At a recent workshop I led on interviewing for executives, one participant asked about what “executive presence” actually means. Is there a checklist of factors that recruiters use to evaluate this? Does it mean the ability to use humor or wit – i.e., do you need to be particularly clever during your interviews? What can a job seeker do to ensure they are seen as having executive presence?
The term, executive presence, is thrown about almost as liberally as the word “fit” in the hiring process, and like the amorphous “fit” executive presence can mean different things to different people. However, in general, a person with executive presence is someone that the employer would feel confident putting in front of senior executives (internally or at clients). Here are 10 factors that recruiters assess to approximate a candidate’s executive presence – ideally you score well on all of these:
Do you make solid eye contact? Is your handshake firm? Do you exude energy and confidence right from the start? The interview (and the assessment) begins before you’re even in the official meeting room. Even scheduling the interview gives an indication of how organized and responsive you are. When you appear put-together from the start, the recruiter takes you seriously from the start, and you set up the right first impression to score well on presence.
It’s not enough to have good posture just at the start. Make sure you can walk and sit through the whole interview without slouching, sitting too casually, or leaning forward too aggressively. People with executive presence are poised. If you normally slouch, you probably will slouch at some point in the interview process. Fix your posture all the time – don’t count on the interviews being an exception to how you normally comport yourself.
Notice that I didn’t write business dress – it’s not about dressing in a suit, but dressing appropriately for the industry and the occasion. Executive presence means you are neat and well-groomed, but a suit might be too stiff (say for a creative role at a media company or in many technology companies). I had one candidate who dressed in a suit when he was meeting operations people at a factory. While the suite might have been overlooked for a meeting at headquarters, it made him stand out in a negative way at the factory – the operations people didn’t feel like he really understood their culture, and that was a key part of this role.
Read the 7 other factors in my Forbes Leadership post:
Originally published on May 02, 2017 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau