This case study is part of the The Quintessential Careers Executive Interview Case Studies, which take you through the interview process as seen through the eyes of executives and covers some of the unexpected contingencies, demands, and developments that can occur during a series of executive interviews. Return to the main page of the Quintessential Careers Executive Interview Case Studies.
As told to Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
“Wayne Braverman” had spent six years in management consulting, managing projects of all sizes and with companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, when an opportunity came up with the customer business solutions unit of a large, multi-national beverage manufacturer, where he would have the opportunity to “help build an organization, utilize my background and skills, and work with an environment that was constantly growing and changing.”
Braverman’s entire career had been in management consulting, so this opportunity represented the first time he had considered changing industries. “I was passionate about consulting, and at the same time, I felt that I needed to get some ‘industry’ experience and not just follow the standard process to [become a] partner within the consulting world,” Braverman says. “This was an opportunity to help build a new organization, work with an amazing team, and expand my skill set.”
Description of interview process: To prepare, Braverman researched the company, identified the key players who might know something about the role and team, and spoke to them prior to the interview so he could go into the interview sessions with as many facts as possible. The prospective interviewers also provided considerable material about the organization, team, culture, and more, Braverman says. “At the same time, I outlined my own personal brand on paper and with my resume created a ‘Wayne Braverman package.'”
The series of interviews Braverman underwent comprised a mix of case questions and situational questions. A number of questions, he recalls, delved into his change of industries, revolving around adapting to a highly political environment that was different from consulting. “I expected these questions and had given a great deal of thought to the career transition – pros and cons,” Braverman says.
Braverman made sure he was knowledgeable about the new industry, but he also used his outsider status to his advantage. “In large industry-centric organizations, hiring external ‘non-system’ individuals can at times be a challenge,” Braverman acknowledges. “Knowledge of the consumer-packaged goods industry and the organization were critical to the position, and at the same time, this was an opportunity for the organization to bring on fresh thinking and new ideas in a role that did not require 100 percent knowledge of the organization on Day 1.”
To sell the employer on the idea that his qualifications would transfer to the new sector, Braverman outlined his experience in leading projects related to the skill set required in the position for which he was interviewing. “I outlined my personal brand, career goals, and aspirations, reasons that I felt the role was a solid fit, value that I felt I would bring to the organization, and I did a lot of listening,” he says.
Braverman also asked about the culture, the team, career-growth options, and potential for professional and personal development. “I asked about opportunities for ‘entrepreneurial’ thinking vs. ‘system’ thinking,” he recalls.
Outcome: Fortunately Braverman felt he truly clicked with his interviewers and experienced a connection. He received and accepted the offer.
Lessons learned/What the candidate would do differently if faced with the same situation: “If I were leaving one industry for another today,” Braverman says, “I would certainly do as much industry research as possible to understand the macroeconomic trends affecting the industry as well as the organization-specific strategies, objectives, and measures. Title is important, but not nearly as important as the culture, people, role, and responsibilities.”
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.