Perhaps ten years ago, data-informed decision making was often siloed in departments like IT. These days, we are increasingly seeing a robust demand for data skills in every aspect of the C-suite, including CEO roles.
Interviewing executive candidates with specialized skills requires some finesse, however. You need to be able to drill down into specific analytics skills and their concrete results. You also need to confirm that your candidate has the vision and people skills to lead a data-driven organization.
Below, find our best tips on interviewing data-driven executive candidates.
What types of executive roles demand data-driven thinkers?
We consistently see a huge need for data-driven candidates in all of these executive roles:
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Chief Operations Officer (COO)
- Chief of Marketing (CMO)
- Chief Growth Officer (CGO)
- Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO)
The role of data in e-commerce
Data is obviously paramount in all executive levels in e-commerce. Here are the areas that we expect top candidates in e-commerce to be proficient in:
- Customer Insights: Candidates must understand how to harness demographic information, purchase history, browsing behavior, and preferences to create targeted marketing campaigns and personalized recommendations, leading to higher conversion rates and customer retention.
- Sales and Inventory Optimization: including identifying and tracking sales trends, and forecasting demand.
- Website Optimization: We look for candidates who have the skills to design web experiences that lead to higher conversion rates and lower bounce rates.
- Marketing Effectiveness: Candidates should be adept in employing marketing analytics that drive traffic, conversions, and ROI, allowing for more effective allocation of marketing budgets.
- A/B Testing and Experimentation: E-commerce businesses can conduct A/B tests and experiments to assess the impact of changes to their websites, product listings, or checkout processes. Data analytics helps in analyzing the results to make data-driven decisions on what changes to implement.
- Supply Chain and Logistics Optimization: We look for leaders who know how to optimize supply chain and logistics operations, including route planning, order fulfillment, and inventory management.
- Customer Service and Support: We see an increased demand for candidates who know how to use customer service ratings and other data to drive revenue and growth.
- Market Trends and Competitive Analysis: Top execs know how to track competitor pricing, product offerings, and customer sentiment to inform product selection and marketing.
How we approach job interviews at ACCUR
Here at ACCUR Recruiting Services, we interview thousands of candidates each year for high level executive positions. We also coach our client companies on what questions to ask when they are the ones doing the interviews. Unsurprisingly, we’ve learned a lot about interviewing technique over the years. And the first thing to know is: that laundry list? It’s tangential to the information you really need.
What we recommend: set four goals for the conversation and let that guide the way you conduct the interview. If you can keep these four goals in mind, you can be confident you have gathered enough information to make an informed decision about your candidate.
Specific questions to ask in job interviews with data-driven candidates
You will also need to ask specific questions to get at a data-driven executives real skills. Here are some of the most common:
- Can you describe a specific project where you used data analysis to make a significant business decision? What data sources did you use, and what was the outcome?
- What statistical or data analysis tools are you proficient in (e.g., Excel, Python, R, SQL), and how have you used them in your previous roles?
- How do you approach data cleaning and preprocessing to ensure the data you work with is accurate and reliable?
- Have you worked with large datasets or Big Data technologies? If so, which technologies have you used, and what challenges did you encounter?
- What data visualization tools have you used, and can you provide examples of effective data visualizations you’ve created to communicate insights?
- How do you approach data security and privacy concerns when working with sensitive data?
- Give an example of a time when you encountered data quality issues in a project. How did you address these issues, and what impact did it have on the project’s success?
- Have you used machine learning or predictive analytics in your previous roles? If so, can you provide an example of a project where you applied these techniques?
- What key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics have you tracked and analyzed in your previous roles? How did this analysis impact business outcomes?
- Describe your experience with A/B testing or experimentation. What were you testing, and how did you analyze the results to inform decision-making?
High level thinking questions
- Can you walk me through the process of creating a data-driven strategy or plan for a specific business objective? What steps did you take, and what data sources did you consider?
- Can you explain the difference between correlation and causation? Provide an example from your past experience where you had to consider this distinction.
- How do you stay updated on the latest trends and best practices in data analysis and data-driven decision-making?
- Describe a time when you had to present complex data findings to non-technical stakeholders. How did you ensure your audience understood the insights?
- What role do you believe data plays in driving innovation within an organization, and can you provide an example from your experience?
The bottom line on finding the best data-driven executives
Being able to ask questions that probe both a candidate’s specific skills applied to specific strategies and the high-level thinking required to lead data-driven organizations is at the heart of the special techniques required to interview and evaluate an executive with data-driven skills.
By taking the approach above, we look for well-rounded candidates with demonstrable skills in all or most of the following areas:
- Data Literacy
- Strategic Thinking
- Data Analytics
- Critical Thinking
- Communication Skills
- Leadership and Team Management
- Industry Knowledge
- Ethical Considerations
- Change Management
- Data Governance
- Technology Awareness
- Continuous Learning
Need more help finding top data-driven executives?
Contact us for help.