce from your current situation. In the first place, they should be able to tell you are looking for a sales person, though see what they think is the best remedy for revenue which could be higher.

2. What companies does applicant think are great and why? Then ask why the applicant why didn't they apply to them

With this question, the answer only matters about 10% and the supporting thesis encompasses the other 90%. They may like a company which you have never heard of which can be a very positive thing. You want to know what they perceive to be good management and what business models they believe to be most effective. For instance, my answers are quite simplistic and boring. I like Apple and Goldman Sachs. The reason why I picked the aforementioned firms is that I truly admire their "pay to play" attitude. The companies are exclusive. If you want an Apple, then you are going to pay more. If you want a broker at Goldman, you are going to pay more.

To have a business model where you don't accept just anybody into your club is the best business model. My firm does not take any client; we want the clients who are going to create a positive work environment for our sales and marketing representatives.

3. If the applicant were the CEO, what would they do to gain an edge on the competition?

Executive level sales and marketing applicants should think like a CEO as they are not simply "employees." Because a firm's investment is so high when hiring these individuals, it is key that the exec. is on board with what the organization is trying to do and shares the same vision. This is also an excellent way to determine if the interviewee has done his or her homework on the competition.

4. What kind of support from the company does the applicant need to be successful and what would they do if that support went away?

This question is why we stopped working with large organizations. You cannot bring somebody from IBM into a 30 person firm. Real sales people are turned off by your Microsoft's, EMCs, etc. Sales people need to be hunters and they have to adapt with the firm which they are working for. However, sales people do need the support of a very solid, market competitive product or service. Therefore, to an extent, a direct relationship exists between support and success. Though, good sales people roll with the punches. If you see someone go pale when this question is asked, it is probably best to move on.

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