The One Empty Word to Avoid in a Job Interview
February 5, 2015
Still talking about “we” during an interview?
By Bob McIntosh, Career Coach
Well, knock it off.
Some job candidates don’t think it’s a big deal to say “we” during an interview, when what the interviewers want to know is what the candidates have accomplished. Hiring authorities are sensitive to the constant use of “we.” If you’ve been saying “we” instead of “I,” you need to knock it off.
Employers want to know what you’ve accomplished, what value you’ll bring to the organization, and what roles you played in your teams’ efforts. They could care less about what your past teammates accomplished. You are in consideration for the job, not your former teammates.
I tell my workshop attendees that now is the time to talk about themselves. Some of them struggle with this concept; they’re so proud of what they and their team members managed to accomplish because of the Herculean efforts to complete the projects or assignment. I couldn’t do it without them, they’d say. To that I say, “Where are your teammates now?”
Not to rain on your parade, but where are your teammates now? Who’s on your team in the job search?
As a former manager or a team leader, the use of “we” is more understandable, as you were the one who oversaw the team; your name is on the projects and assignments. But you should still insert “I” whenever you can; for example,
“Some of my sales people needed some guidance on installing our software at user sights, so I went with them and led them through the process. This cut down installs by at least half the time it would take. In addition, I liked interacting with the customers.”
Job candidates should answer questions by using a story format whenever possible. Given the following question: “Tell us about a time when your manager opposed one of you ideas, but you were able to persuade him/her t to adopt it.” In this case use the C.A.R formula.
Challenge: I approached the vice president of marketing to suggest we implement social media marketing, as there was none at the credit union at that time. He was reluctant to start a social media marketing campaign, especially since this was a small credit union.
Actions: Instead of arguing with him about my idea, I decided to persuade him by showing him the benefits. I took a number of actions.
1. The first of which was to find as many credit unions and banks as possible on popular social networking sites. I was somewhat amazed by the number credit unions represented on each platform.
2. Once I had a sampling of ten institutions, I next began studying how many connections, followers, and friends each one had.
3. I determined that eight out of the ten credit unions had a good presence on all three platforms, so I developed a spreadsheet that would show the analytic data of each company.
4. I felt the best way to really figure out how prominent a role social media played for each company would be to enlist help from my assistant. I asked him to call the companies to ask them if they new the ROI from their social media campaigns.
5. With a great deal of hard work, he was able to determine that six credit unions benefited greatly from all three platforms and came up with some great figures. With his information, I was ready to approach the VP of marketing and make my case.
6. At first my VP seemed agitated that I continued to press him on this matter, but I stood my ground. I showed him the research on a detailed PowerPoint presentation my assistant and I created, letting him look at it for half the day.
Result: By the time I approached him to finish the conversation, he asked me how I would have the time to head up this new social media marketing campaign. If you’d like to hear about how I instituted a very successful social media marketing campaign, I’d be happy to tell you the story.
In my Interview Boot Camp workshops, and when I conduct mock interviews, I occasionally hear the absence of “I” in my participants’ answers, and I call them on it. What’s more, so do the other participants who are there to critique each others’ answers. When they hear “we” instead of “I,” they realize how important it is to take credit for their work. You have permission to take credit for your work.
About the Author
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob's blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.
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