Embrace The Word 'We' In A Job Interview To Show You're A Team Player

Embrace the Word

In a job interview, you often end up talking about projects you've worked on in the past. When describing these projects, using the word "we" can show potential employers that you're a team player.

Photo by Samuel Mann

Over at Fortune, CEO Steve Pogorzelski explains that the way a candidate describes how they achieved goals can be telling of how that person leads or works. Fortune explains:

By his lights, candidates who say "I" more than "we" are used to grabbing all the credit and won't be strong team players. "I interviewed a CFO just the other day who came from a tech startup," Pogorzelski says. "He said 'I" so many times and 'we' so few that I cut the conversation short about halfway through."

Of course, this is more discretionary advice than an absolute rule. Sometimes, "I" is unavoidable, and it might be odd to constantly say "we" in answering questions. But overall, he makes a good point -- including others shows that you work well on a team.

For more advice, check out the full post.

The Two Most Important Words in a Job Interview [Fortune]


    I have done lots of interviews for the government organisation I work for. According to the behavioural interviewing criteria we use, I will mark you done for using 'we' over 'I'.

    This may not be the best advice to take.

    In my experience, candidates who use 'we' a lot, tend to have only played a minor part in the accomplishment, whereas the use of 'I' indicates a much more active role.

    You all know what they say about opinions. So many of these type of articles are just random perspectives of individuals. As there's no way of telling whether these apply to your specific circumstances, these typically make for horrible interview 'tips' unless you happen to be interviewing with that same person who's offered the advice in the first place.

    In practice, you need to understand the audience and consider the role you're applying for. Using a balance of 'we' and 'I' that allows you to accurately discuss your previous experience while still acknowledging the work of others is rarely going to let you down (hint: it's not often that you genuinely achieve anything entirely on your own at work).

    Of course, it's different if you happen to know the person running the recruitment process is some sort of gumby who uses it as an opportunity to play bingo. If that's the case you'll end up ahead by pandering to their favourite buzzwords (or wearing cat themed novelty ties if that's their favourite corporate style, or whatever inane nonsense they view as being critical in evaluating your value to the company).

    Note: Appreciate the irony in the above - I too have done a fair bit of recruitment, so my assumption is that this means that my personal views are also pearls of wisdom that need to be shared as gospel.

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