Keeping your Nerves at Bay During a Final Interview with the CEO

Congratulations! You’ve made it through each phase of the interview process, and you’ve been asked back for one final interview with perhaps the biggest influence on your hiring decision: the CEO.

It’s a completely normal feeling for your nerves to be flare up about this impending interview. The CEO arguably has the most experience, passion and influence within the company. However, it doesn’t have to be as nerve wracking as it’s made out to be in your mind.

First and foremost, the tried and true piece of advice that goes for any interview still holds its merit with the final stage of your interview process – be yourself. Don’t get caught up with trying to impress the CEO. They want to speak to your authentic self and the person who will potentially be representing the company one day. It’s even a good idea to strike up a casual conversation such as complimenting a recent product launch or keynote speech.

Another important tip to keep in mind is to do everything in your power to make the CEO feel as if you aren’t wasting his or her time. The way to achieve this is to enter the interview as prepared as possible, knowing the company’s history and everything that would be expected of you if you get the job. Keep in mind it’s not all one-sided – you can feel free to ask questions you might have about the position or company if something is unclear, and you will often be given this opportunity at the end of the interview. Your authenticity, interest and transparency and won’t go unnoticed.

Throughout the interview, many questions and answers will be imparted, but the key focus should be to relay your message with intention, drive and enthusiasm. The CEO will undoubtedly be listening to what you have to say, but rest assured they will also be listening to how you say it. All CEOs are not created equal but there’s a good chance they’re all looking for an honest, genuine candidate who will make their own impact on the company.

Don’t think of yourself as in the hot seat during the final interview. Instead, switch your mindset to think of it as a conversation with someone who can possibly become a valuable mentor in your career, as well as someone who shares the same goals about achieving success within the company they lead.


JW Michaels & Co. is an executive search firm dedicated to serving the specialized recruiting needs of top-tier financial services, legal, technology, and business institutions. Since our founding in 2010, we have grown to over 120 employees across six offices nationwide. We continue to grow because we stay true to our mission, employing the best people to find the best people.


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