How to Save Time and Energy in Your Executive Career Change: Hard Work

How to Save Time and Energy in Your Executive Career Change: Hard Work

Allow me to take you through a common scenario. An executive is thinking about changing jobs, perhaps changing careers. He calls me up, believing the first thing he needs to do is acquire “a resume.” Of course, executive resume writing is what I do, so the conversation interests me. However, upon digging a bit deeper, I learned that the executive has so many questions about his or her career path that writing the resume now might actually delay the process. If you are reading this, you might also be thinking about having your executive resume professionally written. But will having your executive resume professionally written right now save you time and energy in your executive career change?

There Is No Easy Path to Growth

It has been said that there is no royal road to learning. In the same way, there is no royal road to executive job search success. Regardless of who you are, what your executive role is, and what your accomplishments have been over the last decade or more, job search is going to be hard. Few individual mechanisms on their own will guarantee that you save time in your job search. In fact, starting with a resume probably is not going to serve you.

The Best Way to Make Your Job Search Faster– Hard Work

Now, don’t get me wrong, I truly wish that the executive resume well-prepared, targeted, and replete with great accomplishments would solve all the job search questions that executives face. Usually, however, the question is much larger. The soul-searching that executives like yourself must go through to establish a direction that make sense, tap into a new network to identify the types of missions that are available, build the marketing program, and execute a successful job search– these all take time and a healthy dose of hard work. If you are looking for a quick fix, you are likely not to find one; if you talk to somebody who promises a quick fix, you might want to dig a little deeper both inside yourself and inside what you are being offered to determine if such a panacea is possible.

The Pareto Chart of Career Success Strategy

What does this type of hard work look like? What will get you the biggest bang for your strategic buck? Certainly, the resume is important, but it doesn’t usually make sense to create one until about midway through the process. Start by writing down what you believe to be the hardest part of creating a job search strategy. I would be willing to place money on a bet that you have chosen one of the following:Pareto Chart: Learn How to Choose a Time-Saving Path to Executive Career Change Success

  • Building a network
  • Figuring out what to say to your network
  • Identifying the right role for you
  • Describing the kind of company in which you want to work
  • For the most confused among you, figuring out the right industry for your new career path

As you can see, all of these questions need to be answered before you can embark on the resume writing process. Because a resume is a document with direction, you can be sure that if you don’t know where you are going, you absolutely will never get there–unless you have the right level of support and help.

As part of our executive career success strategy, we take a hard look at the most difficult aspects of the process, and we help you design a path to resolving the biggest questions first, Pareto chart-like style.

If you happen to believe that the hardest part of your executive career transition strategy is organizing your thoughts around what to do next, what to tackle first, or when you should engage an executive resume writer, don’t hesitate to call me. I am happy to help.

Cut the Mental Clutter: Believe in Your Executive Career Success

Cut the Mental Clutter: Believe in Your Executive Career Success

We all get bogged down by the daily demands of our jobs–so when busy executives need to add job search to their list of things to do, no wonder they can get frustrated or overwhelmed. I wanted to take a moment to remind you to celebrate the things that you do succeed in, knowing that your faith in yourself might be all it takes to actualize success.

Visualize Your Success

Even if on the face of it this sounds a bit corny, visualizing your own success can change your mindset. I’m not a believer in the idea that if you simply will something to happen, then you control the outcome. But I am a great believer in de-cluttering your mental cache of musts and have-tos, so that you have the bandwidth to create your success. From an executive job search perspective, this might take the form of identifying ways to delegate to free up a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day, so you can make that phone call to a connection who just might be the right one to help you. For others, going for a run or taking the dog on a long walk to nowhere, just to clear your head and give yourself a bit of a mental vacation, might be just the thing to recharge your mind.

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

One of the hardest mental hurdles to overcome is not letting the one rotten thing that happened in a day or week crowd out the dozens of other situations in which you saved the day, made someone else’s job easier, brightened someone’s morning with a kind word, and so on. We all seem to have a terrible tendency to let the one mishap of the week destroy our self-confidence, if not our self-image. Don’t let the ever-present devil perched on your shoulder tell you how to think about yourself. Remember the good that you do and the successes you create personally and professionally–make a written list and post it on your monitor if you have to.

Recognize Where You Fall Short–But Create Action Plans to Build Yourself Up

Nobody’s perfect, and sometimes you will fall short of your goals. Maybe you feel like you didn’t quite get through to a networking contact. Perhaps you didn’t apply for a choice position before the deadline. Maybe you let your executive job search go for a week or two while you handled some pressing issues that simply couldn’t wait. These things happen, but do not beat yourself up over them. Instead, try to do a 10-second gap analysis between what you did do and what you, with 20/20 hindsight, wish you had done. Maybe you need to refine your marketing message or elevator pitch, so that you come across with more power and precision when you next reach out to a connection about your executive job search. Perhaps you need to put all of your job search deadlines in a private calendar on your phone, complete with 24-hour reminders to keep you on task. It could be that you have to put some “give” in your schedule, because your career is demanding, and you can’t possibly be in two places at once every day of your week.

Conclusion: Allow Yourself Some Breathing Room

If you’ve read this far, you probably could use some time and space to regroup, get your calendar in order, and create a plan that you feel good about. The first item on your list should always be permission to forgive yourself if you’re not speeding through an executive job search. The remainder of your list should focus on the ways you can build yourself up by creating achievable, short-term action items. In this way, you’ll find that a number of small, achievable tasks that push you through your executive job search ultimately will propel you into the executive career satisfaction you need. Always know that you have a job search partner if you need one. Call me at 801-810-5627; I’m happy to be your sounding board.

Focus Your Executive Career Transition Strategy

Focus Your Executive Career Transition Strategy

When you’re focusing on the quotidian details of your job, you hardly have time to think about the larger issues surrounding your executive career trajectory. It might be too overwhelming, too abstract, or simply not relevant to your finishing tasks a, b, and c before deadlines 1, 2, and 3. Here are some tips to help you create simple steps to advancing your career in a way that empowers you, makes you feel successful, and, more importantly, enables to believe in your own success.

Set Manageable Goals Today

The first item on your career change agenda should be to set manageable goals today. This item really has two parts: The goals need to be manageable, and you need to set them today. So stop what you are doing, take a pen and paper, and create a wish list of all the things you wish your current executive role did for you, or all the things that it does do for you that you love. Remember, delaying your decision to make a choice is also a choice, so be sure that if you are putting off making a decision that it’s for the right reasons, not because choosing to act is simply too hard.

Now examine this list:

  • Are all of these rewards possible in your current job? If not, what executive role might you be targeting next?
  • Are all of these ideal factors achievable in a reasonable time frame, assuming you put a reasonable amount of resources toward achieving them?
  • Do you believe that you are empowered on your own to achieve these goals? If not, whom might you call on among your personal board of directors to help you reach these goals?

Devise Several Sets of Plans to Achieve Your Goals

The second item on your executive career change agenda is to look critically at the goals you just established and think, broadly, about how you will layer your plans to accomplish them. For example, if one of your goals for your own executive career satisfaction is to lead a larger team, does that mean your current company needs to hire more people (an internal business decision), or do you need to look outside your company for a role that gives you this opportunity? If the former, with whom do you need to speak to start building a business case to grow your team? If the latter, what executive job offer would be so compelling that you couldn’t ignore it? Could you define this role more clearly? If you can define it, are you ready to set that level of change in motion? Knowing how you will plan for various outcomes of your research can help you establish a series of steps that won’t overwhelm your busy schedule.

Overall, plan for your executive career change in several layers–what you can do today, what you can achieve in the medium term, and what you need to do to ensure that you reach your long-term goals. Also think about what you can do on your own to achieve your goals and what will require you to involve others who can support your goal-achievement strategy.

Find a Sounding Board to Test Your Logic and Help You Move Forward

If you’re working through this exercise, you might be finding that you don’t have answers advance your decision-making process. Don’t be afraid to call on your personal board of directors, including a career coach if necessary, to help you take your questions apart and build a plan that will help you win the executive career that supports your specific aspirations.

10 Common Fears that Hold Back Successful Executive Career Growth

10 Common Fears that Hold Back Successful Executive Career Growth

Executives whom I have coached through complex career changes are among the strongest, most fearless individuals I have met in my career. They lead large teams. They put innovative products to market. They guide budgets in the millions if not hundreds of millions. In a word, they are powerful, interesting individuals who overcome meaningful professional challenges every day.

Whether these executives know exactly what they are seeking in a new role, or whether they are truly exploring the many options before them, and as daring as each of these leaders are, they often share a number of fears about the career change process. If your blood pressure rises slightly at the thought of one or more of these common fears about career change, you’re certainly not alone, as unique as your career situation might be.

Fears about Getting Started in an Executive Job Search

1. Fear of having to make a choice to leave a “good enough” situation at work.

2. Fear of walking the career transition journey alone without someone with whom you can be brutally honest.

3. Fear of adding more stress to days that already have 25 hours of distractions.

4. Fear of having to network to find the right role–especially for introverts.

5. Fear of adding One. More. Thing. to today’s to-do list.

6. Fear of writing a resume (or gnawing feeling that you don’t have the right resume).

7. Fear of having the boss find out (note: Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to announce it).

Fears about Not Getting Started in an Executive Job Search

8. Fear of showing up to the same job again on Monday.

9. Fear of wasting time by inaction today.

10. Fear that the right job is out there, waiting for you, but someone else snagged it first.

Do any of these resonate with you? I would guess that if none of these strikes a chord with you that you’re not really ready to engage in a career transition, as you haven’t thought deeply about how their answers inform your wants and needs in a future career. Without that type of thinking, although you will of course continue to be successful, you won’t be as insightful about your own process as you could be. Neither will you challenge yourself to grow.

But if your blood pressure is just a little higher right now than it was when you opened this article, then there is opportunity for you to offload some of that anxiety. In fact, this expert would consider it an honor to be privileged with your trust. At the same time you can get some real clarity about your goals and fearlessly seek out and achieve the executive career opportunities that you know are right for you.


Write Your Own Headline to Jump Start Your Executive Career Change

Write Your Own Headline to Jump Start Your Executive Career Change

Nobody Has Time to Listen Anymore

If I am right, you barely have time to read this blog post. You’re busy, you’ve got work to do. I respect that.

Hiring executives have the same problem. They don’t have any spare time, either. So as you approach the executives who can help you throughout your job search, you’ll come up against their time crunches. You have to convince the hiring executive that you’re the one for whom they should put their calendar on hold to speak with you or meet you in person. But we know that you’re an expert with a great reputation in your industry, and you’re being tapped for a great position. Let’s assume, then, that you are meeting with this key executive.

Knowing what you do about busy executives—after all, you’re a busy executive yourself—how do you make this meeting easy for your contact? You keep it brief, at least until you’re challenged to expand on the assets you bring and the accomplishments you’ve demonstrated.

“Hello. Nice to meet you. Why don’t you tell me about yourself.”

This is the deadliest question, and your answer can make or break your interview—almost before it starts. The more succinct you are in answering this question, the more likely you will be called on for additional details. Therefore, you need to prepare this message, your mission, and your value proposition ahead of time, long before you get the question—because no doubt you will get the question.

To develop your core message or “elevator pitch,” as it so often is called (although the typical elevator ride is bound to be longer than the time you should spend delivering your speech), explore the following:

How Do You Label Yourself?

Tell me who you are in 10 seconds or less. Alternatively, tell me who you are in three bullets. I know that this is a tough exercise, particularly the first time you try it, but I’m confident that you’ll hone it to perfection in plenty of time for that important interview or networking event. Consider the answers to the following questions, which might help you uncover your core message:

  • What is your current job title?
  • What do you aspire to do?
  • In what industry do you aspire to do it?
  • What is your noble purpose?
  • What is a representative example of the type of contribution you make?

Are you getting closer to the 10-second mark? I will bet that you are.

How Would Others Label You?

If you’re still stuck for a self-description, imagine what your executive leader, your co-workers, or your subordinates might say about you. For example, are you:

  • Compassionate?
  • Visionary?
  • Technologically savvy?

Have you reached the 10-second mark? If so, job well done. Now you need to practice it. I heard one theatre coach suggest that an actor doesn’t really remember his lines until he can recite them while doing jumping jacks. While I don’t suggest that you either play a part or prepare yourself in a cardiovascular sense, the premise remains a logical one. You should be able to recite your 10-second pitch in any context, under any circumstances, with confidence, strong inflection, and a smile.

Take some time to practice. If you’re still struggling about what to say or how to say it, you can always ask for help. After all, “I’m a career search strategist who markets executives for choice positions better than they do.”

For Immediate Release: Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters e-Book

For Immediate Release

Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters e-Book

Now Available on Kindle

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (February 25, 2013). Five Strengths Career Transition Experts, Salt Lake City, UT, is proud to announce that Amy L. Adler, CEO, published Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters on in Kindle format.

Amy L. Adler, first-place winner of the Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Award for Best Executive Resume, announced today that she has published Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters. This concise, inexpensive, and accessible e-book contains Adler’s top-secret techniques for determining your next job and writing the resume that gets you there. This new e-book promotes the best career transition strategies and the most powerful resume writing techniques available.

Six interactive worksheets give every reader the chance to implement Adler’s strategy right away. Job seekers who need to identify the right job titles, the right resume formats, and the right cover letters to win interviews need to read this book. Says Adler, “The economy is tough. If job seekers are unemployed, or underemployed, they need access to the right techniques that will give them the same chance to achieve the interviews they need. This e-book levels the playing field.”

Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters
Only $0.99 at

Bloggers: Ask for a free review copy.

About Amy L. Adler

Amy L. Adler, MBA, MA, CARW is the founder and CEO of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. She won first place in the TORI Awards 2012 for Best Executive Resume. Amy is one of the most experienced career transitions experts in the nation and frequently writes and speaks on career advancement, executive résumé writing and interview strategies. Having written hundreds of job search documents, several examples of her work have been published in Gallery of Best Cover Letters, 4th Ed. (David F. Noble, JIST Publishing, 2012).


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For interviews and media appearances, contact Amy L. Adler
2180 East 4500 South, Suite 150 | Holladay, UT 84117 | +1 (801) 810-JOBS |

Show Pride and Humility in Your Executive Resume

Show Pride and Humility in Your Executive Resume

Updated February 2017

I am constantly amazed at the level of success of the executive job seekers with whom I work on a daily basis. They run companies. They drive sales. They lead international teams. They are among the smartest I have met with respect to technology. They are rightfully proud of what they have done. Yet, down to a person, they are among the most humble people I have ever met. By infusing their executive resumes with this pride and humility, they prove they are true leaders in their industries without coming across as boastful and overblown.

Here are three statements I hear all the time from my executive resume clients. By elaborating on these into compelling accomplishment stories, you can demonstrate both your pride in your leadership and your knowledge that you are only as good as the amazing team you develop and lead into the fray:

  1. “It was my great team who really did it; we all worked together.” Executive leaders rarely deliver at the individual contributor level. They do understand, however,  that the team cannot succeed without their unifying leadership. Therefore, rather than going on about their individual tactical role, they rightfully focus on how they guided the team to larger goals.
  2. “I have an uncanny ability to hire the right people and place them throughout the company where they can do the most good.” By demonstrating your insight into which people are right for your organization, you achieve two goals. You show that you are wise to the larger industry, and you demonstrate that you can read people very well. Include details in your executive resume about your hiring strategy and the way you assess future team member.
  3. “I always hire people who are smarter than I am.”In truth, this is my favorite one. Nobody likes to work for a paranoid organization, and when an executive leader state outright that they are willing to hire team members who have particular expertise or savvy that they don’t, it demonstrates a healthy mix of fearlessness and pride.

In short, you should not afraid to recognize the fact that you are the team leader but not always the smartest guy in the room. It’s a big leap to embrace this mindset, especially when, in your early career, you were always hungry for the next win. Now, as a wiser, more tempered executive leader, if you’re smart, your executive resume will show that much of the credit also goes to a rock star team. In doing so, your ability to guide a group to a successful outcome shows you honor your company and each individual on the team. Effectively communicating your talents and value with humility and pride on your executive resume is bound to win the attention of like-minded hiring leaders in your target companies.

How do you struggle to communicate or market your executive value?

A Thanksgiving Day Treat: The Turkey, and Sweet Gratitude

A Thanksgiving Day Treat: The Turkey, and Sweet Gratitude

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and everyone I know is scrambling to fill their larders with staples and treats that remind us of how grateful we ought to be for what we have and what our futures promise. In this post I want to remind my executive job seekers to fill their own larders with the staples they need to succeed in what promises to be a very busy job search season. I’ll wrap up by reminding everyone out there to take a moment and express their gratitude to those who have helped them throughout the year as they build their job search strategy.

The Basics that Support Your Executive Job Search

Just as we are all scrambling to the grocery store, the butcher, and the bakery to buy all the things that we need to make this Thanksgiving holiday the happiest ever, you also need to build up your stores as you continue your executive job search. Overall, you will need a smart strategy, a rich executive portfolio, and your own go-to-market strategy for impressing your interview board. These are non-negotiables. You wouldn’t think of having a family Thanksgiving without turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, and apple pie. Don’t leave any of the critical elements of your job search strategy out, thinking that you will have the same experience as those who have prepared effectively. Don’t know where to go for these necessaries? There are so many professionals out there who can help you create the portfolio you need. Some of them are executive resume writers. Some are executive career coaches. And some are your personal Board of Directors – those individuals on whom you rely for expert advice on all things professional. Overall, don’t forget the essentials, and you won’t go wrong.

How to Give Thanks

Have you ever opened your e-mail to discover that one of your colleagues wrote you simply to say “thank you” for something you have done for them? It’s a rare and gratifying experience. Make it a point this season to send that kind of message to those in your personal and professional lives who have offered you something valuable.

These kinds of overtures can have two resounding effects. First, a wisely timed thank you letter reminds the addressee that you are truly grateful for what they did or how they helped you. Remember, this doesn’t just mean a letter to your interview board telling them about your value and how you can fix their pain. It means that in the day-to-day, you have people in your circle of influence who need to hear that you are grateful for the ways they have helped you achieve your goals. There is no payback for this kind of letter—except the good karma and goodwill that real gratitude demonstrates.

On the other hand, there are subtle benefits that come along with these expressions of true thanks. They reopen lines of communication, especially if your letter of thanks inquires about their situation or needs. These renewed conversations often have unanticipated future benefits, not the least of which is simply keeping your network open and available. Of course, this is not your primary motivation in reaching out to someone who has helped you over the course of the year, but it is a nice side benefit, and doing it early in the holiday season avoids having your message get lost in the upcoming holiday rush.

A Personal Note of Thanks from Me

Now, a personal message from me. I have had the most amazing 2012. I completely rebranded my business, worked with the most amazing clients I have ever had the chance to meet, wrote a lot of resumes and cover letters for them, and won first place in a national resume writing competition. I am grateful for all of these.

The sweet gratitude I feel during this season also is for each of the like-minded career management professionals with whom I have worked over the year. Some I met through Career Directors International, and some I met through The National Resume Writers Association, and some in this industry have been my friends in other contexts for decades. You all know who you are. You enrich my life personally and professionally every single day. I wouldn’t be “right” without you, and I am grateful and thankful to know each and every one of you.


More on the Thanksgiving theme:

Dawn Rasmussen of Pathfinder Writing and Career Resources, “Don’t Be a Job Search Turkey!”

Rosa Vargas of Career Steering, “The Perfect Holiday Job Search Recipe”

Salt Lake City Executive Resume Writer #1 in the World

Salt Lake City Executive Resume Writer #1 in the World

International TORI Competition 2012

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (October 23, 2012). Five Strengths Career Transition Experts, Salt Lake City, UT, is proud to announce that Amy L. Adler, CEO, has captured first place in the 2012 Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) competition for Best Executive Resume.

Amy L. Adler, CEO of Five Strengths, earned first place standing in what many call the toughest category–Best Executive Resume–in the 2012 TORI Awards. This win reinforces Amy’s excellence in executive resume writing, a unique skill honed over years and matched with a strong professional business background.

Says Amy, a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, upon placing first in the Best Executive Resume category, “Winning first place in an executive resume writing competition honors the years of work I have invested in my skills and in my company, Five Strengths.” For this particular executive resume, Amy developed a unique approach, combining the most effective aspects of a resume and an executive biography to market the candidate in a compelling way.

According to Amy, executive resume writing is a collaborative process that elicits the best of leaders’ professional accomplishments and crafts them into a career portfolio that markets them better than they can on their own. Often, executives prefer to engage an expert resume writer, much the same way they might hire a consultant to provide services for their business or to their leadership team, saving time and eliminating the frustrations associated with the executive career transition process.

About the TORI Awards

The TORI Awards recognize excellence in professional resume writing and are presented annually by Career Directors International (CDI). The stringent TORI competition draws hundreds of entries each year from professional resume writers across the globe. CDI is the industry’s premier professional association and maintains more than 500 members.

About Amy L. Adler

Amy L. Adler, MBA, MA, CARW is the founder and CEO of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Amy is one of the most experienced career transitions experts in the nation and frequently writes and speaks on career advancement, executive resume writing, and interview strategies. Having written hundreds of job search documents, several examples of her work have been published in Gallery of Best Cover Letters, 4th Ed. (David F. Noble, JIST Publishing, 2012).

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For interviews and media appearances, contact Amy L. Adler

2180 East 4500 South, Suite 150 | Holladay, UT 84117 | +1 (801) 810-JOBS |

Executives, There Is No Such Thing as “Not Part of the Interview”

Executives, “There is no such thing as ‘not part of the interview’.”

In just the last week, we heard on the news two stories about high-profile people and their inadvertent publicizing of more or less private information. In the case of Duchess Kate Middleton, compromising photos of her were leaked to the media. Clearly she must have thought she was completely alone when these photos were shot. She could not have believed that her very public persona would go unnoticed no matter where she was or what she was doing. Similarly, the campaign of presidential candidate Mitt Romney discovered that a speech he gave was recorded when it should not have been. Whether you agree with his conservative approach or not does not discount the fact that as a public person, he should have been aware that he is always under scrutiny. And whether you believe that a newlywed can or should behave any way she wants privately doesn’t discount the fact that the Duchess should be aware of what she’s doing all the time due to her high profile.

The same is true in the executive interview. Let me tell you another story, a very personal one. Two decades ago, when I had just finished a master’s degree program, I was in job search mode. I had achieved an interview for a job that I was interested in, and was sitting before the hiring executive. He asked me all of the usual interview questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. He also asked me something tangential, I believe about my thesis and the way I did the data analysis. He post-scripted this question with “This is not part of the interview.” Without thinking I knee-jerk responded with, “There is no such thing as ‘not part of the interview.'” I suppose I also answered the question about the data analysis. I didn’t get that job–in fact I got another one that I was much better suited for. But I never did forget, and I have repeated many times, that there is no such thing as not part of the interview.

When you are applying for an executive position, you will have to go through many interviews. You’ll interview with executive boards, CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, potential colleagues, and even subordinates. You walk through the company’s hallways, you’ll sit at desks, in conference rooms, in lobbies, and maybe even in restaurants. None of these locations are private, and none of the people with whom you interview are obligated to remain quiet about your conversations. Even if your executive interviewer suggests that your conversation will remain private, he or she has no obligation to remain circumspect about what you say. In fact, the more inflammatory your comments are the more likely someone will repeat them in the form of gossip about your level of professionalism or in the form of a polite letter declining to evaluate your candidacy further.

Thus, it makes sense for you to measure every word and sentence that you utter not only from the perspective of your executive accomplishments and your executive role, but also by the dimensions of whether you are comfortable with your words being repeated by people you don’t know well to people you don’t know at all. Here are a few guidelines for you as you move through your executive interview:

  • Treat everyone you meet professionally, including administrative personnel. You might even earn some goodwill points by writing a quick e-mail to the receptionist to thank him or her for the kindness shown to you on the day of your interview.
  • Do not let your guard down during your interview, no matter how comfortable you feel with the interviewer. This might be especially true if you know one of the panel members well. That person is not your friend in this context: That person is evaluating you the same way he or she is evaluating every other candidate that walks into similar interviews.
  • If you are asked and uncomfortable for even the legal question, be prepared either a) to answer the question as asked, or b) respectfully decline to answer it based on its level of appropriateness. Do know, that if you answer an illegal question you open up a tremendous can of worms and the opportunity for your interviewer to probe the issue more deeply.

In conclusion, remember that as an executive in an executive interview you are as famous as Mitt Romney and Kate Middleton. You are on stage and being evaluated at every turn. Anything you do can and certainly will be used against you. By monitoring your behavior and behaving like the professional executive that you are, you can avoid being caught saying something you can’t defend or doing something you wish you hadn’t. Remember: There is no such thing as “not part of the interview.”