If you’ve been working for any length of time, you’ll have already been through countless job interviews. But if you’re trying to take that next step on the career ladder by securing yourself an executive role, you need to be aware that job interviews at this level are a different proposition.

When it comes to interviewing for senior-level jobs, employers are looking for a specific set of characteristics. Obviously, they want someone with the requisite experience and leadership skills – but on top of this, they also need to be confident that you’ll be a good culture fit as well.

So, if you’re on the lookout for a new executive role – whether it’s your first job at this level or you already have some senior-level experience – you need to be aware of what’ll be expected of you at the interview stage. Here are some top tips to bear in mind.


Show, don’t tell

Employers interviewing for executive-level roles are looking for more than just warm words. While it’s true that you do need to be able to tell a compelling story about yourself, you also need to be able to back this up with solid evidence of relevant skills and experience.

Interviews for senior-level positions tend to be more scenario-based than for less senior jobs. This is specifically because employers want to see proof that candidates have the kind of leadership skills which are a prerequisite for senior-level positions.

This is why you need to be able to discuss specific accomplishments from your previous work history. Specific facts and figures are always good where relevant, but more to the point, employers will be looking for specific challenges and how you’ve overcome them.

It’s worth emphasising here that though it’s important to acknowledge the role of your team when giving these examples, it’s even more important that you’re clear on what you brought to the party – so this is a time when it’s good to talk about ‘I’ rather than ‘we’. Don’t be held back by modesty.


Demonstrate your leadership style

Following on from the previous point, it’s not just about specific achievements in your earlier roles. Employers will also want to know more about your individual approach to leadership, in order to ascertain whether or not it’s likely to be a good fit for their organisation.

When you’re interviewed for an executive-level position, your prospective employer will be looking for evidence that you’re not only competent enough to handle the challenges that go with the job, but also that you have the kind of leadership style that brings the best out of your colleagues.

So, before you go into your interview, think about instances from your previous work experience that are likely to provide your interviewers with reassurance on this score. You need to demonstrate the ability to lead a team, but also to show that you’re a constructive and positive influence.


Be generous to your colleagues

You might think, when you’re trying to secure a senior-level job, that you need to make everything about yourself at the interview stage. This isn’t necessarily the case – again, you should be looking to show your potential employer that you’re a genuine team player, being generous to colleagues to demonstrate inclusive leadership while at the same time emphasising what you’ve contributed as an individual.

A lot of people still have an outdated and simplistic view of what actually constitutes good leadership. Too often, they assume that it’s all about authority – as if it were a matter of simply dishing out orders to subordinates, and have them carrying out your directives, pronto.

Of course, when you’re in an executive position you do have to be prepared to lead – but giving your colleagues the confidence to act on their own initiative is an important aspect of this. You need to prove that you understand this in your interview, so when you’re asked about your previous accomplishments at work, don’t try to claim all the credit for yourself; show some team spirit.

Now, this might seem contradictory to what we discussed earlier, namely talking about ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ in interviews. But effective leadership involves bringing the best out of your colleagues, which is why prospective employers will also want to see evidence that you understand the value of teamwork and can spur the rest of your team on to achieve more.


Values matter

Another increasingly important aspect of leadership is culture fit. Forward-thinking employers put ever-greater emphasis on values, and they want to have confidence that new hires share a similar set of values to themselves – so this is something they’ll be looking to ascertain at interview.

This is important at all levels, but especially so at executive level. So, before you go into your interview, take the time to study the organisation you want to work for in detail. Employers are usually upfront about their values and priorities, so it shouldn’t be hard to find out what they are.

This doesn’t mean simply looking at its website or Glassdoor. Think about who you know at the organisation, who you could potentially speak to – confidentially – to find out more about what the culture there is like. Intuitive’s Talent Team carry out interview preparation for each candidate, and so will help with this background knowledge.

You then need to think about the values that matter to you, and how closely they fit with those of the organisation you’re applying to. Of course, if your values don’t chime with those of the organisation, then it may be worth reconsidering whether the job is really for you.

For a decade, Intuitive has been helping talented leadership candidates make lasting connections with like-minded employers in the transport sector. If you’re considering an executive-level career in UK transport, get in touch with our friendly team of specialist recruiters today to discuss what we can do to help you take the next big step in your professional journey.

WE would love to get to know you!

Please do give us a call, drop us a message or follow us on Twitter & Linkedin!

Related blogs

Success Stories - Martijn Gilbert
Read more Read more
Video: Success Stories – Martijn Gilbert

Our team works with a host of leading employers in the bus industry, placing dynamic leadership talent into executive level roles.

why rail needs interim leaders
Read more Read more
Why UK Rail Needs Interim Executives

There is growing demand for interim leaders in the UK rail sector – here are some of the main reasons why – and how you can get ahead.

why public transport is a great career choice
Read more Read more
Why You Should Consider a Career in Public Transport

We explore several of the most important reasons why you should consider a leadership-level career in public transport.

Read more Read more
Intuitive On The Move!

The Intuitive team has been out and about, mixing with transport industry leaders, and keeping our ears close to the ground for the latest developments.

Read more Read more
What UK Rail can do for Social Mobility

What should UK rail be doing to support those from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds as they try to make their mark on the industry?

Read more Read more
Creating a Friendly Workplace Culture for Neurodivergent Individuals in UK Transport

Being neurodivergent-inclusive brings benefits both to employee wellbeing and your business. But how do you create a neurodivergent-friendly workplace?

Read more Read more
Seven Ways Interim Managers Could Boost Your Business

Recruiting interim candidates is a good way of bringing in specialist expertise, offering flexibility and a diverse breadth of experience as well as cost-effectiveness.

Unconscious bias against neurodiversity in recruitment
Read more Read more
Assessing Your Recruitment Process for Neurodiversity Bias

As with any other employee, new executives need support as they adjust to their new role so that they can perform to their full potential. But how long is long enough?

How long should executive onboarding last
Read more Read more
How Long Should Executive Onboarding Last?

As with any other employee, new executives need support as they adjust to their new role so that they can perform to their full potential. But how long is long enough?

Read more Read more
Key Challenges for the UK Bus and Coach Industry – and the Leadership it Needs

We take a close look at the biggest challenges facing the bus sector and how they might be addressed moving forward.

promoting yourself as an interim executive
Read more Read more
Promoting Yourself as an Interim

To be an effective interim executive, you need a particular skill set that equips you for the challenges you’re likely to encounter. Here’s what to develop – and to promote.

Considerations to make before committing to your next career move
Read more Read more
What You Need to Consider Before Making Your Next Career Move

Before committing a big career move, there’s a lot you need to think about. Here’s what you should consider before taking on a new role.

Read more Read more
Infographic: How Intuitive Made a Difference in 2023

We did so much in 2023, so we’ve created an infographic of some of our biggest achievements this year!

bus industry diversity
Read more Read more
Driving Change in the UK Bus Industry: Why Diversity Matters

Taking a closer look at why it’s so vital that organisations in the bus and coach sector take diversity seriously and act accordingly.

Bus Sector
Read more Read more
Video: A Force for Change in the Bus Sector

Our team works with a host of leading employers in the bus industry, placing dynamic leadership talent into executive level roles.

ed&i in the UK bus sector
Read more Read more
ED&I In The UK Bus Industry: The Scale Of The Challenge

Buses have long been the site of struggles for civil rights and equality, and, for all its progress, the UK bus industry has a way to go.

executive onboarding blog
Read more Read more
How To Keep Executive Onboarding On Track

Between 50% and 70% of executives fail within 18 months of starting a new role. So what can be done to ensure executives thrive and prosper?

interview style pros and cons
Read more Read more
Conducting a Successful Interview: Pros and Cons of Different Interview Styles 

Recruiting for executive roles is never an easy business, but choosing the right interview format for the position and your organisation can make it easier.

executive onboarding
Read more Read more
New Candidate Expectations for Executive Onboarding

New senior-level recruits have very different needs from their colleagues. Here’s how to ensure your executive onboarding process works.

The UK rail skills shortage 2023
Read more Read more
Infographic: The UK Rail Skills Shortage

Our infographic lays bare the scale of the skills shortage in UK rail, its effects on the industry, and how recruiters can help to address the skills gap.

impact statement
Read more Read more
Our Impact Statement

Through our commitment to ED&I, we’ve spent the last decade working to make transport more diverse – and more reflective of the public it serves.

Read more Read more
Growing Senior Transport Roles to Consider in Recruitment Plans

We detail the growing c-suite positions you should account for in your recruitment strategies or may want to pursue as a leadership candidate.

Read more Read more
Knowing if and When Interim Leadership Is Right for You

For many senior professionals, interim management is the most rewarding career path imaginable – but contract work isn’t for everyone.

Read more Read more
CV Rules and Best Practices for Senior Leaders

How you can take your CV from a tell-all list to a marketing tool that increases your chance of securing an interview.

Read more Read more
Video: Nina Reflects on 10 Years of Intuitive

Founder and Director Nina Lockwood reflects on the last ten years of Intuitive and shares her thoughts on recruitment and the transport industry.

Celebrating ten years of Intuitive Recruitment
Read more Read more
Video: Ten Years of Intuitive

Intuitive’s first decade has been magical. Here are the highlights, from bringing new faces into the sector to hosting a hit podcast and winning Executive Recruitment Agency of the Year.

Intuitive 2022 Year in Review
Read more Read more
Video: Our 2022 Wrap Up

2022 has certainly been a fantastic year for Intuitive. So to celebrate, we’ve packed our highlights into a short wrap-up video.

Read more Read more
Infographic: Sector Switching – How to Figure out the Right Fit?

Could a different sector be a better fit for your career priorities and progression goals? This 7-step plan can help you decide.

Read more Read more
Get what you need from Interviews Without being Script-Bound

We share six steps for developing an interview approach that gets what you need from leadership candidate interviews, without relying on a script.

Read more Read more
Adapting Your Interview Style: Part 2 – In-Person Interviews

In-person interviews are far more fluid than they used to be – especially for senior leaders. Here are four ways to adapt your interview style for senior leadership positions.

Read more Read more
Adapting Your Interview Style: Part 1 – Video

As video interviews have grown, so have expectations of how candidates use virtual tools. Here’s how to adapt your interview style for virtual spaces.

Read more Read more
Making LinkedIn an Irreplaceable Career Progression Tool

We share our tried-and-true seven-step strategy for making LinkedIn an irreplaceable tool in your career progression journey.

Read more Read more
Hallmarks of Ads that Attract the Strongest Candidates

Discover four fundamental features of senior leadership job adverts that attract the strongest Transport candidates.

Read more Read more
Building an Employer Value Proposition That Evolves with Candidate Expectations

While you can’t predict what’s to come, adjusting your strategic approach with an evolving EVP can ensure it always delivers what matters.

Read more Read more
Faster Career Progression by Embracing Positive Thinking

A positive attitude can be a real divider when it comes to professional success and can improve confidence, relationships and the speed at which you achieve your goals.

Read more Read more
Building a Personal Brand That’s Instantly Memorable

How do you curate a personal brand that’s true to you but still has career progression prowess?

Read more Read more
How To Have Authentic Conversations With Candidates

Authentic conversations help uncover the real person behind an impressive CV, and are paramount to matching the right candidate with the right enterprise.

Read more Read more
Weighing Up A New Role: Three Questions To Ask

We share three fantastic questions that every transport leadership candidate should ask during the interview process. Revealing answers are guaranteed!

Read more Read more
Intuitive proudly announce our CPT membership

Intuitive will be teaming up with the CPT to connect bus and coach organisations with exceptional leadership professionals.

leadership potential
Read more Read more
Ways to Identify Leadership Potential Outside Your Sector

How can your transport organisation tap into cross-sectoral talent and identify leadership potential? We explore strategies for finding talent and 5 specific characteristics to look for.

transport sector
Read more Read more
How Transport Can Be a Successful Force for Change

Why connecting with clients with candidates from outside of the transport sector is important and how it can benefit your organisation. We share 4 interesting advantages.

Read more Read more
Reverse Mentoring: Why it’s Important to the Transport Sector

Reverse mentoring empowers less senior, younger, or more unconventional employees to share their knowledge and experience with more senior, conventional, and oftentimes older colleagues.

Read more Read more
How to Challenge Unconscious Bias in the Recruitment Process

Unconscious bias has been associated with career challenges for those from diverse backgrounds, and when left unchecked, can affect workplace inclusivity.

Read more Read more
Why Your EVP will Turn the Tide on Recruitment Challenges

Putting your employer value proposition at the heart of your recruitment strategy can set you up for long and short term success.

Read more Read more
4 Ways to Have a Positive Mindset in Your Role

In the workplace and as a leader, a positive mindset is important not just for job satisfaction, but for being effective and driving change.

Read more Read more
Unveiling the 90 Day Accelerator Programme

Nina and Founder and Director of Metisblue Laurent Bouvier introduce the exclusive and focused 90 Day Accelerator Programme.

Blog Title Card: Nina on Inspirational Women in Recruitment
Read more Read more
Hear Nina on the Inspirational Women in Recruitment Podcast

Nina recently featured on the Inspirational Women in Recruitment podcast, revealing her approach to attracting and engaging talent and more.

Skills for the transport sector
Read more Read more
How to Match Transport Candidates Beyond the Job Description

Whether recruiting as an internal team or with a Talent Consultancy, our tips can help you match high-level roles with the best in transport.

Blog Title Card: In-Demand Skills for Transport
Read more Read more
5 Key Transferable and Desirable Skills for the Transport Sector

Discover the top five in-demand transferable skills relevant to high-level roles in the transport sector, based on feedback from our clients.