5 Things You Should Never Say In An Interview

I interview a lot of people. That’s an understatement. I interview a ton of people. Last year, I met over 100 people. By the time they get to me, most have met multiple people within our organization. I have reviewed their work. I want to make sure these people know what will be expected of them as a part of our organization.

In short, if you get this far, your 95% of the way to getting a job offer.

But I can’t tell you how many people screw up the last 5%. In fact, I’ve noticed a trend. I’ve narrowed it down to these few items you should never say, ask or do in an interview. It’s only 5 – so it should be pretty easy to remember.

• “I know I’m here for the (insert job) position. But what I’m really interested in is the (insert different job) position.” BIG MISTAKE. Once you get the job, we can talk about career path and career advancement – but never say you don’t want the job you’re interviewing to get. I want someone who would walk over hot coals for this position. Who will be relentless until they get it right. Who won’t quit. I don’t want someone who is only taking this as a holding pattern to get to something else. Sorry, you don’t get the job.

• “How much money will I make and when can I expect a review for more money?” This is a bad question because I don’t want to hire people who are only interesting in the position for the paycheck. The reason; there’s someone out there in some company who will always offer more. And you’ll leave. I don’t want to take the time and effort to train you, teach you everything we do to create great award-winning work only to have someone call an offer you $5,000 more – and you leave for the money. Plus – I probably don’t know the answer because I don’t want to negotiate with you. Other people in the organization will talk money. Never the hiring manager. Never bring up money. If someone brings it up to you, that means we’re ready to make an offer. But don’t bring it up first.

• “You know, I’ve spoken to so many people, I really don’t have any questions.” BAD ANSWER. If someone asks you if you have any questions about the organization, ask a question. Even if you’ve already asked it of someone else. Even if you already know the answer. Ask something. The interviewer wants to hear you talk. The interviewer wants to hear what’s on your mind. The question could be lob back at the interviewer “What made you want to join the company?” Anything. Just don’t say “No, nothing…”

• “What are the office hours?”
YES, people actually ask this question. It’s usually a part of the work/life balance question. While I completely support a work/life balance, the official office hours at an advertising agency are this: arrive in the morning – leave when you’re done. An advertising agency is a service company. When we no longer provide the service – they find someone else.

• “How long will I have to do this job, before I can get a promotion?” Hmmm, never. Some people are promoted quickly. Some are not. Talent. Situation. Group. Supervisor. All have something to do with promotions. But mostly talent and attitude. If you’re really good and really willing to do anything for the company, you’ll be rewarded. I don’t want someone who is already looking past the job offered to the next job. Sorry, you don’t get the job either.

There are many things that factor into getting a job in advertising. Talent is one. Attitude is another. How you present yourself in the interview is a third.

But what comes out of your mouth is (by far) the most important. So, if you don’t get the job you were hoping for, think back at something you may have said. And kick yourself in the ass.


One thought on “5 Things You Should Never Say In An Interview

  1. Spot on, buddy. Let me add one, if I may. I was interviewing college candidates for an entry level spot at Grey. One kid asked me how much he’d make when he had my job (I was a managing partner and EVP at the time). Seems he wanted to make sure he didn’t waste his time in a career where he couldn’t ultimately make a million a year.


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