Hard work and dedication pays off in college because good grades allow students to get rewarding internships. The ability to form a strong professional reputation before graduation can be invaluable. Big and small companies look for employees who are smart and dedicated, but also willing to take risks.

Interviewee | KAIKU

College graduates and young professionals who are currently looking for a job must make a good impression on interviews to stand out from the competition. Here are characteristics top executives look for the most in potential employees:

  • If you are in the service industry, one of the most important characteristics to have is being really good with people and ensuring that they have the best experiences possible. This advice comes from Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of The Virgin Group. Branson’s company is built on the foundation of customer service.
  • CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Elon Musk interviews potential employees himself. What he looks for differs based on the position, but the one thing he looks for in all employees is a positive attitude. He believes it’s important to like the people you work with as it cultivates a productive environment.
  • Sharing previous work-related success gives interviewees credibility. Even if you don’t have much “real world” job experience, be prepared to discuss major accomplishments from your college days. On the flip side, think of failed projects from the past and be prepared to answer how you would do things differently the second time around. CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, says that people who can’t admit past mistakes immediately lose credibility in his eyes.
  • Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, seeks out two opposing characteristics in employees – a willingness to get deeply involved in work and a broad range of interests. He believes these two traits create well-rounded individuals.
  • Pinterest Founder and CEO, Ben Silbermann likes to hire people who know about things that he isn’t educated on. During an interview, applicants may want to seek out problem areas within the company and contribute ideas on how to fix them.
  • Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh admits to passing on smart and talented people because they didn’t fit the company’s culture. While these candidates could have improved their bottom line immediately, they just didn’t sync with the work environment. Fine tune your personality to fit the company atmosphere.
  • Trina Gordon, President and CEO of Boyden World Corp, has a theory that shoes are like the eyes of the soul. Use your Kaiku card to purchase interview attire that’s in line with the company’s culture – including nice shoes.