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President Interview Questions

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  1. Your company has been losing market share to your largest competitor. Who do you add to the team to help? See answer
  2. Have you ever needed to deal with a management scandal? See answer
  3. What’s your process for communicating with mid-level and senior management staff who report to you? See answer
  4. Your subordinates have presented you with a project plan that’s highly attractive financially, but it tests your ethics. What do you do? See answer
  5. How would you react to a team member who challenges your opinion? See answer
  6. What do you think is more important for a company’s profits, streamlining operations, or expanding the consumer base?
  7. What do you think is the most valuable asset an employee can have?
  8. Can you tell me about your leadership style?
  9. What is your vision for this organization and what are some of the first steps you would take toward achieving it?
  10. Tell me about a time you faced a budgeting challenge. What actions did you take?
  11. As a leader, what methods do you use to build mutual trust on your team?
  12. What has been the most successful business strategy you have implemented? How did it improve the company?
  13. What approaches do you use to develop talent and motivate others?
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6 President Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Your company has been losing market share to your largest competitor. Who do you add to the team to help?

A:

The president of the company is the person who provides leadership for project teams and helps guide an organization’s larger overall strategy, particularly in troubled times. Since your president’s input will be crucial for determining your organization’s future trajectory, it’s critical that any potential hire has the business knowledge necessary to make smart decisions and the humility to know when he or she may need input from other specialists to help make a turnaround. What to look for in an answer:

  • Identifies possible sources of help, including business consultants and marketing specialists
  • Calm disposition when dealing with stressful situations
  • Business acumen

Example:

“If my company was losing out to a competitor, I would bring in a team of data-savvy business consultants to help me use analytics to better understand our current position, identify the best strategy going forward and train my teams to carry out any necessary changes.”

Q:

Have you ever needed to deal with a management scandal?

A:

As president, your candidate will serve as the public face of your organization. While management scandals aren’t common, your president may need to deal with the aftermath of previous mismanagement by taking steps to reduce any of damage that a given situation has on the long-term viability of your organization. Even if your candidate doesn’t have any direct experience with handling public relations after a public scandal, their answer to this question will reveal if they can effectively manage unexpected situations through strong management skills and innovative thinking. What to look for in an answer:

  • Direct answer to the question
  • Outlines clear strategy for dealing with negative publicity
  • Ability to handle stressful situations

Example:

“In my last organization, one of the vice presidents of finance was jailed for embezzlement. I brought in several external auditors to show the public and our shareholders that our finances would go through close scrutiny going forward.”

Q:

What’s your process for communicating with mid-level and senior management staff who report to you?

A:

In order to make important business decisions, the president of the organization will need to gather data about the current state of operations from many different managers within the organization. However, the president’s time is often limited because they’re in charge of providing leadership and direction to many projects. This means that internal meetings with mid-level and senior management usually need to be efficient and succinct, so your candidate should have a clear approach for effective time management while still considering their role as a direct supervisor to those working under them. What to look for in an answer:

  • Past examples of working with many layers of management
  • Clear strategy for time management
  • Thoughtful approach to leadership and staff management

Example:

“In order to make sure I’m spending enough time with folks who have boots on the ground, I reserve every Monday for internal meetings.”

Q:

What do you think is more important for a company’s profits, streamlining operations or expanding the consumer base?

A:

For the president of an organization to implement an effective business strategy, he or she will necessarily need to have a strong understanding of what drives profitability in your industry. While there’s no single correct answer to this open-ended question, your candidate should be aware of the important industry-specific revenue streams and cost structures that are relevant to your company. The strongest candidates will be able to substantiate their answers with clear examples from personal experience and demonstrable evidence through data, statistics or case studies. What to look for in an answer:

  • Explains the rationale behind the chosen strategy using concrete evidence
  • Recognizes the importance of revenue and cost structures in profitability
  • Strong communication skills

Example:

“For a business in this industry, it’s very difficult to cut inputs and costs any more beyond what you’re already doing, so in this particular instance, I would recommend expanding the customer base.”

Q:

Your subordinates have presented you with a project plan that’s highly attractive financially, but it tests your ethics. What do you do?

A:

Since your president will be taking the lead on directing your organization’s business strategy, it’s critical to ensure that your candidate’s ethical foundation aligns with your company’s values. You should be confident that a potential hire will not steer your company toward legal trouble for participating in projects that might be based on questionable ethical and legal boundaries. This question helps make sure that the candidate is a good match for your company’s values and will be committed to avoiding any potential negative press and the corresponding damage to your brand. What to look for in an answer:

  • Gives a direct answer to the question
  • Sets up a logical framework for evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of potential project plans
  • Ethical considerations are in line with your company’s values

Example:

“Even if a plan is financially attractive, I wouldn’t adopt it if it has negative ethical implications since my company’s brand is based on corporate social responsibility, and it may isolate our most loyal customers.”

Q:

How would you react to a team member who challenges your opinion?

A:

Especially as leaders, the way an individual responds to criticism is crucial. Dealing with conflict objectively helps to support a positive environment. A candidate's answer to this question will reveal their leadership style, the methods they use to overcome challenges, and critical thinking skills. The ability to navigate stressful situations and the unexpected reveals strong management. Listening to others shows an individual who values others and is willing to learn. Some things to look for are:

  • A peaceful temperament
  • Ability to handle stress and tense situations
  • Objective thought and effective communication

An effective answer can look similar to this:

Example:

"Because I am a leader it is my obligation and privilege to listen to others. Although I do consider all options before I form and share an opinion, I understand that others can also offer insight. My ability to lead comes from those who are trusting in my leadership and they deserve to be heard. When my opinion is challenged I try to remain calm and ask for clarification. I seek to understand others and listen because I feel like I have a lot to gain from those around me. I understand that my reaction to things guides the atmosphere in a room and because of that I maintain composure and show that it is acceptable to share ideas openly. I want to help my company improve and the only way to do that is to uphold the mission and values through my daily actions."

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