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Egon Zehnder Interview
Questions

28 Questions and Answers by
| Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.

Question 1 of 28

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?

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Egon Zehnder Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    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."

  2. 2.

    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."

  3. 3.

    With your experience as a Human Resources professional, do you have any niche areas of the field that you'd be most interested in providing consultative services in?

      As an organization that provides consulting services in Human Resources across many different industries, Egon Zehnder is looking to build a diverse pool of consultants to help clients in the many different areas of HR. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to get a sense of both where most of your experience has been in the field and also where your personal interest falls. Speak openly about both for your interviewer so they can have the best sense possible about where you fit among the needs of the company and their clients.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "As you can see from my resume, I have many years of experience as an HR Generalist and Manager where I developed a very broad spectrum of experience across payroll, hiring, performance and HR administration. In the recent four years, I have had a majority of focus in recruitment and retention for management level positions. If I were lucky enough to join the team here at Egon Zehnder, my best areas to work with your clients on would be recruitment and retention of staff. On top of those areas, I still have a great interest in performance management and I bring a great deal of experience in that realm."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "Having been an HR professional for over ten years, I feel like I would bring a great amount of experience and knowledge to your clients here at Egon Zehnder. My preferred niche to work in is total rewards, including comp and benefits. I have a multitude of experience in the administration of benefit plans, payroll systems and new compensation policy implementation. I think that this experience would pay off well for clients that are in need of a reset in these areas."

  4. 4.

    Being successful in consulting and working here at Egon Zehnder requires the ability to work effectively with Type A personalities. What are your experiences in working with this personality and how did you make the relationships a success?

      To first understand this question, it is important that you know that Type A personalities are exemplified by being competitive, motivated, organized and goal driven, among many other traits. These traits often lead to success in high level roles within organizations and your chances of working with this personality type are high. Think of a time you worked with a typical Type A personality and explain the methods you used to ensure that you had a sound and successful working relationship. Make sure that your interview walks away knowing that you can work effectively with difficultly driven individuals with high expectations.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "For the last six years, I have worked under your prototypical type A personality as my director. Being a self admitted type B, being under my new director was difficult at first. For me to be successful under her and for our relationship to flourish, I learned quickly that she liked me to regularly communicate timelines for projects and give updates when necessary as she was very time driven. As well, small talk and getting to know me personally wasn't a priority so our communications to this day are pretty succinct and to the point. In this role, I would feel very comfortable with working with high level type A's because of my firsthand experience."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "If you haven't been able to tell during my interview so far, I am a type A personality myself. My personality has helped me become very successful as a Financial Analyst. Having had formal training in the different personality types, I know that I need to take a meticulous approach when working with other type A personalities. My current team is loaded with type A's and regular communication is key in ensuring that expectations are clear and timelines are being met. If hired for this position, I would know my place in working with leaders from clients and I can easily be both cognizant of my approach and have the ability to put my desire to be in the lead aside with them when needed."

  5. 5.

    If you are hired for this position here at Egon Zehnder, what do you think the biggest hurdle for you would be from the start?

      For this question, you can showcase your research that you've done on both Egon Zehnder and the role you are interviewing for by being upfront and honest about what you feel would be the biggest learning curve for you if hired for the position and giving your plan for how you would approach this hurdle. In your answer, make sure that you highlight your skills and abilities in making a molehill out of a mountain on your way to success in this role.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "As you can see from my resume, most of my career experience is in the food industry. If fortunate enough to be hired for this position, the biggest area for learning for me would be the finance side of other industries like technology, telecommunications and healthcare. From day one, I would begin by thoroughly research the clients here at Egon Zehnder and speaking with as many industry experts that I know through business networking. While learning the ins and outs of other industries is the biggest learning curve for me, I see it as a great opportunity for me to become more proficient and effective in the work that I'd be doing for you."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "While this may sound funny to you at first, I think the biggest challenge for me from the start will be adapting to the great corporate lifestyle and culture here at Egon Zehnder. When I saw this position being open for applicants and I did my research, I was extremely excited to hear about the flexibility and openness to the ideas of your staff members. I've been working for six years in an environment that is very opposite of an open culture for new ideas and for me personally, it will feel foreign for me to bring new ideas to the team here and have them be accepted."

  6. 6.

    How did you maintain a good relationship with your most recent boss?

      The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of maintaining a harmonious relationship with those who are considered your leaders.

      If your relationship with your boss wasn't fantastic, what efforts did you take to make it better? Here are some suggestions:

      - Try to understand what your boss values the most
      - Keep your cool, even when you want to lose it
      - Anticipate their needs and stay one step ahead
      - Take leadership opportunities to show your worth
      - Adapt to their preferences

      Some basic ground rules for a stable working relationship with your boss are open communication, proactive listening, and not taking things personally. Discuss the ways that you cultivated a healthy relationship with your boss.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "My current boss is a very particular individual. Over the years I have taken the time to understand her preferences, her stress triggers, and what she enjoys seeing in my work. I find that if I stay one step ahead and maintain a positive attitude, we can work productively together."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I value having a strong working relationship with my boss. I want to learn what they do and take on as much work to help our team as possible. I scheduled regular update meetings with my boss and went the extra mile wherever I could."

  7. 7.

    What knowledge do you have of differing leadership styles and how would you work effectively with each in this role?

      People that work their way through the ranks of the business world and find themselves in high level positions can lead with many different styles. For this question, be sure to do your research on the differing leadership styles and be able to speak about specific times you have worked with leaders with that style or how you would effectively work with each style. Make sure to speak to the importance of differing leadership styles equating to the need for an individualized approach to training leaders.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have received training on working with the most common leadership styles in the sales industry: transformational leadership, transactional leadership, autocratic leadership, bureaucratic leadership and democratic leadership. I also fully understand the important characteristics and personality traits that leaders in each style display. I have some personal experience training an autocratic leader very closely on promoting teamwork within his department due to low morale. For this leader, it was important for me to personalize my approach by teaching him about his leadership style and what the pro's and con's both were. From there, my focus remained outward towards his team and their performance and how his approach could help impact that positively. Moving forward from our training, his team definitely felt a positive uptick in their morale and production."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "Having worked with leaders all across my current organization, I quickly came to realize that every leader works in and is motivated by their own unique set of circumstances. And because of those facts, it is important for me to take a personalized approach to training. I've worked with leaders that had a hard time delegating work and ruled with more of an iron fist than most others. For these leaders, a direct approach from myself as the trainer was required and a focus on the importance of teamwork and recognition were important. I've also worked with leaders on the opposite end of that spectrum that approached leadership from a very hands off perspective and were successful more on the administrative side of their roles. With these leaders, I had success in approaching training with an emphasis on establishing standards and procedures for their department and promoting their involvement with their team. I think my versatility in working with every leadership style would be an advantage here at Egon Zehnder."

  8. 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. 9.

    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."

  10. 10.

    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."

  11. 11.

    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."

  12. 12.

    What do you see as a potential hurdle you would have to overcome to be able to work with groups of high level leaders at our clients on their team development?

      The role that you are interviewing for at Egon Zehnder will put you in front of high level leaders at the clients you will be working for and you will have to possess the confidence and ability to work with them directly on team building and promotion. Dig deep to think about what you believe your biggest hurdle will be in that situation and talk to your interviewer about your plan to overcome that obstacle. Make sure that your learning opportunity promotes your insight into the role that you are interviewing and potentially points out an area of inexperience that have that you see as a great opportunity.

      Ryan's Answer

      "In talking to another employee here, I understand that this role will have me working across a pretty broad spectrum of industries and I honestly see this as the only hurdle I will have to overcome from the start. As you can see from my experience, my professional experience has strictly been in the retail industry adn this role will really push me to learn healthcare, manufacturing, sales and other industries so I can speak knowledgably to the businesses of my potential clients. I have great research skills and would utilize this skill to get to know my clients and their businesses very well if hired for this position."

  13. 13.

    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."

  14. 14.

    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."

  15. 15.

    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."

  16. 16.

    How do you stay organized and on track when working on a long-term project?

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  17. 17.

    At Egon Zehnder, we look to hire those who will be a long term fit. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

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  18. 18.

    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?

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  19. 19.

    What do you feel is the key to developing and/or operating a great succession planning program?

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  20. 20.

    In what ways would our clients here at Egon Zehnder benefit from your knowledge and services?

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  21. 21.

    Do you have experience in engaging a corporate board during a change management process?

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  22. 22.

    What types of challenges have you faced in your career with mangers/leaders when faced with a difficult recruitment effort? Do you see this experience helping you in a consulting role?

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  23. 23.

    A key component to success here at Egon Zehnder is building solid relationships with new clients. How do you effectively get to know new people and lay the groundwork for a long lasting relationship?

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  24. 24.

    Rate your communication skills from 1-10 with proper examples backing your given rating.

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  25. 25.

    With a lot of our clients here at Egon Zehnder, we introduce them to new and innovative sourcing strategies to help them hire and retain top talent in their industries. What sourcing strategies are you familiar with and most successful with?

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  26. 26.

    Talk about a time that you successfully educated another individual or group in your area of expertise. What made your educational experience effective?

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  27. 27.

    Talk about a time that you used data to your advantage during the recruitment process. How did this data lead to success?

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  28. 28.

    Being successful in the consulting industry requires adaptability and the ability to learn a business fast. What would be your approach to help you learn the ins and outs of a new client?

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