4 ways to avoid messing up your job interview with a CEO

Interviewing for a job with a company’s CEO can add a lot of pressure, so you’ll want to make sure you do everything you possibly can to prepare – confidence is key. Here are four ways to lessen your chances of messing up.

Get a feel for the company’s rivals

Lawrence Coburn, CEO of DoubleDutch, former CEO of RateItAll and board member for Fuzzy, writes in Mashable about questions you should pose to the CEO of a startup during an interview. One of the questions is: “Who is your competition?”

“There are a lot of companies out there claiming to be the best fill-in-the-blank technology on the market, but if there’s someone else doing it better and for cheaper, you better believe they’ll have the competitive advantage over your organization,” he writes. “The way a CEO answers this question is also a good indication of his or her level of honesty. If a CEO is cagey, uncomfortable or affronted when you ask him or her about the competition, you should be concerned.”

Don’t show up mentally empty-handed

Come up with something beforehand.

Connor Gillivan, an author, CMO of FreeeUp and CEO of Portlight, writes on his site about “how to further impress the CEO” during an interview, after exploring potential questions to ask. The post was based on a Quora question about what to ask the CEO of a startup during an interview.

“To further impress the CEO, come to the interview with your own ideas and share them if you have the opportunity. The CEO wants people on their team that have the ability to critically think for themselves and can challenge the norms in positive ways,” he writes. “A strong interest and opinion in the matters mentioned above will also indicate that you have potential to grow within the company and become a leader for the team.”

Know your personal narrative inside and out

Julia Hartz, co-founder and president of Eventbrite, writes in The Muse about how she and her co-founder typically interview candidates, showing that it’s important to have your narrative down pat.

“After we introduce ourselves, I usually start by asking the candidate to tell me his or her story (which I know is a daunting request!). Interviewees tend to search for clues, wondering where to start in their life story. What I’m really looking for is a great summary of the interviewee’s life and career, but not for just entertainment value (although I love a great story). I’m specifically looking for three things: motivation, intention, and conviction,” she writes.

Don’t even think about skimping on sleep

This can only backfire.

Indeed’s career guide shows what to do before your last interview for a job, pointing out that you could meet with the CEO if the company isn’t a large one.

“Get a full night’s sleep before your interview. Some final round interviews are drawn out over several hours as you meet with different people in the company. It’s crucial that you keep your energy level high in each conversation. Remember that it’s ok to ask for restroom breaks or a drink of water between interviews,” the guide says. “Hiring decisions are made differently at different companies and you don’t know who on the interview committee may be able to veto a decision to hire you. Treat everyone with the utmost respect and don’t let your stamina drop as the day goes on.”