by: Lara Roizen
In Part 1 of this series on emotional intelligence and landing a C-Suite job, we discussed self-awareness as the key to cultivating the soft skills most prized in executive-level roles. An essential next step in landing the C-Suite position is conveying a high level of emotional intelligence during the interview process. Today, we’re taking a look at how these skills come into play during the interview process for executive positions and how to leave the best impression – EQ-wise – in an interview.
At ECA Partners, we hire executive talent across a diverse array of industries and functions across all levels and have unique insight and experience into this aspect of the interview process. Although we are extremely well-versed in our clients’ needs, ECA is an external organization and isn’t always privy to the finer details that decision-makers internal to the organization may screen for. As such, EQ and soft skills take on important role in our initial conversations with candidates before presenting individuals as potential leaders to our clients.
How, then, can one communicate excellent emotional intelligence and the soft skills required of a leader in an interview, and what are the most important facets to convey EQ-wise in an interview? LinkedIn has recognized leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management as being among the top 4 soft skills employers look for. In interviews, there are certain patterns that recruiters look for that can signal these skills and a candidate’s EQ. At ECA, the following criteria help us assess a candidate’s capacity for clear communication, self-awareness, and the ability to lead a team:
- Can you read the room? Can you match the energy of the person or people in front of you? As an example, if the person (or client) in front of you is reserved, can you bring that same energy in order to better connect with them? Can you intuit what would be perceived well by others and what’s appropriate?
- Are you comfortable with ambiguity and ambiguous situations, including during the interview process? Do you have the presence, mindset, and ability to regulate your emotions in order to handle unknowns? Can you communicate clearly in the face of ambiguity? Executives are often thrown into situations where they won’t know all the answers – but they have to have to be able to figure it out. Similarly, in an interview, you may not have all of the answers, but the ability to make the most of the information you have and remain engaged and articulate in the face of uncertainty can go a long way.
- Are you comfortable with small talk? While not the most crucial element of the interview, small talk at the beginning and end of interviews can signal good social skills to the interviewer.
- Do you have a strong executive presence? C-Suite executives have to show they have the confidence and authority to command a room and lead teams, while remaining collaborative and pleasant to work with. Being prepared with specific examples of leadership experience can be useful in demonstrating leadership ability as well.
- Can you walk us through your resume and background in an articulate, clear, and concise manner? The ability to clearly describe your work experience serves a twofold function: it not only lets us know if you have the technical skills for a job, but also shows us how clearly you communicate information.
- Do you understand the needs of the role and tailor your response accordingly? It’s integral to listen and really understand the core responsibilities of the role described during an interview – and to be able to pull the most relevant examples from your background to show why you’d be the best fit for the role. The ability to tailor your response to highlight the most important skills and experiences needed in an articulate manner is an invaluable aspect of EQ during the interview process.
While the above is true for all interviews regardless of seniority level, it is especially essential for executive roles. If you are looking to take your career to the next level, we would love to hear from you. ECA Partners works with numerous clients to fill executive and interim consulting roles across finance, strategy, and operations in private equity firms and their portfolio companies. Our jobs board lists our available positions both at the executive level and below.
To hear more tips about how former consultants have navigated executive roles as well as other career paths, listen to Beyond Consulting, ECA’s weekly podcast hosted by CEO Ken Kanara.
Lara Roizen is a Project Manager at ECA Partners. She can be reached at [email protected]