The Best Questions to Ask in an Interview With a CEO

MmeEmil/E+/GettyImages

When you're a job seeker, you will likely go through a round of interviews – one or more interviews with the company's hiring manager or leadership team, depending on the level of the position you're seeking. In many cases, you might be interviewed by the company's chief executive officer himself. In addition to being asked questions by the CEO, you may be invited to ask the CEO some of your own questions. Some career coaches say the questions that a candidate asks during an interview are as important as the candidate's responses to questions posed by the prospective employer. Use this opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and curiosity about the company, the industry and the CEO's opinion of you.

What Do You Want Me to Accomplish in This Position?

This question shows the CEO that, before the company has finalized its hiring decision, you are thinking about what you can accomplish in this role. In addition to the CEO's answer, add what you hope to accomplish, based on what already know about the company. This exchange with the CEO demonstrates that you're curious about the organization of the company. When the CEO replies, cite specific reasons why you are well-qualified to meet these demands, such as previous job experience and qualifications, academic credentials and your own set of professional and personal goals.

How Do You See This Company Changing?

You should also attempt to show that you're curious about not just the position, but the company as a whole and the company's future. This suggests that you're interested in staying with the company for the long term and that you are a team player. The CEO's response should give you a better perspective of what kind of company you are considering joining – one that is steady and staid or dynamic and adventurous.

In What Direction Is the Industry Moving?

In addition to asking about the company, ask the CEO questions about potential changes or shifts in the industry. This demonstrates that you pay attention to the bigger picture and that you're able to situate the company within a larger context. If you can conduct industry research and where the company is positioned within its industry, your questions may lead to an exchange of views with the CEO, one that allows you to showcase your industry knowledge.

What Reservations Do You Have About Hiring Me for This Position?

Not only does this question show that you are unafraid of receiving criticism, but it allows you to directly address any questions the CEO has about hiring you. If the CEO has any misconceptions about you, you have an opportunity to clarify them face-to-face. Or if the CEO points to a particular weakness in your background, you can enumerate ways in which your other qualifications outweigh this drawback.

References

About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.