How to Prepare for an Interview with the CEO: A Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 November 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.

When completing the final stages of a job interview, you may want to know how to prepare for an interview with the CEO. These interviews require significant reflection and transparency. By knowing how to prepare for these interviews, you can increase your chances of being hired. In this article, we discuss how to prepare for a job interview with the CEO, discuss why you may interview with these professionals, and provide you with several interview questions to ask the CEO.

Related: What Is a Chief Executive Officer? Plus How to Become One

How to prepare for an interview with the CEO

An interview with the CEO can be incredibly beneficial to your career as they work with the executive team and typically lead the company by managing its primary operations. These professionals often collaborate with the board of directors to navigate the management of the company. They also help smaller departments with departmental decisions. When working with larger companies, CEOs typically navigate strategies for the company and apply hands-off leadership strategies.

The amount of interaction between the CEO and team members can depend on the size of the company, along with the workload of the CEO. Here's a guide to help you prepare for your interview:

1. Conduct research on the CEO and the company

When you prepare for your interview, conduct research to develop basic knowledge of both the CEO and the company for which you interview. This can show the CEO that you're committed to the role and the company. Your research can also demonstrate your diligence towards achieving your goals. To conduct research, browse the company's website, read some of their featured blogs and search for the company in search engines. If the company recently released press conferences, you can also research these.

When doing research, consider writing notes to use as points of discussion for your interview, as this can show diligence and initiative. If you want to determine the overall tone of the interview, consider researching the CEO to obtain more information about their personality. You can type their name into search engines and research their social media pages.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

2. Consider questions to ask the CEO

During the interview, consider asking the CEO questions to get a better understanding of them as supervisors and members of upper management. This helps you learn more about the company culture. To develop more effective questions, consider researching sample interview questions to ask CEOs. You can also develop questions from the information you previously researched about the company.

Related: How to Respond in an Interview to "Do You Have Any Questions?"

3. Practise your communication skills

When you arrive at the interview, expect to use your communication skills with various people. This may involve communicating with other staff in the office while you wait for your interviewer. This helps the hiring manager and CEO determine whether you have strong communication skills as many CEOs prioritise collaboration. They want to know that your personality fits with the existing team and that you're a strong candidate for their organisation.

The CEO also learns more about your role outside the company and determines whether your personality fits within the organisation. You can practise your communications skills by actively communicating more within your personal and professional networks.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

4. Rest before the interview

When you interview with the CEO, being attentive, communicative and focused can help show your professionalism. This requires you to obtain adequate rest to remain alert and to maintain good health before your interview. Consider obtaining an adequate amount of sleep before your interview to increase your energy levels. Consider preparing everything you need, such as your clothing, the night before your interview, to save time in the morning.

You may also want to wake up early to allow time for relaxation and final preparation for your interview. You can practise your primary points of discussion in front of a mirror or to someone close to you.

5. Think about why you're excited about the company

Before your interview, consider why you're excited about the company and how the CEO contributes to that excitement. This requires existing knowledge of the company, along with knowledge of the CEO. When interviewing, CEOs typically appreciate candidates who demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the company and themself.

Why you may interview with the CEO

When your role involves regularly collaborating with the CEO, the company may ask you to speak with them at least once during the interview process. CEOs may speak with candidates to gain an understanding of who they are and what value they may bring to the company. In addition to learning more about you, CEOs may also prefer to interview you to educate you on the company and what they may expect from your role.

Interviewing with the CEO is often one of the final stages of a recruiting process. If you're speaking with the CEO, it's likely you've already passed the first few interview phases with the HR manager, your direct supervisor or other members of your potential team.

Interview questions with the CEO

The CEO might ask you interview questions to learn more about your experience, the goals you set for yourself and how well you may fit with the company. Here are a few questions they may ask:

Tell me about yourself

With this question, the CEO may look for specific qualities. They may want to learn your job experience, what you accomplished in previous roles, how well you collaborated with the teams you worked with and what you gained from each experience. CEOs search for candidates who display dedication to their work.

They may also want to learn if you plan to apply that same dedication to their company. When answering this request, try to explain your accomplishments in previous roles, what you did to achieve them and why you're proud of these achievements.

What are you most passionate about?

A CEO searches for employees who hold great passion for what they do and the company they serve. Often, passion for the role and the company occur if the employee is also passionate about other aspects of their life. When answering this question, you can speak about the activities you enjoy and are passionate about. You can then relate this to how you apply that passion to your career. For example, if you're interviewing for a sales role, you can express your love for working with people and providing value to their lives.

How do you challenge yourself?

CEOs look for candidates who can challenge themselves. There may be changes and growth happening within a company, so a CEO may want to know if you're prepared to tackle any challenges that come with growth. When answering this question, you can inform your CEO of ways you challenge yourself to learn more. You can do this by enhancing your knowledge of current events or even the industry itself. You can tell them how you may set individual goals for yourself. These goals can include the following:

  • Reading industry articles every day

  • Completing projects ahead of their deadlines

  • Connecting with other professionals

Is there anything about our vision or mission statement that sticks out to you?

Many CEOs search for team members who can commit to the company and enjoy their work. This may be easier to accomplish if the employees hold the same values as the company, so many CEOs may ask candidates their opinions on the company's vision and mission statement. Carefully research the company's website, especially its vision and mission statement, as it can help you gain a better understanding of the company and learn if you hold the same values.

Do you have any questions for me?

Asking the CEO questions about the company lets the CEO know how interested you are, along with what aspects of the job you're excited to learn more about. One of the CEO's overall goals during this interview is to teach you more about the company. If you're enthusiastic about learning more, your efforts may impress the CEO. Here are a few questions you can ask the CEO:

  • Where do you see the company moving in five years?

  • How is the company's vision and mission statement applied throughout the day-to-day activities in the company?

  • What is your leadership style like?

  • How do you believe my role contributes to the overall goals of the company?

  • Are any efforts being put forward to increase employee collaboration and company culture?

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