This Chief Executive Officer (CEO) interview question list brings together an overview of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions. Feel free to tailor it to suit your company and the vacancy you need to fill.
The CEO is the leader of the business, with final responsibility for profit and loss, turnover, shareholder return, strategy, operations and people. A good CEO will bring a wide range of experience with a broad balance of commercial judgement, financial acumen, industry knowledge and people skills. There is no one best “type” of CEO, but it is very important that they fit the organisation’s culture and gel with the existing management team, especially if they are a new hire from outside.
You may wish to use a range of tests around personality types or team role. Use the interviews as an opportunity to evaluate the outcome of these tests. You should probe and explore any findings. Its important for such a senior and responsible position that a representative spread of the management team are involved. Make time for all the senior department heads to interact with the candidate and form their own judgement.
The CEO hire process is often lengthy and can involve asking candidates to pre-prepare presentations on a current strategy or industry challenge to the Board, as well as meeting staff from different teams at all levels of the business.
The following open-ended and situational interview questions will encourage your candidates to speak at length about their relevant experience. Use them to guide the interview, and ask follow up questions. You won’t need every single question. They will help you get a sense of their interpersonal skills, such as how well they manage, how well they can work on a team, and what motivates them as employees. The best candidates will be able to articulate what interests them about your company, and will contribute several prepared and spontaneous questions of their own to the conversation.
- Why did you decide to apply for this position?
- What aspects of the job appeal to you?
- What is the major challenge facing this company/industry sector today and what is your approach to dealing with it?
- Tell us more about your experience in the following: (insert specific skills areas, technology or knowledge requirements necessary for this role in your company)
- What strengths will you bring to the position?
- Describe how you have communicated and executed a major change project in a previous role.
- What has been the most difficult situation you have had to deal with?
- How would you describe your leadership style.
- Which of your previous jobs have you enjoyed the most? Why?
- What area of experience/skill will you need to develop if you get the job? How will you get it?
- What type of person do you find the most challenging to work with?
- Describe a time you led by example.
- How do you develop the team around you?
- Describe someone you coached or mentored. What were they doing initially, and what are they doing now?
- How do you deal with underperformance?
- How do you challenge your star performers and bring out the best in them?
- What does having a growth mindset mean to you?
- What have you done to provide thought leadership in your industry?
- Tell us about a situation you experienced where you resolved conflict in a team.
- Tell us about a time when you turned business failure into success.
- What stretch goals have you met or exceeded?
- How do you create the best strategy to beat the competition in this industry?
- How do you go about organizing your day?
- What are some of your techniques for handling personal stress?
- What support would you require from the Board of Directors?
- Which company that you have had contact with is the most innovative? Why?
- What does company culture mean to you? What is the role of the CEO in company culture?
- What is the biggest global threat to our business?
- What is the biggest opportunity?
- Have you any questions?
Click here for a job description that you can easily customise to your company and use for posting on job boards.