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Egon Zehnder Interview
Questions

28 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brunner

Published October 3rd, 2019 | Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.
Question 1 of 28
What experience do you have working with corporate governing boards? What role have you seen them play?
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How to Answer
In this role with Egon Zehnder, you will have the opportunity to work with boards of directors with clients. As part of this duty, it is important for you to understand that boards have a unique perspective of representing shareholders or the general public in relation to the direction that the organization is moving. In some cases, board members are elected. For this question, talk about any experience that you do have in working with corporate boards and talk about your role in that interaction. Then, explain the importance that your role can play with the clients of Egon Zehnder and ensuring that corporate governance is sound and running smoothly.
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Top 25 Egon Zehnder Interview Questions
1.
What experience do you have working with corporate governing boards? What role have you seen them play?
In this role with Egon Zehnder, you will have the opportunity to work with boards of directors with clients. As part of this duty, it is important for you to understand that boards have a unique perspective of representing shareholders or the general public in relation to the direction that the organization is moving. In some cases, board members are elected. For this question, talk about any experience that you do have in working with corporate boards and talk about your role in that interaction. Then, explain the importance that your role can play with the clients of Egon Zehnder and ensuring that corporate governance is sound and running smoothly.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my current role, I have consulted with boards of directors on business ethics training. The boards that I have worked with were all very diverse, spanning across many industries and of many different sizes. Many included elected community members, union representatives and C-level executives from within the organization. While all boards I have worked with had the best financial interest of the organization in mind, the ethics training was important in ensuring that their organization was conducting business in an ethical, safe and legal manner. I am comfortable in providing training and speaking with boards of directors and would look forward to doing so with Egon Zehnder."
Ryan's Answer #2
"My experience working with governing boards falls within self-assessments and action planning for the future. The assessments I have conducted have led to helping governing boards build on their strengths, identify areas for growth and prioritizing steps moving forward to increase the boards effectiveness. During these processes, I've sat in on board meetings, conducted group and 1:1 interviews and had difficult conversations with high level leaders of organizations. The great experience I have working across the healthcare and manufacturing industries would be a huge asses to your clients here at Egon Zehnder."
2.
At Egon Zehnder, you will have the opportunity to work with high level executives and leaders from the companies we contract with. What experience do you have in working with people at these levels?
As a business advisory and consulting firm, Egon Zehnder works with Managers, Directors, CEO's, CFO's, CAO's and leaders with other titles on all of our projects. Your role will likely involve working closely with these leaders. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to hear that you are comfortable in working with the leadership team of the organization's clients by having you talk about your experience. Make sure that the examples you provide include some details on how you worked effectively to get the job done with the leaders you worked with.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my current role, I work directly under our Chief Financial Officer and sit on a couple of different committees that our Chief Executive Officer is on. Under the direction of my CFO, we have a great working relationship. I am comfortable approaching him at any moment with questions or to bring forward new ideas. He is aware of my strengths and respects my opinions on matters in my wheelhouse, so he never hesitates to come to me with important things. I think the keys to our strong relationship are the respect we show for each other and our open lines of communication."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Throughout my career, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with employees at all levels of the organizations that I've worked with. To me, working effectively with anyone requires a personal touch and a respectful approach. Whether I work with front line sales staff or members of the C-Suite, I take the time to get to know the person, their job and how I can best be of help to them in my role. This approach really helped me build a relationship with a Sales Executive that a few of my colleagues had struck out with in recent interactions."
3.
How would you go about conducting a compensation analysis for executive level positions with our clients at Egon Zehnder?
Due to the fact that a lot of organizations do not include executive level positions in their salary grades or ranges, this position with Egon Zehnder may provide the need for you to conducts compensation analysis studies for clients. Talk to your interviewer about your experience in conducting compensation analyses during your career and walk through how you would do this executive level positions. In the end, reiterate the importance of how you would obtain buy-in on this process from the clients you would be working with.

Ryan's Answer
"My first step to conduct the compensation analysis for the position would be to speak with leaders from the client and learn more about the position and the goals for the position and the eventual hire. This would enable me to effectively compare this position to currently existing positions. Then, I'd use market research that I have access to or could find to have a comparable salary. Fully understanding that executive level positions can vary greatly from industry to industry, I would use every detail possible to get the best analysis and final salary number possible. This process, when detailed to clients, would pain a clear picture for them to gain belief in the process."
4.
What interests you in joining the business consulting world here at Egon Zehnder?
Anytime the question regarding why you want to join the company is asked, it is very important to do your research on the organization and the position you are interviewing for so you can match your skills and desires to the job. In your answer here, be sure that you also speak to the potential move to a consultative type role if this will be the first time for you with a consulting organization. Be sure to highlight your qualities that make you an ideal fit for the job.

Ryan's Answer #1
"At this point in my career, I feel like I have really maxed out my capabilities in my current role as the IT Director with my current organization. Over the past two or three years, I've found so much fulfillment in my work when I've been helping others and providing education to them that I've narrowed my job search down to the IT consulting field. The prospect of helping other IT departments grow and become more efficient under my consultation is an adventure that I would love to embark on here at Egon Zehnder!"
Ryan's Answer #2
"As I've grown in my role in the Training & Education department with my current employer, I've gravitated toward leadership development and succession planning with my organization and I'd like to bring these skills to work here at Egon Zehnder as this position fits right in that mold. Using my experience and knowledge, you'll quickly find that I have a great ability to work alongside and train the top level executives with your clients in a manner that is professional and effective at the same time. My experiences in both healthcare and manufacturing sound like they'd fit well with your client base as well."
5.
What do you think is the key quality for a great business leader and how would you promote and educate this quality with our clients here at Egon Zehnder?
Business research and leadership development research has shown that there are many qualities that great leaders possess. Rather than having you rattle off all of the great qualities, your interviewer is looking to hear you speak passionately about what you feel is an important quality of a great leaders. Prior to your interview, put some thought to this question to be able to speak about why you feel this quality is important in leadership and how you would promote this quality with your clients if hired for the position.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Through my years of working with high level executives and CEO's and through all of the great publications I have read, I truly believe that vision is one of the key components of any great leader. Where many great managers know what it takes to get the job done and do a excellent job of conveying that message, a true leader has a vision for the future to drive business to new levels while also having the foresight to put that vision into action. While being a believer that having true business vision comes naturally to the right people, I have worked with leaders on reflecting on their visions and giving them the tools to help project their vision into words with their staff. I'd love to bring these ideas to the leadership development programs here at Egon Zehnder."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my experience working closely with high level leaders at the organization I've worked with during my career, I'm a believer that the promotion of teamwork and cohesiveness is one of the key qualities of successful leaders. I've witnessed to many teams and businesses fail because a leader was too stubborn to delegate work and trust others around them to help get a job done. For me, I've always stressed the importance of teamwork by promoting a trusting environment for my leaders and showing them the importance of not being the watch over your shoulder types of leaders. I have many great examples of great leaders who delegated work and entrusted their staff around them to work cohesively as a team."
6.
How do you stay organized and on track when working on a long-term project?
Working for Egon Zehnder in the role you are interviewing for will require an innate ability to manage projects from conception to final implementation. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to hear that you have the ability to maintain organization to meet deadlines and customer expectations. Talk about your personal methods for organizing project work and give any examples that you have of your methods being successful. In the consulting and advisory industry, customer satisfaction and word of mouth are integral to success and growth of a business and effective project management is key in satisfaction.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I really pride myself on my ability to multitask and my ability to stay organized in key in multitasking. For me personally, organization starts with using technology to my advantage and I do this through the use of my Outlook calendar and tasks functions. I take time each day to update my tasks and project work and use my ability to prioritize tasks to ensure that the right things are being worked on. In looking to bring these skills to long-term project work with your clients, staying organized and on task will be extremely important for the success of both Egon Zehnder and your clients."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my work, the ability to stay organized and on track comes down to having a plan of attack for each project and keeping track of the plan as milestones are hit. If you are familiar with the program Trello, it really helps me organize all of the components of the projects that I work on and give me the ability to track who is doing what, what deadlines are coming and what milestones have been hit. But even with a great program like this, I always have the ability to re-prioritize due dates and new tasks as needed with any project."
7.
At Egon Zehnder, we look to hire those who will be a long term fit. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but you need to assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long-term fit for the position at Egon Zehnder.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Ideally, 5 years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here."
Ryan's Answer #2
"5 years from now, I would like to supervise or manage a team of my own with Egon Zehnder. I feel like I am progressing in my career at a rate that will make this a possibility."
8.
For many of our clients here at Egon Zehnder, the ability to effectively negotiate executive compensation is key. What negotiating skills will you bring to our clients and what would you say your overall philosophy is regarding negotiating salary?
The process of handling the executive compensation process often involves negotiating. As Egon Zehnder gets called upon to consult with their clients, the negotiation process is likely to be a key talking point for you with clients. Talk about the skills you have developed through your career and explain how these skills would be beneficial for the clients of Egon Zehnder. As well, talk at a high level about your philosophy and practice regarding high level salary negotiation.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As an HR professional that has sat at the negotiating table of offers to CEO's, Presidents and other high level executive position, I'd bring a strong working knowledge of executive compensation to your clients. My negotiating are most often predicated on the total rewards package. Many high levels executives get lost in the one number surrounding yearly salary when benefits like pension, travel expenses and healthcare coverage get overlooked. These benefits can also be deal breakers so I always include details on these benefits in compensation conversations and negotiations."
Ryan's Answer #2
"The approach I've always taken with C-Suite executive offers is to make it a win-win situation for both the candidate and the organization. In the eyes of executive level candidates, the importance of fair compensation is important so market comp research is something I prioritize. Then, I know how to fairly negotiate for extra skills, abilities and duties that my candidate may be doing above and beyond others in a similar position. This enable me to paint the clear picture that an offer is fair and balanced for both the candidate and the organization."
9.
For our clients here at Egon Zehnder, how would you sell them on implementing a succession planning program for high level leaders in their organization?
On top of the cost of conducting an external search for the next leaders of an organization, home growing talent to get the right people with the right talent in the right positions can begin earlier than most leaders think. In your answer for this question, talk about the importance of an organization always keeping an eye towards the future, cost savings and the ability to train people in the way the organization wants them to be trained and prepared for a high level role.

Ryan's Answer #1
"To me, succession planning has so many positives with so little drawbacks that it makes total sense for an organization to implement succession planning. But high level leaders often do need some coaxing to buy into the philosophy. My selling point with an organization would be to use statistical data to point out that projected retirements over the next 10-15 are astronomical compared to the number looking to enter the workforce. Because of this face, it is more important than ever to begin planning and growing the next CEO, COO and CAO of organizations as early as possible. Shadowing opportunities and training opportunities that can take place over a time period of years versus months is very important in the business world today."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In today's modern world, every business and industry is unique and carving out their own niche markets and ways of doing business. Because of this, succession planning and the need to grow leaders from within is extremely important. I would use this as a selling point to high level leaders like CEO's and point out the fact that they could begin training their potential replacements years ahead of time with the help of HR staff and Organizational Learning staff."
10.
What do you feel is the key to developing and/or operating a great succession planning program?
The total succession planning process encompasses many different steps from planning to final implementation. Even then, once implemented, there are many keys to ensuring the program is successful into the future. However you answer this question, be sure to speak passionately and knowledgeably as to why you feel your key is one essential key to the process. Discuss how this will be an advantage for the clients that you would work with and how you would help implement the step for them.

Ryan's Answer #1
"While I consider myself an expert on the planning stages and identifying the positions that should have succession plans, I think the toughest and most crucial step for an organization in a succession planning process is identifying top talent to groom into new roles along their career journey. Understanding that my role as the consultant for your clients would be over, it would be my job to educated the clients on how to identify, train and measure successes down the road to make the program a true success."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Every good project needs a solid plan to be successful and this is no different for implementing a succession planning process. A good succession plan starts with involving leadership to identify the future needs of the business and key positions that succession planning should occur for. Another key insight towards building a great succession planning program is taking into account future growth and development of the business. With these things in mind, I can help the clients here at Egon Zehnder build solid succession planning programs."
11.
Here at Egon Zehnder, you may be asked to work on the corporate governing structure and its effectiveness for a client. How would you measure the effectiveness of a board of directors?
As people have more and more access to knowledge and information, investors, regulators and other key stakeholders are demanding high level results from the boards of most organizations. Because of this fact, many clients at Egon Zehnder seek out their services to measure the effectiveness of their boards. If you have direct experience in evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of a board, talk about that experience. If you don't have direct experience, talk about the need for evaluation to go beyond measuring if the board performed their responsibilities and dive into further measures that truly impact the organization.

Ryan's Answer #1
"If I was asked by a client to measure the effectiveness of their board, I would first seek to find out if any predetermined measures for success had been developed. If there had, we could look at calculating success in those areas as a starting point. Then, whether they had already established measures or not, I would use my expertise to delve into measuring aspects managing operations of the business and the corporate structure of the organization. These measures are often overlooked by corporate boards and are imperative to the successes of any business."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I am a firm believer that measuring a corporate governing structure must ultimately be led from within, so I would see myself as a true consultant in giving board leaders the knowledge and tools to lead a successful evaluation of their work. In my experience and work in the past, corporate governance is best measured on the following three items: how they lead, how they manage and how they contribute to the organizations success. I have steadfast measuring techniques for these items that I'd love to bring to your clients here at Egon Zehnder."
12.
HR is a continually changing field in every industry. If hired here at Egon Zehnder, how would you ensure that you stay up on new trends in the field to best help our clients that span across multiple industries?
Human Resources job duties and functions can have different nuances based on the industry that HR professionals work in. As you look to transition into a role on the consulting side of the business, you will need to be adaptive and up to speed on trends for each particular industry. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to hear that you are able to use different resources to ensure that you can just as effective in your consulting to the healthcare field as you can be to the manufacturing industry. As well, your interviewer will be paying close attention to your openness to learning the HR side of industries that you haven't worked with in the past.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As you can see from my resume, my career in HR has been centered around the customer service and retails industries and I fully realize that this opportunity will have me working with clients in a wide plethora of industries. As an active member of SHRM and a regular attendee of local and national HR conferences, I have built a great network of colleagues across many industries that I could use as a resource to get me up to speed on a new industry like manufacturing. I also subscribe and also have been a contributor to HR Magazine and I know that will be a great resource as well as I look to learn and grow in new industries in this role."
Ryan's Answer #2
"With my experience in the healthcare and mining industries on the east coast, I feel like I would come to Egon Zehnder with a very well-rounded knowledge and experience base to succeed in this role from the start. Knowing I would have to be a continual learner in this role, I would jump at any opportunity for continuing education to help me stay on top of new happenings in the HR field. Up to this point in my career, continuing ed credits have been vital to helping me gain more knowledge that I've used on the job."
13.
Do you have any experience in 1:1 coaching of business leaders? If given the opportunity to coach leaders as a consultant here at Egon Zehnder, what skills would you bring to the table?
In looking to hire staff to work with the leaders of their clients, Egon Zehnder may be considering candidates from many different backgrounds. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to hear if you have experience in working with and possibly coaching high level leaders in the business world. Talk openly about any experience that you have and, most importantly, talk about the unique skills that you would bring to the table if hired for this role at Egon Zehnder.

Ryan's Answer #1
"After obtaining my MBA, I embarked on a career path that involved organizational development and corporate training in the healthcare and manufacturing fields. During my time in the healthcare industry, I was an integral part in coaching high level leaders and did get the opportunity to do so on an individual basis. In my training and experience, I believe that the key component of individualized leadership training is that it is customized to each individual to suit their needs. I have extensive experience in evaluating skill sets and developing individualized training to work on critical leadership skills. Last year, I developed an individualized training for my organization's new Chief Nursing Officer that was centered around having difficult conversations with staff. The new leader was highly equipped with all of the great skills for the position, but lacked the ability and confidence in this necessary aspect of the job."
Ryan's Answer #2
"During my experience working with and training leaders in the manufacturing industry, I think I have a great knack for working with Type A personalities and really reaching them and their needs. I am skilled at creating desired challenges for them to help develop and hone their skills like I did a few years ago with a newly hired Chief Operating Officer that struggled with interpersonal skills. My key with him was setting challenging goals in between our meetings and the plan worked to perfection. If hired for this role here at Egon Zehnder, this ability would be key with the leaders I would be working 1:1 with."
14.
In what ways would our clients here at Egon Zehnder benefit from your knowledge and services?
This question is your chance to talk about the unique skills and knowledge that you would bring to Egon Zehnder and that is exactly what your interviewer is looking to hear. In your answer, keep your focus centered on how clients of the organization will benefit from the things that you bring to their table because Egon Zehnder is client focused in all that they do. To be effective with this answer, be sure to do your research on the clients at Egon Zehnder and think about how your experience will be beneficial for them.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As you can see from my resume, I have extensive experience in risk management in the healthcare industry. Having worked with some major players in the industry, your healthcare clients would benefit the most from the experience and solutions I could help provide them. Not to leave other industries out, I think my experience in the healthcare realm will also translate nicely to your clients in other areas of the private sector."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Having worked in accounting and tax law in a few different industries during my career to this point, I also have the unique experience of creating new organizational policies and procedures in my current role. In hearing more about this role, I think this experience would be very beneficial for your clients as I would be helping advise them in their practices and creating new policy would be crucial in that process."
15.
Do you have experience in engaging a corporate board during a change management process?
During change management processes for organizations, the board is often the biggest leverage point for making a difference in the success of a project. Ideally, your interviewer is looking to hear that you have experience in managing a change process while involving the board. If you have experience, talk in detail about the project and how you engaged the leaders on the board. If you don't have direct experience in this facet, speak hypothetically on how you would handle this situation using your experience in working with corporate governing boards.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Last year, I worked with a large manufacturer on implementing a change process to increase production for a couple of new lines of products. One part of that change management process included meeting with the company's board of directors. My role in meeting with them was discussing the resources that would be needed for successful implementation of the project. Resources included both financial and manpower, so they ultimately had to approve the details of the project for it to be a success. My approach was to focus on results of the project and they ultimately approved after one week of thought."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Involving the board of directors in a major corporate change is important for many reasons. They need to have buy-in into the end results and more often that not, they can provide some expert insight into the heart and soul of the organization that is useful. For more recent projects, presenting to and talking to the board is an initial step that I take now. A couple of months ago, I presented at a board meeting of a large healthcare organization and following my presentation, two members of the board volunteered their time to be on my project team. I considered this a huge win!"
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