A couple of weeks ago, we touched on the topic of "I'm A Successful Executive - Why Isn’t The Phone Ringing?". The article itself was inspired by some of the questions I receive from our executive members here at GatedTalent. This fundamentally looked at the initial stage of any executive placement process, how to establish relationships with executive recruiters, and the importance of personal branding via your resume, biography or profiles on LinkedIn and GatedTalent. In this article, Executive Career Coach Tim Windhof addresses the questions I get asked by executives on the interviewing stage.

(1) From the executive as well from the potential employer perspective, in an ideal world, the search process of an executive search firm would yield results ASAP; preferably within a few weeks. Is that a realistic scenario? 

Tim Windhof: Finding and assessing the right company leaders can be time consuming, so expecting an “ASAP result” might end in disappointment in quite a few scenarios. Executive search firms will typically have to source and qualify several interested prospects before deciding whether or not they are ready to schedule more detailed screening interviews or if more research is required. Only after this process and more detailed interviews are completed, most search firms will produce a written candidate report and present the shortlisted candidates. Client interviews, follow-up and reference checks will follow. Just from looking at these milestones, one can imagine that the search process will not be a matter of weeks for most executive search scenarios. 

(2) How many interviews can I expect in a typical process? How many people will attend? 

Tim: From my experience, I would say that there is no “typical” process. Rounds of interviews and number of interviewers and panels will vary greatly from industry to industry and even company to company. Having said that, when pursuing executives opportunities, I wouldn’t expect under 3 rounds of interviewing (screening interview, stakeholder interview, C-level sign-off). C-level opportunities frequently include a “lunch or dinner interview”, so for those opportunities you might be looking at 4 or 5 rounds of interviews overall. Panel interviews will often have 4 to 5 interviewers on their panel. 

(3) Is there any difference in how I should handle meetings with the recruiter and the end client? 

Tim: Your strategy here would depend on whether or not the recruiter is “generally” interested in working with and placing you, or if he/she has only has a specific opportunity in mind. Your approach would also depend on whether or not you are currently employed. Generally speaking, I would say that you can be more candid about what you want and expect when talking with recruiters vs when talking to the end client. 

(3) Is there anything I can do to increase my chances of success in the interview? 

Tim: Yes, you certainly can and should. Most executives I meet consider themselves “good interviewers.” And in most cases, I agree. But here is the catch: being “good” is seldomly enough; particularly when targeting competitive C-level opportunities where every competitor “performs well” when interviewing. You therefore need to interview “outstandingly” well. And the only way you can be outstanding in anything is practice, practice, practice. If you do that, you will be able to deliver a convincing 30 second elevator speech and Unique Value Proposition in a sentence or two. This will set you apart from your competitors who barely took time to prepare. 

 (4) Any mistakes that you see made often – anything I should avoid? 

Tim: If I had to pick one frequent mistake, it would be not being able to connect the dots on aspects mentioned in your resume. The best interviewees are able to guide the interviewer by expanding on points outlined in the resume. 

 (5) How should I follow up after the interview? 

Tim: In my opinion, it’s best to follow-up as soon as possible - which will typically mean that your medium is email. If you feel better about sending a hand-written note via snail mail, you could simply do that additionally. Content wise, it is paramount that you don’t limit yourself to simply thanking the interviewer for their time. You will want to seize the opportunity and pick-up on an important topic discovered, and possibly discussed, during the interview. Show the interviewer your expertise by outlining your plan how you will solve a pressing business issue when coming on-board. 


I would like to thank Tim Windhof once again for his time insights - I found them interesting and I’m sure our members will find his advice helpful! 

We would welcome anyone who has found this article of interest to join us this evening for our webinar, linked to this very topic: How Executive Recruiting Works.

Senior level recruitment is very different to lower level job seeking. During this 30-minute session, Jason Starr – himself a public company CEO and Board Member – will explain all, sharing results of surveys of both our executive members and our recruiter clients! 

Register and join this session here:


Alternatively, we are hosting some additional webinars on this topic next week, please connect with myself via LinkedIn, or email me directly at louise.duffield@gatedtalent.com.

We are pleased to have Tim hosting our exclusive Executives Biographies webinar next week, ‘Competitive Edge: Unleash the Power of Executive Bios’, and I myself look forward to joining this and gaining further knowledge on how to utilize an executive biography when engaging with executive recruiters. 

Tim Windhof is a certified executive résumé writer and international career coach who specializes in executive level career advancement. Tim is a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council and one of only 30 Certified Executive Resume Masters worldwide. Tim has lived, studied, and worked in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the U.S. He utilizes his cross-cultural knowledge to work with international résumé and coaching clients from around the globe. You can read more about Tim’s credentials and career services on his website: https://www.windhofcareers.com/.