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Top 3 Executive Candidate Interview Mistakes

Jul 26, 2022 by Rocco Trapanese, Managing Director of Career Scout Japan K.K

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I’ve heard of several blunders made by executive candidates during interviews over my 16 year recruiting career in Japan.  Here are some of the most common mistakes you can make during an executive interview:

1. Complain about culture fit at current company

Commenting about this seems innocent enough, especially when asked “why do you want to change your job,” however, complaining about your superiors or stakeholders (or saying anything negative, really) invites a counterpunch every time. 

Client counterpunch:  “So, what did you do to fix the relationship?”  or “What if you join our company and deal with someone who’s tough?  Will you start to look for a new job too?”

Be sure to stay positive throughout the process.

2. Relaxing at final interview or offer stage

Great job keeping your game face on and making it to the final interview or the offer letter meeting!  However, don’t assume you’ve got the job just yet and start running your mouth.


CSJ anecdote:  “A CFO candidate had a debrief meeting, more of a formality, with the firm’s Managing Director after acing a regional stakeholder interview.  The CFO started bragging about getting a few sales staff fired from his company for trivial company rule violations.  His braggadocios and condescending attitude was totally different from his “best behavior” during previous interviews and was immediately terminated from the interview process.”

3. Over-emphasizing salary and pay increases during the first interview

The company will provide executive candidates a fair salary once they understand your value added proposition.  You’ll get counterpunched by the interviewer if your demands are too strong after the first interview.

Company counterpunch:   “It seems like you are more focused on money.  Why don’t you ask your current employer for a raise?”  Or  “We want people who are passionate about our company first.  You can make money anywhere, so why did you apply here?”

Feel free to contact us if you’d like help with your next executive level job search, and more tips on how to avoid the counter-punch

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