Thought Leadership

Executive Search

Four simple steps to hone your interview skills


by Heather Porter
Senior Associate Practice Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

Interviewing is difficult – especially when you don’t spend much of your time doing it. When people ask you to tell them about yourself and your career, it can be tough to know where to begin, what to share and what’s going to be most relevant to them.

Striking the proper balance between style and substance is key to a successful interview. You’ve accomplished a lot and you might want to share all the details. Conversely, you might not remember all the details … and end up sharing too few.

As an executive search team, we interviewed more than 3,000 candidates in 2017. Here are a few tips from us to help you more effectively describe your background to hiring authorities:

  1. Words tell; numbers sell. The most important message that you want to convey is what you accomplished during each step of your career progression. Hiring authorities want to know whether you did what you were hired to do.

Questions you should answer when discussing each step of your career path:

  • What were you charged with doing?
  • What were your top three responsibilities?
  • How did you specifically accomplish X, Y and Z?
  • To whom did you directly report?
  • Did you have a team? If so, how big? Did you hire the individuals on that team?
  • Why did you decide to join your current or most recent organization?
  1. Nowadays, hardly anything in the workplace is done alone – but this is your chance to brag (responsibly). What did you individually contribute? The team is important, but remember: The organization isn’t hiring a team; it’s hiring you!
  1. When asked a specific question, it’s best to answer first. It can be hard not to provide context, but go ahead and give a direct answer and provide clarity as concisely as possible.
  1. Be succinct. We can’t overstress the importance of this. As you’re walking through your background, make sure you’re giving enough detail to showcase your expertise … but not so much that you don’t have time to talk about everything your interviewer wants to discuss.

The executive interview can be intimidating, but with the right preparation and mind-set, you can excel at one of the more challenging elements of the hiring process.

For more advice or to learn how Charles Aris can add A-level talent to your team, contact Heather Porter at (336) 378-1818 x9145 or email her at


"Thanks, Charles Aris, appreciate your dedication in finding such great talent for us to select from."

— The VP of Strategic Product Management for a Fortune 30 retailer, responding to an email informing him that Charles Aris Inc.'s candidate had just accepted the retailer's job offer.