The Ins-and-Outs of the C-Level Application Process

The Ins-and-Outs of the C-Level Application Process

As a c-level executive there comes a lot of responsibility. With such high level accountability on your hands the hiring process can take a lot longer. And as a senior manager, you may not be fully aware of the significant differences.

Although every company uses a variation of approaches, there a certain fundamental processes everyone will practice. Lets investigate them below.


First and foremost before we get into the nuts and bolts, the length of a c-level application is a lot lengthier than other procedures.

Impulse decisions are not made in the executive office and ensuring a company has the right candidate is paramount.

Due to this, you can expect the process to last anywhere from one month (that’s very quick and unlikely!) to anywhere around three-six months. If you’re in a job that’s fine, but this is an important consideration to factor in before you leave your job. Be prepared for a lengthy time being unemployed whilst you go through this process.

Applying Online

It is somewhat of a misleading title, because in all honesty, there are not that many c-level positions advertised online.

What I mean by that is the majority of c-suite positions are actually unadvertised left in the hands of executive search firms, headhunters or internal hiring. Compared to the amount of actual positions vacant versus the amount advertised online, it can be anywhere up to 85:15 in favour of jobs being in the “Hidden Job Market.”

It becomes paramount you have an online presence due to this. Optimising your LinkedIn profile and ensuring all of your other social media’s are up to date and have the correct privacy settings is a must. It certainly gives these executive search professionals greater confidence in putting your name forward if there is more favourable information about you.

Initial Screening

As in most cases, they will hand pick a number of likely candidates based upon their credentials in their CV and Cover Letters.

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This initial interview will be to understand who you are as a person and as an employee. Soft and hard skills, competency based questions and a brief history of your work highlights lowlight etc.

This is just the first of many interviews if you are selected to proceed further along the hiring process.

Further Interviews

Depending on the amount and quality of relevant applications in the initial screening process will depend on how many they cull into the next stages. There will most likely be two even three or four more interviews following the preliminary stages.

Although we don’t know exactly what they will ask, we can safely assume there will be a range of different topics covered during the various interview stages. Here are some of the topics we’ve found to be commonly asked:

  • Strategy – Your c-level competency.
  • Leadership – How well can you lead the organisation?
  • Scenario based questioning – for the current role or situations a c-level needs to be able to deal with.
  • Past examples – of strategy/leadership challenges.
  • Vision – Where do you want to go and take the company?

Be aware, the further you progress, the greater number of stakeholders that will be present. For example, you can expect your first interview to be with HR Managers/Directors, then people from the C-suite office, then Board of Directors etc.


As they progress down the hiring stages, the company will conduct thorough reference checks. Usually when they have narrowed it down to around 3-5 candidates. Be prepared to give your best references and ensure nothing online can tarnish your reputation.

Negotiation of an Offer

The compensation and remuneration packages take a significant amount more time and deliberation than previous roles. Due to the amount of money at stake often this process goes back and forth a few times.

Be sure to know what you are worth and how much the company is looking to offer.

What seems to be a drawn out process, they are the necessary steps a company must take to ensure they acquire the right hire.

If you would like assistance with this process, then why not seek the guidance of one of our executive coaches? Having helped 100s of executives during this progression before, they would help you prepare and convince the company you’re the right candidate.

Get in touch with us today to find out more information.

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