ceo interview questions

We are accustomed to any number of conventional interview questions, and everyone has their favorites. But many shrewd CEOs and executives are digging a little deeper, looking beyond what they see in a job candidates’ executive profiles, resumes and cover letters. They are asking some very unusual interview questions designed to reveal more of your personality and ensure you are the perfect fit for their company.


“What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?”

— Ashley Morris, Capriotti Sandwich Shop CEO


Of course, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s simply a fun question Morris likes to ask to see how a candidate will respond under pressure. This gives him a feel for how effectively they react without prior thought or planning, as well as insight into their moral compass and whether they will fit into the company’s culture.


“What’s your superpower … or spirit animal?”

— Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO


Holmes feels the response he gets to this question gives him a greater understanding of a candidate’s work habits, beyond what’s seen on an executive’s profile.


“On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?”

— Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO


One of the reasons Hsieh likes to ask this quirky question is to ensure the candidate is a good fit for the casual culture of Zappos. According to Hsieh, whose company values include fun and a little weirdness, it’s not really important what number you choose, unless it’s at the extreme end, such as one or ten. Whereas a one might indicate you are too conservative for his company, a ten, on the other hand might show a tendency toward being a little too weird for them.


“Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.”

— Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder


Co-founder of PayPal Thiel values those who are not afraid to say what’s on their minds. He finds this question, though uncomfortable, helps him see how courageous a candidate can be in discussing something that may be in direct opposition to the interviewer’s opinions.


“What was the last costume you wore?”

 David Gilboa, Warby Parker co-CEO


What the candidate remembers wearing isn’t a problem. It’s more about making sure they fit in with the eyewear retailer’s relaxed environment. With core values that include adding “fun and quirkiness” into everything they do, Warby feels that even the most capable candidate would be a mistake to hire if their work style was not a good fit.


“Tell me about your failures.”

 Jenny Ming, president and CEO of Charlotte Russe (former chief executive of Old Navy)


Resumes and cover letters don’t show failures, only successes. Ming feels this question is a good test of how willing the candidate is to take a risk, and being honest enough to acknowledge when things don’t go right. The example could come from either personal or business life. What’s important is how the person handled the failure and how they overcame or moved forward afterward. The clothing store executive says the responses give her insight into how willing the candidate is to admit when something goes wrong.


So, to prepare, you might want to start thinking about what your super power or weirdness level is so you are ready for your next interview.




should you use your middle initial professionally?

I used to know a man who always used his middle initial. Even a quick note would be signed with his name & that middle initial. After a while, it started being a bit of a joke, but it isn’t a bad idea to use your middle initial professionally because middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance according to a research study in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

That study found that people think an author is more intelligent if there is a middle initial; more middle initials in an author’s name look smarter still. How does this play out in the working world?

Think About The Impact Of Your Name

Your name affects your brand — the overall impression people have of who you are. Think of this name: William Henry Gates III. He sounds like a different guy than W.H. Gates, who sounds like a different guy than William H. Gates, who sounds like a different guy than Bill Gates. One of the richest guys in the world doesn’t need to use his middle initial because he has achieved a brand recognition for his ‘everyday’ label. But should you?

One of the advantages of using a middle initial is the clarification of who you are. When you are applying for that job and your name is John Smith, using a middle initial helps identify which John Smith, John Q. or John W. It also can help when you set up your professional email address. On your resume, using your professional name — with that middle initial — has been proven to make you look smarter according to that study mentioned above.

Saving the nicknames for a more casual setting in the workplace is usually a good idea because here you are developing a different sort of network. There’s usually a dynamic in each workplace that will determine how casual your name can be without losing the impact you hope to have. Names create images, and your brand is nothing but image if you think about it.

What if your name is not as professional-sounding as you’d like? Here’s where those initials can be career-savers. If your name is Pinky Baby Johnston and you want to be taken seriously as an account manager, P.B. Johnston sounds a lot more like someone a client would trust. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way our minds work.

lying execs


Lying on your resume has always been taboo, but it’s a tempting prospect given the fact no one is going to check up on every little detail you claim. However, when you are putting together your executive resume bio, it’s critical to make sure every piece of information is irrefutable. Learning how resume lies have cost some executives at major companies will help you realize the importance of honesty when using an executive resume service.

Scott Thompson of Yahoo

Thompson, the former CEO of Yahoo, made a major blunder on his executive resume bio when he listed his degree from Stonehill College as a computer science degree. After all, he was applying to one of the biggest Internet companies in the world. Unfortunately, his actual degree was in accounting. Once this falsehood was discovered by an activist investor, he resigned his position in May of 2014.

Ronald Zarrella of Bausch & Lomb

To obtain his position as CEO of Bausch & Lomb, Ronald Zarrella claimed to have earned an MBA at New York University. While Zarrella did take classes at NYU, he never earned a degree there. In 2002, the company discovered this discrepancy; however, instead of firing him or requesting his resignation, they simply revoked his $1.1 million bonus for the year. He continued to hold the position until his retirement in 2008.

David Edmondson of RadioShack

Edmondson served as the CEO of RadioShack from 2005 to 2006. On his executive resume bio, he claimed to hold two degrees, including a theology degree from Heartland Baptist Bible College that requires three years of attendance. In reality, he did not hold a degree at all and only attended the heartland Baptist Bible College for two semesters. He resigned after this was uncovered.

Marilee Jones of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

One would think a prestigious university like MIT would conduct a thorough background check on their executives. However, Marilee Jones was hired as the Dean of Admissions in 1997 under the impression she held a total of three degrees. The truth is she did not have any degrees. This information was received by the university via an anonymous tip, which forced Jones to quit the position.

Jeffrey Papows of IBM’s Lotus

When IBM sought executives for its Lotus project, Jeffrey Papows applied, claiming to hold a PhD from Pepperdine University. He also stated he was a black belt in taekwondo and flew airplanes while in the Marines. Unfortunately, none of these facts turned out to be true. He resigned in 2000, not because of these lies in particular, but due to sexual harassment accusations brought by a former Lotus executive.

As you can see, lying on your resume may land the job, but once these falsehoods are uncovered, the consequences can be devastating. If you’re looking for executive resume writing services, contact us. We can help you showcase your skills without feeling the need to embellish the facts.

c level resume

Building resumes that get you hired can feel like an insurmountable task. It can be difficult to determine which information is essential and what is better left unsaid. Below are some resume “don’ts”:


If you look at resume examples for lower level jobs, you will see an objective line at the top that details the goals of the individual. When it comes to executive level resumes, however, this section is unnecessary. Applying for the job indicates your goal. Instead, consider writing an executive summary that succinctly details your achievements.

Too Many Details

In the case of resumes, less is often more. You don’t need to list every employer you’ve had since your first job. Instead, focus on only the jobs that lend skills for the job in question. Consider focusing on one or two areas in which you have made the biggest impact in your career.

Personal Information

Professional executive resume writers emphasize leaving out the personal details of your life. Your resume is not the place to list your age, personal interests, relationship status, hobbies, school GPA or other details considered personal. This includes providing a photo. You want to make the first impression in person.

Your References

If you’re used to putting your references in your resume or even including the phrase, “references available upon request,” reconsider it. If the company you are interviewing with wants to talk to references, they will ask for them without prompting.

An Unprofessional Email Address

One of the best parts of a personal email address is you can let your creativity shine. However, it’s best to make sure the email address you include in the contact information on your resume is professional. Instead of using your cutesy personal email address, set up a special account for your job hunt that includes your first name, last name, initials or a combination of these.

Current Employer Information

When you’re dealing with executive-level positions, you don’t want to be contacted at work when you’re looking for a new position. For this reason, it’s best to leave off contact information related to your current job. Likewise, it’s best to forgo listing salary information on your resume. Your goal is to promote your skills, not your monetary worth.

The best executive writing services can help you re-evaluate your resume and eliminate the unnecessary information that could cost you the positions for which you’ve applied. Learning how to create resumes that get you hired will be an invaluable tool as you make your way up the corporate ladder.

If you’re looking for professional executive resume writers to help you polish your C-level resume, contact us. We can help you start from the beginning to develop an attractive, yet concise resume, including why you would be an asset to an employer. We can also evaluate your current resume and eliminate the unnecessary details causing more harm than good as you seek the ideal career path.

10 exec qualities

To be effective in upper-level management, you need a specific set of traits.  It’s also important to exhibit these attributes through your actions, as well as the company’s executive bio and your executive profile for social media. While there are other factors affecting your abilities as a manager, displaying these traits will increase your chances of success.

1. Leadership Skills

A personal drive to lead others is a necessity for those who want to serve on the executive level. While leadership skills can be acquired traits, an innate tendency to lead will serve you better in a position of power within a company.

2. Sales Drive

Some salespeople are adept at making a pitch, while others pride themselves in their ability to close. If you want to be a successful executive, it’s best to be skilled at both making a pitch and closing the sale. As a leader within the company, you will need to sell yourself, your ideas and the business on a regular basis.

3. A Realistic Viewpoint

Having a dream and goals is important for a successful career, but a realistic viewpoint is even more critical. You need to be able to recognize what is possible and execute the required processes to achieve those goals.

4. Patience

Patience is a virtue every executive should have. You can’t expect all of your efforts to produce results immediately. Patiently waiting for the proper timing and the right resources will help you bring your business to the forefront.

5. A Broad Perspective

Keeping short-term goals in mind is essential for ensuring daily objectives are met for your company, but having a broader perspective can be invaluable. Seeing the bigger picture will help you make smaller decisions along the way.

6. Courage

When most people think of courage, they consider the risks that need to be taken to move forward. However, courage can also be defined as the strength required to stop or change direction.

7. Financial Expertise

Many businesses have a finance division to handle the day-to-day financial elements. However, many companies want an executive team that can keep the budget in mind and understand how money flow factors into the function of the business.

8. Domain Expertise

Technology has become a major component in the world of business. You should command a basic knowledge of the latest technology as it relates to your industry. Don’t forget to showcase your technical knowledge in your executive bio.

9. Honor

The dictionary defines honor as adhering to what is right. In the business world, displaying honor lends an authenticity to your management style. An honorable philosophy and actions allow you to readily connect with your team and your customers on an emotional level.

10. Perseverance

The business world is rapidly changing, which can make it difficult to keep up and stay on top. This is why the drive to keep going, even when things aren’t proceeding as planned, is important.

If you need help highlighting these personality traits in your executive profile, contact us. Our professional resume writing services are designed to showcase your best attributes, making you more attractive to prospective employers.

why isn't it cheating to hire a professional resume writer?


When someone hires a professional resume writer, they are paying for the skills that writer has, providing the facts that the resume contains, and collaborating to present their own qualifications for a particular job in an accurate light. Let’s look at these points a little closer:

Paying For Skills

In today’s job market the resume needs to pass through many filters before the person deciding on interviews even sees it. Resumes have to be written to pass those filters, whether it is the keywords a computer looks for or the spelling accuracy that catches a reader’s eye. Professional resume writers are like the industry consultants brought in to give their expert advice on specific problems and come up with effective strategies for resolution.

Providing The Facts

Any professional resume writer who doesn’t insist on using your own facts in the resume is not worthy of the title. Resumes must be factual compilations of your work history, education, skills, etc. Any falsification is asking for trouble, and a professional resume writer will refuse to do it. Their goal is to write a resume that shows what you bring to the position you are applying for; writing it in a way that gets past the filters and puts you in an interview where you can present yourself as a viable candidate.

Collaborating To Present Accurately

The top reason professional resumes are effective is because they are collaborations. It isn’t a matter of handing over a topic, getting a paper someone else wrote, putting your name on it, and turning it in. Professional resume writers get a lot of input from you before they start, ask many questions so they have all the facts, and get your approval before the process is complete. It’s a collaboration, a team-effort, and the information being presented is your own qualifications in the best light so they can be seen accurately. It’s a lot of work, and you contribute to the process.

So, is it cheating to hire a professional resume writer? Not if they truly act professionally. A professional resume writer is not pretending to be the person in the resume. They are presenting the person in the resume in the best light possible.

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