Top Executive Director Interview Questions with Example Answers [2020]

Prepare for your Executive Director interview by going through these most asked Executive Director interview questions. Additionally, get access to sample answers and interviewer's expectations.

Search Executive Director Questions:


  • Question: What style of leadership do you not like?
  • Question Overview: This question is designed to probe the candidate's knowledge of leadership styles and to see if they have a good grasp of what leadership is all about. You want to make sure that the candidate has a good understanding of the different leadership styles, and that they will be able to lead in a way that is appropriate for the organization.

    Sample Answer: I do not like a "command and control" style of leadership. I believe in empowering my employees and giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Knowledge of different leadership styles
    • - Ability to articulate the different styles
    • - Ability to explain which style they prefer

  • Question: What makes you think you would be good at search?
  • Question Overview: The executive director will be responsible for the search committee. This is a very important task, and you will want to make sure that the candidate has the right experience and skills to do this job.

    Sample Answer: I have been involved in many searches for board members and staff, and I know how to manage the process from beginning to end.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Experience in conducting searches
    • - Ability to work with a search committee
    • - Ability to manage the search process

  • Question: How would you help a loved one with the emotional process of watching a loved one deteriorate during the disease process of dementia?
  • Question Overview: The disease process of dementia is a very difficult one for the patient and the family. The executive director will be responsible for helping the patient and their family through this difficult time. You will want to see that the candidate has experience with this type of situation and can articulate how they would handle it.

    Sample Answer: I would help them understand that there is a lot of help available to them, and I would be there for them every step of the way.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Experience with patients and their families
    • - Ability to communicate with patients and their families
    • - Ability to help patients and their families cope

  • Question: What made you apply for this position?
  • Question Overview: The executive director is the leader of the organization, and you want to make sure that the candidate is a good fit for the organization. You can get a sense of this by asking them why they applied for the position.

    Sample Answer: I am passionate about this organization's mission and believe that I can help it achieve its goals.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Passion for the mission of the organization
    • - Desire to work with this particular organization

  • Question: What's the largest gift / donation you have ever solicited and secured?
  • Question Overview: As executive director, the candidate will be responsible for securing donations and grants from major donors and other sources. You want to make sure that the candidate has experience in this area.

    Sample Answer: I have secured a $250,000 grant from a major donor.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Record of securing large gifts
    • - Experience with major donors
    • - Communication skills to solicit donations

  • Question: How would you increase the donor base?
  • Question Overview: The executive director will be responsible for increasing the number of donors to the organization. This is a critical function because the organization will need to raise more money in the future, and it will need to do so by increasing its donor base. You want to make sure that the candidate has a plan for how they will accomplish this.

    Sample Answer: I have a proven track record of increasing donor bases for organizations, and I know how to do it.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Specific knowledge of donor acquisition
    • - Experience with donor acquisition
    • - Communication skills to solicit donations

  • Question: What was the biggest challenge you faced in your last project?
  • Question Overview: The executive director will be responsible for dealing with a variety of challenges that come up in the course of the organization's work. You want to make sure that the candidate has the experience to deal with these challenges.

    Sample Answer: I have always been able to deal with challenges and find solutions.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Ability to deal with a variety of challenges
    • - Ability to think on their feet
    • - Ability to handle unexpected situations

  • Question: Tell me about a time when things did not go well.
  • Question Overview: Every organization has its share of problems, and the executive director will be responsible for dealing with them. You want to make sure that the candidate has the experience to deal with these problems and can articulate how they would handle them.

    Sample Answer: I have been able to deal effectively with many problems in the past. I would first try to understand the problem and then come up with a solution.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Ability to deal with problems
    • - Experience with crisis management
    • - Ability to think on their feet

  • Question: How do you think ITunes charges to content creators for the distribution of content and what would you do to lower that amount?
  • Question Overview: The Internet has changed the way that content is distributed, and many organizations are now distributing their content online. The candidate should be able to discuss the changes in the industry and how they would handle them.

    Sample Answer: I would look for ways to lower the costs of distribution by using new technologies.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Knowledge of the Internet and how it is changing the distribution of content
    • - Ability to think outside of the box
    • - Knowledge of how to lower costs

  • Question: Tell me about a time when you counseled an underperforming manager.
  • Question Overview: An executive director will have to deal with employees who are not performing up to their potential. This question will help you determine how the candidate will handle this situation. You want to see that they are able to handle the situation professionally and that they are able to get the employee to improve their performance.

    Sample Answer: I am able to handle difficult situations in a professional manner, and I am able to get employees to improve their performance.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Ability to handle difficult situations
    • - Ability to counsel employees
    • - Ability to get employees to improve