After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Keeping the "I" in Interview

What do the following statements have in common?

“Our office increased its sales by over 30% in 2012.”

“My group completed the task before deadline and completely revamped the procedures used in monthly reporting.””

“We compiled a database of all the company’s clients and sent out a mass e-mail promoting our new product.”

Answer:  Each of the claims tells a lot about what “we” did and very little about what “I” did.

Many of us possess an ingrained modesty when it comes to singing our own praises.   Hence we may use “we” in an effort to meticulously ascribe credit to the proper individuals.   But a disproportionate use of “we” instead of “I” in a job interview might lead an interviewer to conclude that you are coasting on the more impressive accomplishments of a group because your own accomplishments are unremarkable.  Remember, the interviewer is hiring you, not your office, your group, or your task force.

I am not suggesting that you misrepresent collective successes that are not rightfully yours.  Just the opposite, in fact.  As an interviewer, I would rather hear about your individual contributions, even if not so wide-ranging or seemingly impressive as those of the group.  For example, instead of citing the office’s 30% sales increase in the first statement above, talk about your own 20% annual sales increase, and how you attracted three new major customers through your persistence and determination. 

It might help to make a list of your personal accomplishments as part of your interview preparation.  This will help you to categorize the achievements that you own and help you to recollect such achievements during the course of your job interview.   If you review your contributions to various projects in the past few years and find them lacking, maybe it is time to step up your game. 

I know that we have all been taught as youth athletes that there is no “I” in “team.”  But there is an “I” in “interview.”  And there is also an “I” in “win”. 

No comments:

Post a Comment