What CEOs look for during a job interview

Many New Year's resolutions revolve around changing jobs. Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison has collected advice how candidates can ace a job interview in 2019. Amongst his top tips are achievements instead of activities, motivation, small talk and culture fit.


Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry and author of Lose the Resume, Land the Job. The expert knows better than anyone how candidates can convince CEOs during a job interview that they are the right choice.

His main piece of advice is that “where you’re going is far more interesting to your next boss than where you’ve been.” In his opinion, too many job candidates focus on describing every detail of everything they ever did. Instead candidates should focus more on their journey ahead.

Burnison recommends to focus on five main areas:

Accomplishments instead of activities: This means candidates should talk less about their day-to-day activities during their career but more what they have accomplished over the years. According to the Korn Ferry CEO this speaks “volumes not only about what you’ve done, but most important about what you bring to your new job”. “Prepare and rehearse specific examples and tell a brief story that shows how you’ve made a difference to your company and the customers it serves,” he recommends.

Talk about motivation, your passion and hunger to make a difference. It is not necessarily the people with the highest IQs that get the job but people with savviness, culture fit, and authenticity.

Master the small talk: “When I interview someone, I always meet the candidate in the lobby or reception area, then take the person into the office kitchen. It’s not about getting coffee or water. I want to start in a familiar environment to help people relax so they can be themselves,” Burnison said. “We’re getting to know each other, establishing rapport and connectivity.”

Know the Company and the Position: Burnison recommends to read the company’s website, press announcements, earnings announcements and analyst reports on the company or industry and also to look up the LinkedIn profile of the person you’re meeting just in case you find some common ground.

Culture Fit is another major aspect for Burnison. The expert recommends to really think about for whom you want to work for and learn from as studies show that nearly half (46 per cent) of new hires fail within the first 18 months, largely because of cultural incompatibility. The right culture fit becomes more important the higher up the position is that you are applying for.

Read more on www.kornferry.com