The Korea Herald


[Career Compass] Preparing for a job interview?

By Korea Herald

Published : April 25, 2024 - 19:34

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I just graduated from university and will interview for a multinational company. What are the qualities the interviewers look for? How do I show my best self?

Congratulations on your graduation. In addition to my opinion, I also sought insights from 20 multinational company executives. Here are the seven attributes that were considered the most significant.

1. Great attitude and curiosity

This quality was the most frequently mentioned. An individual with a great attitude is more likely to be proactive, eager to learn from others and effectively contribute to the team. Kathy Park, Asia-Pacific president of Cooper Vision, emphasized the significance of curiosity: “Being curious and having an inquisitive nature is key.” Additionally, Juwon Lee, senior director of total rewards at Kellanova AMEA, said, “It’s the attitude and behavior that I look for when the candidates showcase their experiences, not just the results they delivered.”

2. Logical and strategic thinking

Sean Lee, vice president of marketing at Hyperconnect, emphasized the importance of strategic thinking, noting, “Candidates who excel in strategic thinking are often skilled in problem-solving and play a crucial role in driving business and organizational growth.” Interviewers are also interested in how you collect available data, formulate assumptions and draw conclusions. Demonstrating your strategic thought process while discussing your experiences can effectively establish your intellectual capabilities.

3. Enthusiasm, Positivity, Passion

“Who wouldn’t admire a candidate brimming with passion? Attitude and passion are my top two picks,” remarked BokHee Lee, business director of CMP technologies at DuPont. And I agree! People with enthusiasm and passion draw other people in. Gene Lee, global sourcing and supply manager at Apple Korea, added, “A person who is consistent and maintains a positive outlook tends to perform well and demonstrates a strong sense of responsibility.”

4. Leadership

Kyumoon Lee, senior vice president/general manager at Estee Lauder APAC, said, “I look for characteristics of leadership in a candidate. Specifically, how the person can envision the future, engage the stakeholders, empower others and own executional leadership.” These qualities are indicative signs of strong performance in any company and at any level. You don’t have to wait until you become an executive or CEO to show leadership. You can be a leader from day one by leading your own work.

5. Collaborative Team Player

From an interviewer’s perspective, collaboration is a crucial trait, though it can be challenging to assess since many candidates claim to be team players. During the interview, you might be asked to describe how you've resolved conflicts or to provide an example of a time when you disagreed with others. Avoid claiming you've never faced conflict. Instead, highlight any win-win solution examples or how you successfully navigated the challenge and came up with an amicable alternative.

6. Resilience

Ki Won Kim, managing director of McDonald’s Korea, commented on the rarity and value of resilience. "Resilience is not easy to have. It is the incredible ability to overcome difficulties and tough challenge," Kim said. Resilience acts like a superpower, enabling you to bounce back from setbacks. In the world of work, you'll inevitably encounter problems and sometimes that is no fault of yours. Hanjoon Bae, general manager at ZP Therapeutics, emphasized this, saying, "A candidate who only performs well in favorable conditions will not succeed. Resilience is the power of inner strength.”

7. Effective Communication

Dongwan Yoo, head of procurement at Kimberly-Clark Southeast Asia, stated, "I'm not looking for having native-level English, but how effectively one can communicate." He focuses on three key elements of communication structure: "who," "what" and "how." Additionally, Jiyoung Kim, vice president of Bluebell, values authenticity in communication, saying, "I appreciate a candidate who can communicate the life story and experiences in a genuine and convincing way."

Use these insights as a starting point and a reference in preparing for your interview. Take time to reflect on your past experiences where you have exhibited these qualities and think about how you can articulate these during your interview. This thoughtful preparation will not only help you stay calm but also position you to excel. Best of luck in acing your interview!

Kim Jooyoun, an independent board member at SK Innovation and a former CEO at P&G, answers questions on careers and multinational companies. She can be reached at -- Ed.