Emerson: Interviewing advice for young executive candidates

We were privileged to hear from Emerson’s CEO, David Farr, during our 50th annual Orientation Program & Career Forum in June. Emerson is a global Fortune 500 company and a longtime partner of The Consortium. It’s recognized as a positive workplace for women engineers by Women Engineer magazine this year, and — for the fourth consecutive year — as a global innovator by Thomson Reuters.

We asked Steve Pelch, Emerson’s senior vice president for organizational planning and human resources, for insights and advice to young executives looking at corporate leadership positions.

What advice would you offer candidates about doing due diligence on employers?

First, decide whether you looking for a career with a company or a job with a company. While it sounds simple, it can set the tone for the conversation. Oftentimes, you need to look inward first, deciding on what type of role or industry you most desire. Be honest with yourself. Prior to the interview, get a wide range of perspectives, besides what is on the internet. Speak to alums, current employees, past employees, customers, suppliers, analysts…

What sets some interviewees apart in this area?

At Emerson, we look for strong leaders — of all types. We value both deep functional expertise and broad talent and potential. Know yourself and the needs of the company. We look for people who are driven, competitive in nature, with a thirst to succeed and lead. We also want to make sure there is a proper fit between the needs and wants of the interviewee and the company culture. In the end, it does no one any good to try to force-fit a situation when the needs and wants of the interviewee and company climate do not align.

What mistakes do interviewees make when they talk about themselves or their knowledge of the company?

There is a balance to be struck between doing your homework and researching a company prior to the interview; not being prepared, or having put forth no effort prior to the interview is, more often than not, a showstopper for me. Similarly, simply reciting facts and figures from the website does not demonstrate knowledge or interest. Try to identify the intersections between the company’s needs and your relevant skills. Identify where you see yourself excelling, or even what intrigues and is of interest to you. Let this guide your conversation.

Conversely, what makes an exceptional candidate stand out?

The proper blend of IQ and EQ. In today’s world, while being smart (IQ) may be the price of admission, a candidate must possess and display the requisite emotional competencies (EQ) as well. These could include self-awareness, assertiveness, communication, empathy, teamwork, etc. Be prepared to answer questions such as: What sets you apart? What are your towering strengths? Why would you be the best candidate to join the company? Be confident and show pride in sharing your achievements and strengths, but never lose sight of your humility.

PICTURED ABOVE: Steve Pelch, Emerson’s senior vice president for organizational planning and human resources, opening the first session at the 2016 Orientation Program in June.