We have elections to change the direction of the country. The political candidate that does the best job in selling change usually wins.
Companies also hire for change. The Board or the CEO usually hires a candidate that best shows what he or she will change that will result in growth.
If you are not changing, you are stagnating and soon to be roadkill. Without having any ideas for change, you are just seeking power, position, prestige for its sake. You are unlikely to engender confidence that you are indeed the change agent the company is looking for.
We don't know what kind of questions Steve Jobs and the Board of Apple asked Tim Cook before making him the CEO. But the best decision Apple has ever made was hiring Tim Cook as the CEO. Jobs was right, yet again.
Jobs didn't pick Cook because he was like him, but he knew that Cook had what it took to take the company to the next level. Tim Cook has changed Apple in one significant metric that matters above all in business: Market Capitalization.
Apple's market capitalization was around $300 billion when Jobs died (about a decade ago). As of this writing, it's market capitalization hit $2 trillion. I would say that is a change Apple shareholders are happy about.
The same can be said about Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. He has been a terrific change agent. He instilled a culture of growth mindset at Microsoft, changed the way Microsoft did business with partners, and bet heavily on cloud computing for its future growth. Many of these changes have paid off, as its market capitalization will also soon hit $2 trillion.
Cook and Nadella are famous examples of change agents, but that is what is expected of those the company is counting on for growth. You must address the change question. It is a do or die question in any job interview, especially a C-Level position.
What would you change about your predecessor's policies?
David Cote, the former CEO of Honeywell, writes about this in his book "Winning Now, Winning Later." This is the question Cote asked when he was interviewing a candidate for the CFO job. By change, he meant how the candidate would build upon what the previous CFO had done. That means you as a candidate have to know what the former CFO did, but what would you change to make the company grow or keep growing. Like a Japanese locomotive pilot, you are asked to point and call before joining, so the CEO knows that you are not going to turn out to be a train wreck.
So here is what happened during the interview when this word came up.
The CFO answered he would change nothing.
Cote challenged him and asked the same question again.
Again, the candidate said he would change nothing.
Cote is getting anxious.
He said to the candidate that he will step out of the room for fifteen minutes, and if the candidate does not come up with few things he would change, he is not getting the job.
Guess what happened?
The candidate came up with eleven significant changes he would make. According to Cote, they were all excellent ideas.
The candidate got the job and went on to become an excellent CFO.
I am sure all other CEOs are probably asking this question. Without giving a lot of thought to this question, you are not likely to get the C-Level job. Companies want strategic position---choices you have to make, so company wins--- occupied by strategic thinkers. They are hard to find, and you will not know whether you made the right hire for at least two years.
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of a practical book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. You can get this book on Amazon for 99 cents for limited time. Please download the free speech checklist that you can use to help you create a winning speech for any situation.
Please contact him if you would like to have a two 75 minute coaching session on job interviewing or high-stakes speaking. If you are interested in inviting him to give a talk on job Interviewing or high-stakes speaking. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.