Demonstrating strategic thinking at interview

Demonstrating strategic thinking at interview
Published: 12 June 2018

Strategic thinking is one most commonly sought attributes in business leaders.  The ability to take a forward looking view encompassing multiple internal and external factors, and set a course of action for the business to yield the best results.   

Many people site themselves as strategic thinkers yet fail to demonstrate this at interview.  Here are a few tips to ensure the interviewer understands you have the ability to add strategic value to their business. 

  1. Think strategically.  Sounds obvious, but the interviewer will often ask you to critique their strategic plan, so prior to interview prepare.  How is their environment changing?  What can their business do to maximise opportunities?  What do they need to invest in?  Where can they restructure? How could they finance this? How are customers responding?   
  2. Talk strategically.  When discussing your past experience, concisely articulate the key challenges. How did you join the dots? Who did you need to get on board?  What was the result?  Results are key.  Businesses are looking for someone that will drive results so make sure they understand that you have done so in the past and will do this again in the future – but for them. 
  3. Demonstrate influence.  A great strategic plan needs the leadership skills to execute it successfully.  Who are the key people internally you need on board to mobilise your vision?  Externally who do you need to influence?  How have you built these relationships in the past and how have they helped you deliver your strategy?
  4. Be open to criticism. It’s unrealistic to expect that your strategy didn’t have to face challenge, resistance or even a knockback at times.  Ensure you have a few examples of when things didn’t go well and how you used your judgement to keep the strategy on track. 

Time invested in considering your future employer’s strategy and challenges and will be well rewarded at interview. Similarly spend time thinking about your own strategic results to really impress.   You’ll know when the interviewer is truly engaging with you on a strategic level.  It will feel more like a free flowing business conversation, and you might even enjoy it! 

For more information, please contact our Financial Leadership Practice.

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