Frustrated with Coming Second? – Executive Job Interview Tips

You are successful; you have a good, demanding high status job in a reputable organisation: your professional and technical capabilities and achievements to date are beyond question; you are definitely firmly on the executive career ladder to success. And yet …

You are frustrated and disappointed.  You know that you have the ability and capacity to take on a bigger job involving more responsibility, leading and managing others and making a more significant contribution, and you are impatient to secure this big step-change in your career.  However, try as you might, you keep just missing out on that next big job opportunity.  You seem to have no problem getting past the first selection stages and you have been shortlisted for some significant roles on more than one occasion.  However you seem to end up falling short at the final critical interview stage.

The feedback you have received from the various headhunter and search firms you have dealt with has been less than helpful i.e. too general, not specific and encouraging you simply to try harder next time.  Your own assessment is that you are losing out, not because you lack capability and experience, but more that you are not putting yourself across with sufficient clarity and confidence to persuade the interviewer that you are ready for the next big challenge in your career.

At Brosna Career Consulting we specialise 1:1 in helping individuals who face these difficulties to make the significant career breakthrough that has so far eluded them.  Whilst no two situations are identical, and we will always tailor what we do to the precise needs of the individual, there are some repeating examples of best practice that more often than not can significantly improve your chances of success:

Self-awareness and self-disclosure

If your analysis is that you need to change the way you present yourself at interview, then the first step is to be honest with yourself about this; don't go on deluding yourself that with a bit more preparation it will be better next time; remember if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. This leads on to…

Seeking help

Enlist the help of someone who can objectively, sensitively but firmly understand the changes you might need to make and then provide you with tools and advice to navigate you through improving your presentation of yourself and your unique capabilities. To be effective this in turn requires….


Pay attention to any feedback you have received along the way and resist the temptation to ignore or downplay it if it is uncomfortable.  If you don't have specific feedback about how you come across at interview then find a way of accessing this.  This is why at Brosna when we are working 1:1 with individuals we are insistent on individuals participating in video interview role plays, so they can actively see themselves as others might and then focus in on the specific behaviours that will need modifying to create a more positive impact.

Preparation & Practice

Take every opportunity in your interview preparation to practice and refine the way you tell the story about you, your capabilities, your achievements and why you are absolutely the right person for the job you are seeking.

The gap at interview between being a shortlisted candidate and becoming the successful future job holder is often a narrow one; by making some simple modifications to the way in which you present yourself success can be yours.  Imagine the shift in outlook from you being the executive job seeker that too often comes second, to having several significant job offers from which to choose to advance your senior level career.

It is in your grasp.