The Importance of 'I' During An Interview

An interview can be a stressful experience for a candidate. You will not be alone in thinking after an interview “I wish I would have answered that question differently”. However, this is part of the experience of interviewing and learning from success and failures. Candidates can fail interviews for multiple reasons. However, failure to articulate your specific responsibilities and achievements, shouldn't be one of them.

One way in which candidates have failed to address responsibilities and achievements effectively, is through the lack of use of “I”. When describing responsibilities and achievements, it is essential to be specific and give the interviewer a clear understanding of what your responsibilities and achievements are. This is where the use of “I” becomes crucial. I’ve interviewed candidates and they have used “we” on several occasions to describe responsibilities.

The problem with the overuse of “we”, is it leaves the interviewer questioning what your specific role was within the organisation and what you contributed. The client is not hiring a team; they are hiring an individual, with clearly defined responsibilities and expected outcomes. The use of “we” in this context can give the impression of a lack of confidence in your own abilities and lack of success in the role.

"The client is not hiring a team; they are hiring an individual"

There are of course exceptions to this and some organisations put the focus on “we” as opposed to “I”, such as non-profit organisations. It can also depend on the role within the organisation. So it is vital you understand the culture of the business before interviewing and the focus of the role. There is nothing wrong with using “we”, because it can also provide a negative impression if the interviewer believes you are trying to take credit for everything a business has achieved.

My advice to candidates, is to clearly list prior to the interview, your responsibilities and how they contributed to the wider business objectives and the purpose your role serves within the business. Then as a result of your actions, what achievements you have accomplished and how they have impacted the business. Finally, how your experience can benefit your potential new employer. 

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