I am, of course, talking about excessive use of the personal pronoun “I” in an interview. (You got that, didn’t you?)
The job search process is a mentally and emotionally challenging time for any executive. The internal dialogue begins from the moment that they make the decision to look for a new role (or have the decision made for them).
It naturally focuses on their position in the world, what they have achieved in the past and where they see themselves in the future.
These inner voices are firmly in the first person. What have I achieved? What qualities can I bring to an organization? What do I want out of my next role? How can I demonstrate my team building skills?
Well, in response to the last question, not by saying “I” all the time in an interview…..
A great interview is about telling a rounded story – taking the interviewers on a journey of your success and personal development
Executive and managerial roles are about consensus building – knowing who to influence and how to get things done. At every level, a business is as strong as the sum of its parts. Very little is achieved in isolation.
There has been some recent research published in the Financial Times into the correlation between the speech patterns of CEOs and the success of their companies. The CEOs who said “I” more often were enjoying less success relative to those who said “we”
There may be a perception of selfishness when people constantly talk about themselves, but it is an interview after all, what are they supposed to do?
The answer is simple. Give credit where it is due.
Agreed, the interviewers are not interested in how Greg helped you do the deal, but they are interested in your personal role and how you collaborated to make it happen. They want to know how you solved the problems together – they don’t expect all the answers to appear magically in your head.
They want to know about the disagreements, the best-laid plans, the obstacles. It is rare that you are the sole contributor.
A great interview is about telling a rounded story – taking the interviewers on a journey of your success and personal development. The best stories have a supporting cast of complementary characters. Think about the detail of the picture that you are painting.
Which of these candidates would you rather work with?
“I renegotiated the contract and singlehandedly delivered the best cost savings in the company. I improved the payment terms and resolved some long-standing payment disputes. I drove the process from start to finish.”
“We successfully renegotiated the best cost savings on a contract that year. In conjunction with the Legal and Finance Directors, we improved the payment terms and settled some long-standing payment disputes. We collaborated on a highly successful team effort.”
Next time you say “I”, could you actually be saying “we”?