Don’t use these words in your job interview

  • Post published:02/02/2022
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Are you thinkingWhich of these two choices of words do you think score highest in a job interview? 

When answering the interview questions, do you use “we and us” or do you prefer “I and me”?

I will give you a hint. Hints.

What is politically correct is irrelevant

My question to you: Are we going to hire you as an individual or are we talking about hiring the whole team?

Would you agree that in 99.9% of job interviews, it is you and your experience that is on the line?

This blog could then conveniently end here. The answer is a given. A job interview is about YOU.

You may think it is politically correct to show that it is all about teamwork, that you cannot do everything on your own, and that you do not want to come across as an arrogant monster who does not appreciate that we are all in the same boat, and blah blah blah.

I’ll say again: The job interview is about YOU.

What is the purpose of a job interview?

A job interview is still a crucial and essential part of the hiring process.

Recruiters and hiring managers use interviews to learn more about your background and skills and whether you’d be a good fit for the company.

The job interview is your chance to highlight your experience and skills to show what you can offer aligns with the job description.

Hiring staff is a calculated risk

You sometimes see comments that job interviews are old-fashioned and no guarantee that you end up hiring the best candidate.

OK, I agree. To a certain extent. Not perfect but the best we have.

No number of interview rounds, reference checks, background investigation, psychometric and cognitive assessments will ever give you a 100% clear picture. There will always be an unknown and a risk.

Obviously, if you do all of the above activities rather than just reading the resume and then decide, you will have reduced the uncertainty greatly.

But, we are dealing with human beings who change, adapt, and react to the given situation. You are not buying a calculator.

Don’t use these words in the interview

Recruiters are trained to listen for clues that will help determine if you, and you alone, or perhaps your boss, peers or colleagues were the main contributors.

A professional recruiter will stop you when you say “we and us” – they will ask: Who is “we”?

Tom Sorensen, Headhunter

Tough questionExample when asking the candidate to describe an actual tough negotiation. The candidate used “we” repeatedly to explain a particularly interesting and exciting negotiation with a customer.

Asked Who Is We, it turned out that it was the candidate’s boss who was conducting the actual negotiation whilst the candidate was simply in the same meeting room to observe.

I don’t’ know about you, but experience in negotiating would be credited the boss and not the candidate for just watching. Agree?

In summary, in a job interview as a candidate, you must use the words I and me. Again and again. Only and only the words I and me.

Talking about how you shoot yourself in the foot in a job interview as a candidate, here are another few things to avoid when asked:

  • I do not get along with my boss at all. I don’t like him.
  • My last company is a disaster and not a place I recommend to anyone.
  • Sorry, I know I don’t have any experience in this, but…
  • It’s in my resume.
  • Yes.

If you like to read more on this subject, Leadership IQ analysed more than 20,000 actual interview answers to discover what separates the good ones from the bad ones. Google: Words That Cost You The Job Interview.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.