Depending on the position and the company's structure, interviewing with a company's vice president will probably include talking more about the organizational culture than whether your grade point average is above the minimum to qualify for the job. Your interview may test your appreciation for organizational hierarchy, among other things, and your knowledge of the corporate structure can shed light on how well you will understand your role.
You'll naturally wear a suit to your interview with the vice president, but you might be surprised to find her wearing casual attire. This could simply be happenstance, meaning the vice president always dresses casually. On the other hand, it could be an intentional move to get you to relax and be yourself, or to gauge how you interact with someone who's purposely being informal while you're required to take on a formal approach to the interview.
The vice president's questions will likely be less structured than your previous questions. For example, in your preliminary interview and your interview with the manager you'd be reporting to, they probably asked questions that test your job knowledge and expertise. The vice president might focus on your professional traits like work ethic, whether you collaborate with others and how well you handle stressful situations. The interview itself is a test to measure your ability to withstand stressful situations or interactions with people whose position or power could be intimidating.
The types of questions you ask the vice president reveal several factors that affect your suitability for the job: whether you researched the company, your industry knowledge, how you prioritize your career aspirations and, importantly, the contributions you will make to the organization. During your interview, you'll be expected to ask questions -- don't expect the vice president to carry the interview. This meeting is a real shot at having a conversation instead of a one-sided interview where you respond to a series of behavioral and situational interview questions.
Interviewing with a vice president might seem like the final step in the hiring process, but it could simply be a formality, meaning the hiring manager doesn't need a green light from the VP to finalize the decision. Even if you haven't received a conditional job offer yet and you're the only candidate meeting with the vice president, it's probably safe to assume that an offer is forthcoming. The vice president's assumption may be that when you receive an offer you're prepared to accept it. Based on her assumption, use forward-thinking terms and language during your meeting as if you're ready to take on the job's responsibilities, without appearing too presumptuous or overly confident.
- The Ladders: What to Expect on a Second and Third Interview
- Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College: Ask the Right Questions; Get the Right Job - Questions You Should Ask a Prospective Employer Before You Take That Job
- University of North Florida: Department of Management: Chapter Three - Fundamentals of Organization Structure
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.