How to blow the C-suite interview

Nailing a first interview is easy, right? Be prepared, do your homework, sit up straight, project confidence, etc.  If you are reading this, it’s likely you have already aced many big interviews to get to where you are today.

But when it comes to interviewing for a job on the C-suite, there are a few critical mistakes that we see happen over and over which can kill your prospects on the spot.

In our decades of working with executive leadership, here are the worst things to say in a first interview to guarantee you don’t get asked back.

What are the hours?”  

While the ability to work flexibly is increasingly important, kicking off with this kind of question could potentially set the wrong tone.  Companies are hiring C-suite leaders to bring change and growth, which requires a certain energy and commitment to get the job done.  You can easily dig into the company’s work culture once you get to the second interview.  Or do your research beforehand to find online employee reviews, and ask friends in your network if the company’s environment is right for you.

I’m so bored in my current job.” 

If you are in the C-suite or hoping to get there, saying you are bored is a surefire way to show a lack of initiative and drive.  Highly motivated people find a way to stay engaged and create opportunities for themselves in their organization.  Even if you are stifled in your current team and there is nowhere for you to go, it’s more effective to tell your potential employer that you are ready for a new challenge, or that you would love a role where you can truly stretch yourself.

My company is horrible and everyone is a nightmare.” 

When you criticize your current employer, it sends a signal that this is how you might talk about your new prospective company one day.  This is a real turn-off for any hiring manager.  It’s okay to be honest about why you don’t like where you work, if you are professional and tactful.  Just remember that no one wants to hire a negative whiner.


Not having any follow-up questions at the end of the interview shows a lack of curiosity and interest.   If the role seems compelling, by this stage you should have lots of questions to ask about the company and the opportunity and where it can go.  Wrapping up with silence is a good way to end the interview process if you don’t want to move forward.


By Claire Telling, Co-CEO Americas