When to Say “We” vs “I” in an Interview

March 10, 2015

Career Advice

14485059353_8d009d4eb3_zYou. Me. We. Such little words but they can have a big impact, especially during an interview. Fortune recently wrote a piece on “The two most important words in a job interview.” You guessed it — they are “we” and “I.” It turns out that recruiters and interviewers are not only paying attention to the answers you give during an interview but also dissecting them for verbal clues that can give a glimpse into your work ethic, personality, and potential.

One way to do this is to pay attention to how many times you say “we” in an interview versus  how many times you say “I.” Too many “I’s” and not enough “we’s” means you may be self-centered and like to take too much credit. Too many “we’s” means you might not take the blame when things go south. Here’s a quick guide to when you should say “we” or “I.”

When talking about failures… say I.
Accept accountability for when things went wrong. Don’t place the blame on everyone or everything except yourself. There are always extenuating circumstances that may be out of your control but make sure you keep the “we” to a minimum.

When talking about successes… say we.
Of course you’ve had individual successes in your career, but there were others who likely helped you along the way. Give credit when deserved and you’ll show off that you’re not only a team player but potentially a future leader.

Learn more about this topic over at Fortune.

Image via 드림포유/Flickr.

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About Spectrum Brands Careers

Spectrum Brands is a global $5 Billion Consumer Products company headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin. While you may not be familiar with the Spectrum Brands name, there is no doubt you will recognize some of our brands.

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One Comment on “When to Say “We” vs “I” in an Interview”

  1. Craig Says:

    Yes, being accountable and humble are definitely admirable traits. However, when saying “we” when describing successes/accomplishments could also be an indication that one wasn’t directly responsible for the success, but rather just “along for the ride.” Whlie you don’t want to be conceited, you shouldn’t be afraid to “toot your own horn.” Perhaps a suitable response might be something like…
    “Our department was able to lower expenses by $x and my contribution consisted of y which accounted for $z of the reduction.”

    Reply

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