John Bernatovicz

How to Handle a Senior Level Interview

srWhen you are in line for an executive HR or payroll position, it’s a little more complicated than a typical HR or payroll interview. You need to sell yourself both up and down the org chart and yes, you do need to sell yourself. You’re (hopefully) not desperate; so don’t appear so… but far too often executives are too coy in interviews, feeling like they are too valuable to have to sell themselves. Not true.

As you interview for that VP of HR position, Director of HR, etc. position, you need to impress three constituencies: your boss, your peers, and the people who will be working on your HR or payroll staff. Each will be looking for strengths and weaknesses as well as how you interact with them on a personal level. It is not these groups job to recruit you – no matter how accomplished you are, you still have convincing to do.

Win over your potential HR team/subordinates by speaking their language. Be knowledgeable and impressive, not aloof and arrogant. Ultimately, any HR or payroll professional that will work under you will want to know that you will help them reach the next steps in their career and provide a great work environment in the meantime. They want to get a sense of what it will be like to work for and with you.

Persuade your peers by knowing the company you are interviewing with and their challenges. If you are working with Willory to land an HR or payroll position, we can help with this. But no matter what, do your research. This includes basic Google searches but also checking your network for connections to get some inside information. These meetings – with your potential peers – are every bit as important as a meeting with your potential boss, maybe more so as you need to demonstrate an ability to work with this group on a daily basis. After all, these are people who can back you up or cut you down in discussions with organizational management.

Win over your potential boss by speaking his or her language. What does the company need? What from your resume and experience have you accomplished that illustrates an ability to meet the company’s needs? The boss should be looking not only how you can solve business issues, but how you fit in with the rest of the team. A good boss will think about the organization holistically and how you will positively impact everyone.

Whenever you find yourself interviewing for a senior level HR or payroll position, be proud. You’ve accomplished a lot and are a desirable candidate. But you still need to take a minute, hop off your high horse – and get to relating and selling your candidacy to these three distinct groups. If you’re not showing that you are hungry, you can bet that your competition is.

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