Top Executive Director Interview Questions with Example Answers [2022]

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

  • Question: Do you think that you have all the information/knowledge to be able to work in this position effectively?
  • Question Overview: This question is designed to probe the candidate's self-awareness. You want to make sure that the candidate is aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. If they are not aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, they will not be able to effectively work in the position.

    Sample Answer: I have a good idea of what I need to do to be successful in this position.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Self-awareness
    • - Ability to articulate strengths and weaknesses

  • Question: How do you lead your team?
  • Question Overview: The executive director will be responsible for leading the organization's staff. You want to make sure that the candidate has experience in leading a team and can articulate how they do it.

    Sample Answer: I lead by example and by being a role model for my employees. I am always willing to help them with their work and to listen to their ideas.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Leadership style
    • - Ability to delegate
    • - Ability to motivate

  • Question: Can you tell me about yourself?
  • Question Overview: This is a fairly open-ended question that allows the candidate to talk about their background and experience. You want to make sure that the candidate has a strong understanding of the organization and that they are able to communicate their knowledge of the organization.

    Sample Answer: I am a strong leader with a proven track record of success in managing large organizations. I have a strong vision for this organization and I know how to communicate that vision.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Knowledge of the organization
    • - Communication skills
    • - Ability to communicate their vision

  • Question: Tell me about a time where you had to give orders to your group to get a job done, What did you do and how did you handle this situation?
  • Question Overview: An executive director will have to make decisions and give orders to the organization's employees. You want to make sure that the candidate has experience doing this. You also want to make sure that they can handle the situation in a way that is fair and equitable for all involved.

    Sample Answer: I have been in situations where I had to give orders and make decisions, and I have handled them all in a fair and equitable manner.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Ability to give orders
    • - Fairness in giving orders
    • - Ability to handle conflict

  • Question: Why are you interested in working with the elderly?
  • Question Overview: The executive director will be responsible for the overall mission of the organization. You will want to make sure that the candidate has a strong interest in working with the elderly and is not just applying for the job because it is a good career move.

    Sample Answer: I have had many experiences with elderly people in my life, and I have always been impressed by their wisdom and their ability to help me grow.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Personal experience with elderly
    • - Personal experience with aging parents
    • - Personal experience with aging friends

  • Question: When can you start?
  • Question Overview: This is the most important question of all. You want to make sure that the candidate is ready to start as soon as possible.

    Sample Answer: I can start on Monday.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - The ability to start immediately
    • - The willingness to start immediately

  • Question: Why do you want to work with us?
  • Question Overview: This is a question that is asked to see if the candidate has done their homework. You want to make sure that the candidate is aware of the organization's mission and goals and that they are excited about working with you.

    Sample Answer: I have been impressed with the organization's mission and goals, and I am excited to be a part of this organization.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Knowledge of the organization's mission
    • - Goals and objectives
    • - Previous experience working with similar organizations

  • Question: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Question Overview: This is a standard question, and you should expect it. The candidate should be prepared to discuss their strengths and weaknesses. This is a good opportunity to get a sense of how they view themselves and how they will interact with others.

    Sample Answer: I am a very hard worker, but I can be too focused on the details. I am working on improving my ability to see the big picture.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Honesty
    • - Ability to admit weakness
    • - Willingness to work on weaknesses

  • Question: How will you manage your team?
  • Question Overview: The executive director will be responsible for managing the organization's staff. This will include hiring and firing, as well as making sure that the staff is working effectively. You will want to see that the candidate has experience in managing staff in order to ensure that they can do this effectively.

    Sample Answer: I have a hands-on approach to management, and I am able to get the most out of my employees by communicating with them and setting clear goals.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Experience supervising and managing staff
    • - Philosophy on how to manage staff
    • - Ability to articulate management philosophy

  • Question: What is your direct experience?
  • Question Overview: This is a question that is designed to see how the candidate has worked in the past. You want to make sure that the candidate has direct experience in the field and not just theoretical knowledge.

    Sample Answer: I have worked directly with this population for many years and have a deep understanding of their needs.

      What the interviewer is looking for:
    • - Direct experience in the field
    • - Experience working with similar organizations
    • - Experience working with similar populations