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Even when you’ve been through more interviews than you can remember, job interviews don’t necessarily get any easier. With each interview, you meet new people, selling yourself and your skills, and often things get to the third degree about what you know and don’t know. It can be even more challenging when interviewing with a top-level executive. Sometimes, the best way to prepare for a scenario like that is to imagine the most extreme case. What if you had a job interview with someone like, say, Tim Cook of Apple?
Tim Cook isn’t just any top-level executive. You need to consider that Apple is the company with the largest market share in the world. And since Cook became the CEO in August 2011 after the death of Steve Jobs, the company’s market capitalization has grown by more than $1 trillion. In 2017, Apple released iPhone X, which sold at US$999, making it the most expensive device in its market. As you can rightly guess, it can be difficult to please such an achiever in a job interview.
But it’s not impossible. We’ve identified common questions you’re likely to encounter in an interview with someone like Tim Cook, and prepared answers to give you a heads up if you ever find yourself in an interview with a tough nut to crack like him.
“What superhero would you be and why?“
This is a tricky question that seems easy. But it’s really significant in making a first impression. The concept of a superhero tests an individual’s strengths. A superhero is associated with character and strength. A good answer should define your strengths. One answer could be Tony Stark, because he’s tech-savvy, and also made an impact through innovative and creative ideas that changed the world. Your character should match the type of personality the company requires to fit the organizational culture.
Answer this question carefully. Many people miss out on opportunities by focusing on getting the job rather than why they wanted the job in the first place. Tim Cook may ask this question to get a sense of your purpose. Many people jump in to give their experiences and how well they would contribute to the growth of the company. However, the best answer should be a response to what drives you, your passion, and interests. Tim Cook is the kind of CEO that values creativity and dynamic diversity of thought. If you can introduce something logical and good that does not exist; you can get a yes.
“Sell me an android device.”
This would be an unexpected blow if you were not ready for the intense part of the interview. In this exercise, you’re in an interview a Apple – why is he asking you about Android?
But you shouldn’t be surprised if a smart interviewer asks you about this. Any solid sales candidate should have an intimate understanding of the competitive landscape in which they’re working. That includes knowing the strengths of their competitors’ products, and how competitors convey value props. This exercise is a great way for tough interviewers to test that skill.
“Do you feel performance should be rewarded over experience?”
Today, the employment landscape is shifting as demonstrated past achievements become more important, in hiring and promoting, relative to experience. The traditional compensation structure favored experience over performance (and to an extent, especially in sales, still does). This question is an attempt to learn how you perceive your performance and also what measure of the compensation would satisfy you. It also tests your ability to think critically about arising matters. The best way to answer this question is to discuss your thoughts on the matter freely giving examples if necessary. A bonus is to focus on the success of the company, which would ultimately translate to employee success.
“Tell me about a time when you met with a group of people to form an alliance.”
Teamwork is a crucial element in Apple’s organizational culture. It’s no wonder that Tim Cook would ask this in an interview. This is the time to tell an interesting story that showcases your ability to lead and be led. The best answer should show your capacity to work with others in a diverse setting. Tim Cook believes in team effort. This is reflected in Apple’s organizational culture, where teamwork is defined by being able to deliver your part without fail and to lead. Teamwork at Apple is also about diversity, creativity, and innovation. If you can tell of a moment in time where these three converge, you can get a yes from Tim Cook.
Bonus: How would you define your marketing and sales aptitude?
This is one more question that many Top-shelf CEOs would ask. This question not only puts your skills to the test, but also tests your confidence in the things that you say you can do. The best answer to this question is to affirm that you always give your best in every circumstance.
As Tim Cook once said, “It’s about finding your values, and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.”