Interview with the CEO (Including interview questions)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 September 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A job interview with the CEO is usually the final stage of the application process. Most often, the CEO may want to speak with you to understand your interest in the company and educate you on its goals and how you can help achieve them. Therefore, it's essential to know how to demonstrate your interest in the company when interviewing with the CEO as it may decide if you get the job or not. In this article, we discuss how you can prepare for an interview with the CEO, including what CEOs expect from candidates during job interviews and the questions you can ask.

Your interview with the CEO

Your interview with the CEO requires ample preparation because they're not a regular employee. They're an individual with years of professionalism and hard work. They expect excellence from candidates that intend to work for the company. When preparing for an interview, ensure you do your research: find out the current developments in the company and the industry. Learn about potential questions the CEO may ask, then write down the answers and memorise them. Also, take care of your appearance, groom your hair and prepare your best business attire. The following paragraphs can help you prepare for the interview.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

Preparations for an interview with the CEO

Prepare for an interview with the CEO with these steps:

Investigate the company and the position

CEOs want to understand how much you know about the company. Visit the company's website and read as much information as you can. The about us page may contain information on the company's mission. If you've checked the website during the earlier part of the interview process, you can go back to refresh your memory. Another way to research the company is by reading reviews of the business. While reading reviews, you might find out about the company's challenges and think of solutions you can offer to the CEO during the interview.

Related: Understanding the C-Suite: What It Is and How To Get There

Find out about the CEO

It's necessary to do some research on the CEO before the interview. First, it helps you learn more about them: their educational qualifications, work experiences, achievements and exposure. Secondly, you get to understand their personality: if they're cheerful and easy-going or a classic workaholic. This may give you an idea of the direction the interview is going to take. You can find out who the CEO is by using search engines to check out the company's management structure and then learn more about the CEO by searching for their name on professional and social platforms.

Related: What is a CEO? (Including duties and salary information)

Prepare yourself to answer random questions

While preparing yourself for standard interview questions, be ready for the unique ones since you're meeting with the CEO, who has probably made time to prepare for the interview. You might not just get simple questions, such as asking about how you intend to contribute to the company's growth. Instead, the CEO might ask unique questions to understand your personality and thought process. Prepare for a range of questions, but most importantly, learn how to answer with confidence.

Related: Preparing for trick questions in an interview

Prepare intelligent questions to ask

During your interview with the CEO, you may have the opportunity to ask some questions – as you did in the initial job interviews. Although it might be tempting to play safe by asking generic questions, try to avoid them. Be aware that the CEO is already expecting such questions and asking them might not be impressive. So, it's essential that you have some intelligent questions ready before going for the interview. Asking questions regarding the CEO's leadership and contribution to the company's growth might leave a lasting impression.

Get sufficient sleep

It's natural to feel anxious when preparing for an interview, especially one with the company's top management. Your anxiety might even deprive you of sleep. But it's essential to get enough sleep before the interview as a lack of it may affect your attention to detail. Getting sufficient rest can help you clear your mind.

What CEOs look for during an interview

CEOs look for a range of qualities in an applicant during interviews to know if they're the right candidate for the role, including their combination of skills, personal attributes and temperament. They also want to know that candidates can fit into the company's culture. These are the most common characteristics that a CEO may pay special attention to during interviews:

Your previous accomplishments

When a CEO conducts an interview, they usually look for previous accomplishments. While it's important to have a good resume, the CEO might scan through it for less than a minute before asking for your achievements in your previous workplace. So, it's necessary to prepare or rehearse some instances where your skills made a difference.

Related: Interview question: 'what is your greatest achievement?'

Your work motivation

One of the essential qualities that a CEO wants to know about is your motivation for performing in the position. CEOs want to hear your thoughts to determine if you have enough passion to excel in the role. If you're going to have an impactful interview with a CEO, showcasing your motivation by speaking about your passion for the position is crucial.

Your composure during pressure

The CEO interviewing was probably once a regular employee, so they understand that you are under pressure. During interviews, they might observe how you answer questions and some might even test your emotions to see how well you work under pressure. So, it's necessary to know how to take control of this situation. For instance, try mastering the art of small talk. Answer the question the CEO asks you, but add some jokes or small talk. Be confident and take control of the interview room and the CEO might take a second look at your CV.

Related: Interview Question: 'How Do You Work Under Pressure?'

Your ambition

This is one of the essential qualities required by every interviewer, including the CEO. Every CEO is looking for an individual who can improve their company, not only fill a position. So, prepare yourself to answer questions about your ambitions for working with the company and also how you plan to contribute to the company's success.

Related: Interview question: 'what are your hobbies?'

Questions to expect from the CEO

As with any other interview, adequate preparation is vital to answer questions that the CEO might ask. They ask these questions to find out more about you and your personality. Here are a few questions that they might ask you:

Tell me a little about yourself

In most cases, this is the first question they ask you. When answering this question, include your job experience, accomplishments in your previous position and what you did to achieve them. You can also add what you gained from your experience.

Related: How To Answer 'Tell Me Something Interesting About Yourself'

How do you see yourself a few years from now?

Like most questions that the CEO asks, the rationale for this question is to determine how ambitious you are. So, when you are answering this question, go into full details of your plans and how you intend to contribute to the company's growth and move up to top management through hard work and dedication. You can include the additional skills you intend to acquire to improve your productivity on the job. It might just leave an impression on the CEO.

Why do we need you in our company?

The most appropriate answer to this question involves describing your passion for and commitment to the job. Since you have not seen the other applicants, you can't compare yourself with them. The best approach is to turn this part of the interview into a conversation.

Why did you leave your previous job?

Almost every CEO wants to know what made you leave your previous job. Answer this question carefully because the CEO may listen to your answer to look for red flags. To correctly answer this question, there are a few things that you can leave out of your response. Avoid saying negative things about your previous workplace. For example, avoid criticising your last manager for any reason or mentioning that you couldn't get along with the other employees. Instead, you could discuss how you want to achieve more and how changing your workplace can help you grow in your career.

Related: 11 Common Reasons Employees Leave Their Roles (Plus Tips)

What are your most significant weaknesses?

As vulnerable as this question might make you feel, try answering it with confidence. A reasonable way to answer this question can be to choose an actual weakness and how you are continually working to overcome it. Your honesty in answering the question is all that is required.

Related: 14 answers to “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?” interview question

Do you have any questions for me?

When it finally gets to your turn to ask questions, do not waste your opportunity. Ask relevant questions to demonstrate that you are smart and determine if the company is good for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions that can also make the CEO think. After all, it's an interview for both of you.

Related: Questions To Ask at an Interview

Explore more articles