Candidate and interviewer…a unique interaction that has serious implications for the future of both parties. If you are the potential employee, your fit with the corporate culture and the honesty of your statements will be seen as vital to your future customers, co-workers, suppliers and stockholders.

Research shows that untrained job interviewers make up their minds on a candidate in less than a minute. They then spend the remainder of the interview confirming their prejudices. This guide is intended to prepare candidates for any kind of interview situation.

Boyden professionals interview over 15,000 executives on behalf of our clients every year. The interview and evaluation process is at the very core of our business, and the methods we’ve developed in over six decades of search work have been critical to our organization’s continuing success.

The purpose of the interview is to evaluate the mutual fit between the candidate and the potential leadership role in the hiring organization. Effective interviewing is for the ultimate benefit of both parties. Before a candidate is presented to one of our client companies, he or she has been thoroughly vetted and evaluated. This guide outlines a disciplined approach to help the most qualified candidates enter and conquer the interview process.

Approaching the Interview

Grooming and Presentation

If you are like most of our candidates, you have spent a far greater percentage of your time on the employer side of the table. Think about the candidate you’d prefer to greet: He or she will be well-groomed and presentable, dressed neatly and appropriately for the office environment. Boyden will advise you on the dress code well in advance.

Preparation is critical to a successful interview. In particular, you should have detailed knowledge of the content of the position for which you are being considered, the competencies required, and all existing information on the company. We will of course provide you with necessary information, but independent research is always recommended. You might want to think, in advance, about what aspects of yourself and your career you’d like to highlight. With a game plan for the interview, you’ll feel prepared and show confidence and interest. Don’t forget to bring extra copies of your CV or resume, and distribute them freely at the very outset of the session.

Starting Off

Mastering the Basics

One of the important keys to a successful interview is the establishment of rapport, as the interviewer might try to put you at ease and encourage you to “open up” and respond more spontaneously than you might otherwise in a rigid question/answer interview.

Typically, an interviewer will open up with a non-threatening “small talk” question aimed at easing initial tensions and requiring some elaboration. The subject matter might be how the candidate enjoyed living in a certain location or became interested in a particular pastime or community project. This ice-breaking stage should easily morph into the business portion of the interview, wherein you should continue to speak freely and comfortably.

Be Relaxed

For many, this is easier said than done. Try to remember that you have important information that needs to be communicated in a clear and concise manner. As you take your time to answer, also take your time to listen. Ensure that communication has happened, and seek clarifications if needed. It is also important to make good eye contact with the interviewer during the meeting.

Time Management

The interviewer may ask both open-ended and closed-ended questions. You will also be expected to have questions of your own. The quality of your answers and insight of your questions are critical elements of your final evaluation, so we advise you to practice both your answers and questions. (Examples are provided in this guide.)

Open-ended questions: These are questions like “tell me about yourself.” To answer, be brief, about three or four minutes. Spend about half the time on the early days and the rest on the more recent and relevant years. 

Closed-ended questions: These are questions like “tell me about a significant career achievement.” To answer, remember STAR. ST=describe the situation, A=action taken and R=results, punctuated with facts and figures. Be precise and clear in your communication. 

Your questions: This is a golden opportunity for you to demonstrate your preparation and knowledge of the company and your interest in the role. Do your homework by reading the brief provided by Boyden, visiting the organization’s website, googling industry news, etc. 

Ask questions first about the company, its growth, strategy, plans and any specific questions pertaining to the assignment. At this point it is appropriate to ask specific questions about the role, your growth prospects, etc.


The initial meeting shouldn’t be the time for salary negotiations. If asked, however, do provide your current compensation data. If asked about the expected package, reply tactfully that you will leave it to them to assess your fair value to the corporation. 


Summary and Sale

As the interview comes to a close, summarize what makes you unique as a candidate for this role, taking into account the information you have gleaned from the interview. Inquire about next steps. Most importantly, thank them for the opportunity to meet.

In the end, it is the person-to-person connection that sells a candidate. So if you feel it is warranted and you are truly sincere, tell the interviewer you are excited about the meeting and the prospect of joining their organization. Send an email of thanks later, including any materials you may have promised to send (articles, tables of data, etc.). And of course, don’t forget to call your Boyden consultant to debrief him or her afterward.

A Library of Interview Questions

In every search conducted by Boyden, we evaluate candidates on six key leadership characteristics: 

​Below are potential interview questions related to each.

1: Integrity

2: Problem Solving

3: Communication Skills

4: Motivation

5: Interpersonal Skills

6: Execution



Interviewing is an art form…as is being interviewed.

Your interviewer will be prepared, and so should you.

Boyden professionals have been perfecting interview training, for all parties, for over 70 years. The techniques shared in this guide are crucial when striving to differentiate yourself in a crowded pool of qualified job applicants.

Interested in building a relationship with Boyden? Would you like to be considered for opportunities in the future? Click this link to submit your CV to Boyden's global leadership database.

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