Interview Lesson: Never Swear

After successfully making it to the final round of interviews with the Sr. Finance Manager at a F50, and navigating through to a role that was perfectly suited for me, I blew it.

During what was the "technical questioning", I missed one answer due to a misinterpreted detail, and accidentally followed up by dropping the S--- bomb quickly out loud, but to myself.

Maybe it was because I found myself being too casual in the interview so that we could easily discuss, instead of sounding rehearsed and disingenuous. Luckily he was receptive to my follow up email to ask for feedback once I received the rejection letter and we spoke this morning. He said that I was an incredible candidate, but the cinch in the armor he saw was my choice of language and that I accidentally cursed once or twice.

I never thought I would ever accidentally do that. Lesson learned.

Comments (48)

Jul 31, 2013

I can't remember ever having an interview where at least one member of the team didn't swear. At one ER interview, whenever I gave an inadequate answer the analyst would just say to my face "that's a shitty way to do it".

Jul 31, 2013

What sort of technical questions were you asked?

Jul 31, 2013

I always hear at least one swear word in interviews, which is fine with me. Sometimes, they get colorful, too. In one S&T interview with an EMD I worked for at a previous shop, he said to me: "Dammit, I want to come now, which clients are your strongest relationships?"

Jul 31, 2013

Agree with the above sentiment. I always hear swearing in my interviews. To be clear I don't take it to their level. Never trust an interviewer. They may be lulling you into acting in your casual demeanor to see how you'll behave 6 months into the job when you feel like you know everyone. Are you a frat boy or do you keep it professional?

That said, if the person is uptight don't ever be more casual than they are. And the fact you used it in anger maybe told him you weren't as buttoned up as himself which could have been a red flag. Interviewing is tricky and more art than science. Take it as a learning experience and move on.

Best Response
Jul 31, 2013

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

    • 2
Jul 31, 2013

This ^

Jul 31, 2013

Obviously avoid vulgar language in an interview. But isn't it warranted in certain contexts at work? Like saying you were "nervous as hell" or "shit" as an expletive, or "that damn thing" as an adjective. I would probably smack someone if they were saying "uh" or "um" constantly, or walking on egg shells to not offend someone. We're all adults now.

Jul 31, 2013
SirTradesaLot:

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

This. What a little shit

Jul 31, 2013

Does anyone have any recommended books, websites, or blogs about developing professionalism?

Jul 31, 2013

Taking this pretty hard aren't you?

I honestly don't think you should give it a second thought. You messed up and learned from it, that's life.

    • 2
Jul 31, 2013
Anihilist:

Taking this pretty hard aren't you?

I honestly don't think you should give it a second thought. You messed up and learned from it, that's life.

I wanted the job and don't think it should be a deal breaker. But it apparently was.

Aug 1, 2013

If it was a dealbreaker, is that really the kind of place you want to be working at?

Jul 31, 2013
JustNumbers:
Anihilist:

Taking this pretty hard aren't you?

I honestly don't think you should give it a second thought. You messed up and learned from it, that's life.

I wanted the job and don't think it should be a deal breaker. But it apparently was.

It might not have been. It's an incredibly stupid reason and he could have just been looking for a reason to cut you (no offense)

I just really have a hard time believing a guy would go "This guy is definitely the right candidate. He would make our company a ton of money. But...he said 'shit' during the interview. Forget his potential. Forget any possibility to train him. He has a potty mouth and we don't stand for that here!"

    • 1
Jul 31, 2013

In an alternate universe you get the job. F bombs, F bombs everywhere from everyone all the time!

Jul 31, 2013

I don't think I've ever had an interview/phone call with an MD level type where they didn't drop at least one F-bomb. Everyone in my office curses like sailors all day, it's awesome.

Jul 31, 2013

You made a mistake. This is a F50 firm, not an investment bank or some place where cursing is more acceptable.

    • 1
Jul 31, 2013

Yeah on second thought, no one, not even the biggest pussy of pussies, will eliminate you because of one or two swear words. CRE is probably right; you were not the best candidate and instead of telling you that, they chose to pick on something minor. It is always difficult to tell someone they are inferior to their face.

Everyone, especially new college graduates, should kick the habit of swearing casually and unnecessarily. When you spill your coffee, it's okay to say "shit". But when you're just having a conversation, there's no need to say "I was doing so much shit yesterday and my day was so fucking busy."

    • 1
Jul 31, 2013
nyboarder:

What sort of technical questions were you asked?

You can find sample ER interview questions all over this forum. As for my interview, it was not easy and it certainly was not your simple accounting/financial statements/valuation questions. There were a lot of brain teasers, a lot of probability questions, a rudimentary case study - more a test of your critical thinking and logic skills than anything else.

Jul 31, 2013
SirTradesaLot:

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

Agreed.

OP, this is nothing on you, imo. If he's the type of person you'd be working with, I don't think it'd be a great fit.

Keep pushing. Good luck.

Aug 1, 2013

I swear all the time at work and I would've dinged you too. Shows a lack of professionalism and self-control -- can he trust you to not do the same thing in front of a client or investor?

Aug 1, 2013

Like anything else in life, it's not what you say but how you say it. You should not curse in an interview because you are angry, embarrassed or out of control. If you must swear, you do it with purpose. If you cringed at your mistake, got flustered and accidentally swore, it is a fault and makes you someone I would be less likely to put in front of a client. Learn to recover with more grace.

Aug 1, 2013

I was once interviewing with a guy who said "and the guys like 'fuck you!'". I may have said shit or fuck later in the interview, and I immediately realized it was a stupid idea. Nevertheless, I got the offer and I heard the guy tell someone else that I was one of the brightest candidates he has ever interviewed.

Either way, its a horrible idea to swear, irregardless of what language your interviewer may be using.

Aug 1, 2013

FYI - it's "chink" in the armour.

Just make sure you're not Anthony Federico talking about Jeremy Lin.

Aug 1, 2013

I think that's a stupid reason to ding someone who is perfectly suited for the job.

Chill

    • 1
Aug 1, 2013

Every interview I have ever conducted I have started off by asking, "How the hell are you?"

I don't trust people that don't swear and sure as fuck wouldn't work for anyone that had a problem with it.

Aug 1, 2013
Nefarious-:

Every interview I have ever conducted I have started off by asking, "How the hell are you?"

I don't trust people that don't swear and sure as fuck wouldn't work for anyone that had a problem with it.

hahaha that's awesome

Aug 1, 2013
Nefarious-:

Every interview I have ever conducted I have started off by asking, "How the hell are you?"

I don't trust people that don't swear and sure as fuck wouldn't work for anyone that had a problem with it.

Anyone ever come out of gates with "Fan-fucking-tastic!"?

Aug 1, 2013
VanillaGorilla:
Nefarious-:

Every interview I have ever conducted I have started off by asking, "How the hell are you?"

I don't trust people that don't swear and sure as fuck wouldn't work for anyone that had a problem with it.

Anyone ever come out of gates with "Fan-fucking-tastic!"?

Not yet - but I have to be honest with you. If that ever happened, I would hire that guy. Everything else in business can be taught. Personality and big fucking balls can't be.

Aug 1, 2013

That guy would have been terrible to work with. You have to let them open up the flood gates first. Once they cuss it's fair game to lay down some four letter bombs.

Aug 1, 2013

What a bunch of shit. I know several people who will not consider hiring someone who doesn't swear. If you are constantly watching what you say you come off as someone who doesn't take risks.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Aug 2, 2013
CRE:
SirTradesaLot:

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

This. What a little shit

You're gonna need to change your avatar.

(please.)

To OP:



Aug 2, 2013
VanillaGorilla:
Nefarious-:

Every interview I have ever conducted I have started off by asking, "How the hell are you?"

I don't trust people that don't swear and sure as fuck wouldn't work for anyone that had a problem with it.

Anyone ever come out of gates with "Fan-fucking-tastic!"?

Thank you for the laugh during lunch.

To the OP: I think its horseshit that this could've had even the slightest impact on their hiring decision. However, I always make an effort to feel out interviewers or higher-ups before dropping the F-bombs. You gotta ask yourself, did this guy go to church twice last week or did he go once, Sunday morning, hungover?

Aug 2, 2013
nyboarder:
CRE:
SirTradesaLot:

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

This. What a little shit

You're gonna need to change your avatar.

(please.)

To OP:





I think it's like NFL players when they go to a new team. You gotta buy me out, man

Aug 2, 2013
CRE:
nyboarder:
CRE:
SirTradesaLot:

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

This. What a little shit

You're gonna need to change your avatar.

(please.)

To OP:

I think it's like NFL players when they go to a new team. You gotta buy me out, man

Aug 2, 2013
nyboarder:
CRE:
nyboarder:
CRE:
SirTradesaLot:

That interviewer is a fucking pussy.

This. What a little shit

You're gonna need to change your avatar.

(please.)

To OP:

I think it's like NFL players when they go to a new team. You gotta buy me out, man

That looks like a quality avatar for you...

Aug 2, 2013
CRE:

That looks like a quality avatar for you...

I guess we're going to the mattresses on this one.

Aug 2, 2013
nyboarder:

I guess we're going to the mattresses on this one.

For peace, I'm willing to offer the following:

1. 3 silver bananas
2. A beer if we ever meet
3. I won't have sex with a relative and/or girlfriend of yours

Aug 2, 2013
CorpFinanceGuy:
VanillaGorilla:
Nefarious-:

Every interview I have ever conducted I have started off by asking, "How the hell are you?"

I don't trust people that don't swear and sure as fuck wouldn't work for anyone that had a problem with it.

Anyone ever come out of gates with "Fan-fucking-tastic!"?

Thank you for the laugh during lunch.

To the OP: I think its horseshit that this could've had even the slightest impact on their hiring decision. However, I always make an effort to feel out interviewers or higher-ups before dropping the F-bombs. You gotta ask yourself, did this guy go to church twice last week or did he go once, Sunday morning, hungover?

No F-bombs were dropped, and nothing was intentionally sworn. I said "shit" when I realized I answered incorrectly, and I may have said "damn" accidentally, but I didn't even catch that. The best part about it is that that this guy is former military! So maybe he was looking for a strict and polished candidate.

But it's whatever and over with. I shouldn't have setup an interview that late in the day when I already was rushed at my current job. Not to mention the taxi that picked me up went the wrong way and we were stuck in a 15 minute detour going through Times Square, that I was trying to avoid like the plague, and almost made me late. There were a lot of factors to why I probably wasn't on my A game

Aug 2, 2013
CRE:
nyboarder:

I guess we're going to the mattresses on this one.

For peace, I'm willing to offer the following:

1. 3 silver bananas

2. A beer if we ever meet

3. I won't have sex with a relative and/or girlfriend of yours

My counter offer:

1. accept the 3 silver bananas
2. accept a beer, on the condition that it is of my choosing
3. I would like to have sex with a relative and/or girlfriend of yours. this would solidify the truce and possibly make us Eskimo brothers - a bond that cannot be undone.

Aug 2, 2013
nyboarder:
CRE:
nyboarder:

I guess we're going to the mattresses on this one.

For peace, I'm willing to offer the following:

1. 3 silver bananas

2. A beer if we ever meet

3. I won't have sex with a relative and/or girlfriend of yours

My counter offer:

1. accept the 3 silver bananas

2. accept a beer, on the condition that it is of my choosing

3. I would like to have sex with a relative and/or girlfriend of yours. this would solidify the truce and make us Eskimo brothers - a bond that cannot be undone.

1. Done

2. I will stipulate that this beer shall not exceed $20, just in case you have fantasies of an enormous and/or extravagantly expensive beer

3. Having sex with a relative of mine would not make us Eskimo brothers. I am not from West Virginia. I also do not currently have a solid girlfriend.

That being said, I will stipulate that you may have sex with a cousin of mine, or former flame, without retribution, but not both.

(I wonder if other people are following this Friday afternoon nonsense or if we're actually just talking to each other hah)

Aug 2, 2013

haha, i just changed the eskimo bros part realizing you're probably not a hick..

Aug 2, 2013
Take_It_To_The_Bank:
nyboarder:

What sort of technical questions were you asked?

You can find sample ER interview questions all over this forum. As for my interview, it was not easy and it certainly was not your simple accounting/financial statements/valuation questions. There were a lot of brain teasers, a lot of probability questions, a rudimentary case study - more a test of your critical thinking and logic skills than anything else.

So when you're talking about an interview with a F50, what sort of position was this? Business development?

Aug 3, 2013
nyboarder:
Take_It_To_The_Bank:
nyboarder:

What sort of technical questions were you asked?

You can find sample ER interview questions all over this forum. As for my interview, it was not easy and it certainly was not your simple accounting/financial statements/valuation questions. There were a lot of brain teasers, a lot of probability questions, a rudimentary case study - more a test of your critical thinking and logic skills than anything else.

So when you're talking about an interview with a F50, what sort of position was this? Business development?

Oops, thought you were talking to me, when in fact your question was directed at OP.

Aug 5, 2013
nyboarder:
Take_It_To_The_Bank:
nyboarder:

What sort of technical questions were you asked?

You can find sample ER interview questions all over this forum. As for my interview, it was not easy and it certainly was not your simple accounting/financial statements/valuation questions. There were a lot of brain teasers, a lot of probability questions, a rudimentary case study - more a test of your critical thinking and logic skills than anything else.

So when you're talking about an interview with a F50, what sort of position was this? Business development?

International Treasury. It's common to be in the role for up to 2 years before transferring into strategy or capital markets.

Aug 7, 2013

Swearing in most corporate settings isn't allowed or looked down upon...

Clearly you guys have never worked corporate.

Aug 11, 2013
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