What Not To Say In An Interview

Here’s another great question from the community:

Thank you for your show. I have heard you speak a lot in your program about a greater desire to hire a person with hunger, drive, and an itch to learn, over a person that is blasé, experienced, and simply says I can do that.

Two questions:

  • How do I avoid the I can do that statement?
  • How do I convey the idea of my hunger is better than his experience?

Thank you very much!


Thanks Richard! I do say a lot that I will not hire a person who says, “I can do that” when I’m explaining a position. Now, keep in mind that you are reading this, and not hearing the inflection in my voice.

I’m not talking about someone who is excited, I mean someone who says it in a way of, “it’s not my dream job, but I’ll do it for pay.” That’s the person I will not hire.

Instead, I want someone who is sitting on the edge of their seat telling me that they WANT the the job I’m talking about. That they would be excited to be a part of something that I’m doing.

That person has a considerably better chance at getting hired. Why? Because I’ve been doing this too long. And one thing I’ve discovered, you can train skills, but you can’t train passion. Click here cuz you know you want to Tweet that!

As to your second question, I don’t want someone who is hungry for a J-O-B, I want someone who is hungry for my incredible, amazing, phenomenal opportunity that I am providing, that changes the lives of other people.

I’m not in this for me. I’m in it for the people on the other end of my message. Therefore, I want to surround myself with people who are as well. If all you want is a J-O-B, you’re going to run off the very people I’m trying to help.

Therefore, show me how you have a passion to help my customer, and you have a great shot at it.

Thanks again Richard!

Question: How would YOU advise Richard? 



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

18 thoughts on “What Not To Say In An Interview”

  1. You are spot on Chris. When I used to hire at the bookstore, I’d start off by asking what brought them to the store, and if they said they needed a job, we might as well have stopped right there. If they said they had a passion for books, and sharing that with people, then we had a nice conversation and they had a chance to get hired. Got to have that passion!

  2. I’ve been dwelling (and writing) on these ideas about hiring lately too… so this post is perfect timing (they always are).

    Do you want performance or meaning? If you’re a student, is it more important to get an A-grade in Spanish class or actually learn how to speak Spanish? Same idea goes with work. If you’re constantly hitting sales goals but you have no relationship with the people you work with or people you “sell” to, then you are wasting everyone’s time.

    The Bible mentions this too: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1)

  3. If I am reading the question right, it is from the perspective of being interviewed, not interviewing…

    There are only three acceptable responses to a question about a certain skill, project, or task:

    1. Absolutely! At my current/previous position, I did that exact thing (or similar thing). Here is what happened…

    2. I never done anything like that, but I would love to learn. When I was at ____, a lot of what I ended up doing was new to me, but I had a great leader who trained me well and I ended with a great new skillset.

    3. I thought you might ask about that and I am learning how to do that right now. I signed up for a course / bought a book on that and it’s been exciting to learn this.

    Am I missing acceptable responses?

    1. I completely agree Matt! You can say you have passion, really want the job, whatever, but unless you have demonstrable evidence that you can do it, no one will believe you. I see this all the time with young engineers who think they have the world by the tail and profess to knowing how to do just about everything that I do. I will take a middle of the class junior engineer who gets excited about learning to design a system (you can pick them out of a crowd) and has a strong foundation in the basics over the kid that graduated top of his class and already thinks he knows everything. Take home message: be humble, but don’t be afraid to let your passion or excitement about the topic that interests you shine through. And for goodness sake, if you are faking it, they will know.

      1. Nice.

        I always looked for the rare combination of four things:

        Education (not necessarily school)
        Participation (they’ve done it before)
        Determination (good old fashioned hard work)
        Fascination (they are eager to continue to learn)

  4. Here erare the answers:
    1. Don’t say you can do it. Say what you love to do.
    2. Prove your hunger. Do something that is totally unexpected. Bring your business analysis. Bring a suggestion. Do some serious heavy lifting prior to the interview. Do what people with desire do.

  5. This isn’t an answer to the question posed but thanks for the reminder of just how important it is to hear passion from the interviewee in the interview. I think sometimes I/we are still pushing, hoping, and saying “yah I think this person can make it” instead of just listening to see if they really BADLY WANT to be a part of our team.

  6. Great stuff, Chris! Can’t say that I’ve done well with this in the past. I’ve always said that, not only can I do it, but I can do it better than everyone else. The companies apparently weren’t looking for passion, because I got the jobs.

    I’ve been learning this, though, and have started using this better approach. It applies not just to a traditional job interview, but also for sales pitches and trying to get clients. I spoke with a local Realtor yesterday. I had done some work on her website before, but had to stop because of time. I’ve made some changes in my schedule (and priorities), so I approached her again. We met yesterday. I mentioned that some of the things I could definitely do and some of the things were new to me, but I would work at leaning them. I’ve been showing that I WANT to help with her website, that she didn’t get anyone else while I was on my “sabbatical.” We still have to finalize the deal, but she’s offering me much more than I ever expected!

  7. When I interviewed for my current position they asked “Why do you want this job?” I answered “Because I am the person you need. I have the experience, the skills and the passion to help your clients with their training needs.”

  8. It has been years and years since I interviewed for a job, and I can only remember one person who was excited about her business. Wow, that’s sad!

    But, it led me to self-employment. Someday I hope to hire an assistant, so I appreciate learning about the interviewing process.

    As I read these entries and comments, I almost want to go job hunting. Then I remember that I still have 133 drawings to complete for my book. . . good thing I love to draw!

  9. Give examples of how you’ve done similar things in the past. For example, if a job description is calling for someone to organize big events. You should give examples of big events that you’ve planned in the past. “I planned a volunteer week for 250 employees. This involved….”

  10. I interview ~10 people each week for positions in our restaurants. I always start with the same question – “Tell me about yourself.” Roughly 10% of applicants answer this question well. As an applicant, always have your elevator speech ready!! If you lose my interest at the beginning, there’s very little chance you’ll gain it during the remaining portion of the interview.

    In the current economic client, I take notice of applicants who have taken time to process how their experience can be TRANSFERRED into the position. I may not make the connection between your former office job and now you wanting to come work with Chick-fil-A; however, YOU can make that connection for me with an example of what you did and how it relates to the open position:

    “As a receptionist, I had to deal with a diverse group of clients. I understand the challenges that come with serving a large, diverse volume of people each day, which is what I would expect of my position with Chick-fil-A. Because of my office experience, I’m confident in my ability to provide the highest level of customer service in your restaurants.”

    Now you’ve showed me how you’d be an asset to our team through your experience and that you actually have an understanding of the expectations in your position. Sure, you’ve never worked a drive-thru window, but we can easily train you on our processes.

    Most importantly, I want you to be excited about the opportunity to work with me and be part of our team. If you lack that desire (i.e. just need a job), then you’re automatically out of consideration.

  11. I always think that we typically hire people for what they know and then release them for who they are. Doing the work on the front end to discover “who” this person is, is valuable! It’s funny, that people say, “I can do that…” but the real question is WILL they actually do it. When leading I’ve found ability is usually never the problem it’s simply WILL they actually do it!

  12. This is great and painfully true. A lot of individuals are looking for a J-O-B but where they lack in passion in one area they may be much happier in another. I’ve interviewed a few people where they’ve said ‘I need a job” or “Whats the pay and benefits?” Now, don’t get me wrong pay and benefits are important, but that was the first question out of their mouth. Go for your passions and you’ll find not only happiness but security if your smart about it.

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