How to Nail an Interview for a Stretch Role

Are you getting bored in your current role? Do you find yourself craving your next big challenge? If you answered yes to both questions, you might be ready for a stretch role. I define a stretch role as a position that exceeds the current scope of your experience but one that you have the aptitude and transferrable skills to tackle. An excellent example of a stretch role came with a recent coaching client. She was applying for a regional president position in an industry she had not previously worked. Additionally, she would be going from managing a portfolio worth $15M to one worth $2B. She was also elevating her management purview from 20 to 200 individuals. In our Interview Bootcamp, we formed a response for answering the anticipated question, “Express your strategy for taking on this stretch assignment.”

Here’s how to answer the question:

  1. Revisit other stretch roles: What worked in the past? Think of a specific position where you “leveled-up” and how you did it. What were the challenges along the way, and how did you overcome them? Name and define 3-5 transferrable skills you used to help support your transition. Perhaps you could solve problems creatively or quickly synthesize new information. Whatever the competencies, have a specific example queued up to demonstrate how that skill resulted in your ability to come up to speed quickly and start delivering results. Past success is often a predictor of future success, so tell them you’ve done it before! 
  2. Express confidence: When I asked my client why I should hire her into a stretch role, without demonstrated experience, she wavered. At first, she gave me a canned answer about how her mix of small and large-scale corporate experience makes her flexible. While this was true and valuable, it wasn’t compelling enough. I pressed her to tell me the real reason, and finally, she said, “Take a look at my resume. ALL of my jobs have been stretch assignments, and I’ve been successful in all of them.” BOOM. That was the ideal answer. My client had a proven track record, not managing 200 people in a 2B dollar unit, but she did have a demonstrated success in every single stretch role before. When you display confidence in an interview, it translates as competence to your interviewer. This confidence is essential in the determination that you’re fit to do the job. 

The truth is, every position has some component of the unknown. Heck, even your current role that you’ve been doing for years may morph into something new and different at any time. Have confidence knowing that your background and experiences have provided you perspective and confidence to tackle the next challenge. Remember, growth happens on the other side of discomfort. If your stretch assignment feels a bit uncomfortable, it means you’re growing. As painful as it may be at times, it certainly beats being bored. So get out there and stretch!