There are only four words you can say to me during an interview that will guarantee I will stop listening to anything else you say. And I will not hire you. Not in this business. Arguably, not in many. I’ll let you pick those four words from the choices below:
I’ve done jail time.
I’m not a reader.
I don’t watch TV.
I hate my coworkers.
If you told me you’d done jail time, I’d be curious to find out what offense you committed, how much time you’d served, what you’d learned from the experience.
If you declared that you don’t watch TV, I’d want to know why you were seeking a job in advertising in the first place (knowing full well that television isn’t what it used to be, especially to a younger cohort), and I’d be very open to the answer.
And while stating that you hate your coworkers is a bit vitriolic, I can glean something about your character by probing that one a bit more. Given that our culture is built on mutual respect and collaboration, you most likely wouldn’t fit in, but you deserve your day in court.
But tell me that you don’t read? Time’s up. Interview’s over. Have a nice day.
Now, to be honest, no one volunteers “I’m not a reader” without prompting. When it comes out, it’s in response to a question I ask every candidate: “What are you reading right now?”
That’s the defining moment. The answer can be anything. Anything at all. Anything except “I’m not a reader.”
Stephen King put it this way in a recent interview: “If you can read in the 21st century, you own the world. Because you learn to write from reading.”
Anna Leahy sums it up nicely in a June 2012 post.
Oh, I forgot. You don’t read. Those of us who do know exactly what she’s talking about.