40 Executive Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're applying for an executive position, it's important to prepare for an interview. Review a few interview questions related to leadership and prepare a few sample responses. By taking the time to prepare your answers, you can present yourself as a desirable candidate for a senior management position. In this article, we discuss what executive interview questions are and provide you with several example questions and sample answers.

What are executive interview questions?

Executive interview questions are the questions an employer uses to determine your qualifications for an executive position. These interview questions can help you highlight your leadership, communication and management skills. This way, hiring managers can determine your conflict resolution strategies and whether you can add value to their team.

Related: Top 20 Manager Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

General interview questions

When interviewing for an executive position, hiring managers may ask you some general questions to get a sense of who you are as a person. Here are some general interview questions hiring managers might ask you:

  1. What's your greatest professional achievement?

  2. Why are you interested in leading the organisation?

  3. What makes you a good fit for this role?

  4. What do you think the organisation is doing well? What would you change?

  5. What parts of this role will be the biggest challenges for you?

  6. What do you think is the most difficult part of working in an executive position?

  7. Describe your management style.

  8. If you got this job, what would be your priorities within the first six months?

  9. How would you boost staff morale?

  10. Tell me about a time you handled challenging staffing issues. How did you resolve it?

Questions about your experience and background

These interview questions give you an opportunity to discuss your professional experience:

  1. In the past, how did you assess an employee's work performance? Do you think this is still a good way to assess work performance?

  2. Have you ever had to fire an employee? How did you handle it?

  3. What leaders do you look up to?

  4. Was there a time when you had to confront an employee who was producing poor results? What did you do?

  5. How do you prefer to communicate?

  6. What's your experience in reviewing and analysing financial reports?

  7. How would you handle low sales after a merger?

  8. Has there ever been a time you had to address difficult financial issues? What did you do?

  9. What would you do if an employee came to you with a complaint?

  10. Discuss a time you experienced resistance to one of your projects or ideas. How did you handle it?

  11. Discuss a time when you disagreed with other company executives. What did you do?

  12. What's one professional mistake you've made that you would like to fix if you could go back in time?

In-depth interview questions

As you move through the job interview, the hiring manager may ask you more in-depth questions, including:

  1. Describe your approach to solving problems and making decisions. Why do you do it this way?

  2. When do you find it necessary to involve others when making a decision? Why?

  3. How much leeway do you provide to an employee to make a decision? How do you manage to maintain control?

  4. When you suggest something to other executives, what approach do you often use?

  5. How do you gather and analyse relevant information to make a decision? How do you know you have enough information?

  6. Share an effective method you have used to implement rules and regulations.

  7. What areas are in your sphere of responsibility in your current role? How do you make sure that you know what's happening?

  8. How do you make sure that employees are accountable?

  9. Do you think the chain of command is important? When do you think it may inhibit organisational effectiveness?

  10. What operating systems do you use to track your team's progress?

  11. What do you usually do when there's an issue in your area? Explain?

  12. How useful have you found written guidelines and procedures in helping you manage your area?

Related: 4 Situational Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

6 interview questions with sample answers

Here are some interview questions a hiring manager may ask with sample answers:

1. How would you describe our company?

Hiring managers ask this interview question to determine whether you have done any research on the company. This way, they can establish whether you're truly interested in the opportunity. To answer this interview question effectively, discuss the positive aspects of the company that attract you to the role.

Example: "I would describe your company as a successful, multi-million-dollar operation rooted in family-run values that contribute to treating every customer like family."

2. Why do you want to be a leader in our company?

Your answer to this question can help the hiring manager understand whether your professional values align with the values necessary to lead the company. This question also allows them to familiarise themselves with your leadership approach. In your response, convey that you're ready for this level of responsibility and display confidence in your own ability to be an effective leader. To answer this interview question effectively, you may share one thing you admire about the company.

Example: "I want to be a leader at this company because I admire its eco-friendly mission and want to continue to contribute to its coastal clean-up programmes."

Related: Interview Question: "Why Are You Interested in This Position?"

3. What is your management style?

A hiring manager asks this question to learn more about how you view yourself as a leader and how you plan to manage employees. They want to get an idea of how you lead your team to see if it fits the current needs of the company. To answer this interview question effectively, describe your management style using a relevant example from your prior workplace.

Example: "I would describe my management style as democratic. I see the company's employees as my team and I treat them as such. My democratic style of management involves working closely with team members to develop effective strategies and make decisions together. I constantly work to make sure employees feel heard. This can help them feel encouraged and motivated to deliver exceptional results."

Related: 10 Management Styles to Lead Effectively: Overview and Examples

4. Can you describe your last supervisor? What traits of theirs did you admire?

This question can help the hiring manager determine what characteristics you admire from your past employers and what leadership traits you uphold. Keep your answer to this question positive and respectful. If you liked all your previous supervisors, talk about what you learned from observing them. Always maintain professionalism when speaking about your previous employer.

Example: "My last supervisor always made a point to ask how their employees were doing. They helped make each employee feel valued and understood. For example, when I got sick, they allowed me to work from home and checked in with me to ask how I was feeling."

5. Did you ever have a negative experience with a supervisor? What caused it?

When an interviewer asks this question, they want to hear what you learned from challenging experiences and how you resolved conflicts professionally. Be careful how you respond to this question. Try to speak positively about your previous employer. If possible, discuss the strengths your previous supervisors had and how they helped you succeed.

Example: "I once had a supervisor who would leave the office randomly and take days off at the last minute, leaving my team with heavy a workload and no means of communicating with upper management. We soon found out it was due to a personal family issue. This experience taught me that communication is crucial when you're in a leadership role."

6. What would you want to accomplish within your first six months of employment?

Hiring managers ask this question to see how your plans align with the company's while also seeing what you already know about the company's procedures. They also want to determine if you can be self-sufficient during the training period. To answer this question effectively, consider focusing on specific things you can do to contribute to the organisation right away.

Example: "The first thing I want to do is implement a functional communication channel to help connect departments and branch locations. I also want to establish an electronic file system to reduce paper waste and limit the amount of time spent searching for paper copies. Then, I want to turn my focus towards customer relations to review the current customer service procedures, gathering input from employees and customers alike before implementing an updated system to increase customer satisfaction."

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