Preparing for Longlist Interview

The executive recruitment process for senior roles can be demanding so it’s important to put rigour and energy into your preparation and application. To ensure that you excel at the preliminary interview stage, GatenbySanderson’s Partner, Luke Judd, offers the following tips.

If you do make it through to the preliminary (or ‘longlist’) interview stage, this is your chance to show that you meet the necessary criteria and are the right person for the role.

These interviews are usually held at a GatenbySanderson office in London, Leeds or Birmingham, and will be with a GS Senior Consultant or Partner. GS may also use an external ‘technical assessor’ with relevant senior experience, who will ask specific questions based around the criteria as well as the the issues and challenges the postholder will face. The role of the interviewers is to report back to the client with a written report on each candidate and a recommendation regarding whether they should be taken through to a final stage.

In advance

  • Be sure to really prepare by investigating everything about the post and the organisation. Occasionally candidates say that they were going to do research IF they get through to a final panel, and hence seem ill-informed at longlist. My advice is to do the research in advance of the longlist interview.
  • It should be explained in the confirmation letter, but if you are unsure please do check in advance about the format the interview will take. This should help prevent any unexpected surprises on the day.
  • Try to second guess the questions you may be asked; these may well be around the issues of leadership, managing budgets and change management.
  • If there is a technical assessor used, find out who they are and what their background is.
  • Do dress appropriately – it may be a preliminary interview but that does not mean it is informal!
  • Work out your transport well in advance; the GS offices are near mainline stations, so we recommend the train (parking is tricky to find at times!).

During the interview

  • There may not be much time for chit chat at the beginning of the interview, and you may be plunged straight into the interview. Often, candidates are asked to talk about their careers at the start of the interview. Keep this focused and relevant.
  • If the interviewer asks you to ‘briefly’ or ‘succinctly’ answer a question, please try to do so!  They may be dropping a hint about the length of your answers!
  • Watch your ‘body language’. So, maintain eye contact, don’t slump in your seat, engage with the interviewers, etc.
  • For your answers, offer examples of what you have achieved. Don’t purely answer in an overly strategic or theoretical way. We want to know you understand the bigger picture, but you also need to back this up with evidence of delivery or outcomes.
  • Your motivations for an application will be explored, and it is advisable to offer a bit more than ‘I fancied a change’, or ‘It means a shorter commute’.
  • There should be the time to raise question of your own at the end. Do so if there is something relevant you want to ask – don’t ask questions for the sake of it.
  • You may be asked about your current salary and package – don’t be offended, this is standard practice.
  • The consultant should let you know about the next steps and dates in the process, but do check if there is anything you are unsure about and let them know about any practical issues (ie dates clashing, holidays, etc).

After the interview

  • You will be informed by the lead consultant in due course regarding whether you have got through to the next stage. This may be a week or two after your interview, as GS will of course need to confer with the client before drawing up the shortlist.
  • You should get feedback (if you want it) after the interview. Do check how this will be organised; you may have to book space in the lead consultant’s diary. Feedback is a key part of the process – and you can gain a huge amount of information which will stand you in good stead.

If you would like to learn more about how GatenbySanderson can help you, contact us on Leeds 0113 205 6071, London 020 7426 3960 or Birmingham 0121 644 5700.