One of my biggest pet peeves and one of the biggest interviewing faux pauxs that people make is using the word "we" in an interview. As in, "Well, what WE did was build the models using SAS." We? Is there a mouse in your pocket or something? What's this we crap? I am not interviewing your company or your team, I am interviewing YOU. I want to know what YOU do. How is an interviewer to decipher between what YOU do and what your co-workers did if you keep using the term "we"? An interview is intended to identify candidate skills and personality, not to hear what cool thing your company is doing or how your team worked on a project (unless you managed the team.) This is my memo to the world of job seekers: talk about YOU and what YOU do and what YOUR skills are. Avoid "we" talk. It's frustrating and in the end if I can't tell what YOU do, I'm not going to place you anywhere.
If you do have a mouse in your pocket: seek help.
I could see if you are recruiting administrative or human resource professionals that learning about what team work a candidate has is great but when you are trying to tell the very miniscule difference between an analyst and a modeler--you need detail. Misuse of pronouns can make a big difference in your interview.
If it's something Bad - like company the coffee machine. Using "We" or "They" is a perfectly fine.
"WE had really bad Coffee at my last job, but I didn't drink it since I was heads down coding all the time."
If the candidate struggles with this initially. What's wrong with the old follow up... "Well, what did you do?" "how did you contribute?". It's kinda like hedging your bets, like the Project Manager who tells you the project he/she was working on was worth $25 Million. Cool, how much of that were you responsible for? "Oh my part was worth $50,000"
But pushing candidates on the "Well, what did you do?" bit it'll help coach them for you and for others later on (hopefully)
It just goes to show how important it is to practice answering interview questions! For some interviews, if I know what the interviewer is going to ask, I will go through the questions with my candidates (or at least one question as a sample) and have them respond like they would to an interviewer and then tell them where their reply may be confusing or unclear.
You make a good point, Dan. People LOVE talking about themselves but when it comes to an interview a lot of people (even really good professionals) have a hard time talking about themselves. I know I did when I started my job hunt years ago but then I noticed questions that everyone seemed to ask (like, "What are your positive attributes as an employee?" and "What are your negative attributes as an employee?") and I would practice my response, even write it out. Eventually I could sail through an interview without muttering to myself and staring at the ceiling for answers. So if you are looking for a job--do your research on interview questions! It will help!!!
Great points Jane, what can we do further to give this information to candidates?
This causes me to dig deeper and ask questions like "what are 2 or 3 SPECIFIC things YOU did to contribute to that?" or "Give me 1 or 2 ideas YOU implemented to raise/save money in YOUR role there?"
Often you will validate these "we" people were not the stars on the team when you really dig down. Sometimes they are, that's the importance of getting real specific with them.
And Dan, I think we've all been there! Lord knows I interviewed at dozens of places right out of college and was stunned by the questions I was expected to answer! It's also important to note that formulated, cheesey answers are BAD. So if an interviewer asks, "What are 2 or 3 of your weaknesses as an employee?" You should never answer: "Well, I just work so hard I don't give myself a break!" CHEESEY! Employers can see right through that! Seriously sit and think of your weaknesses in your job performance. Maybe you're not a good phone person, maybe you're not good at giving presentations b/c you get nervous. Employers want to know so they know if they can work with and around your weaknesses or not!
I don't know how to bring this information to candidates besides telling them one-by-one! Haha. There are plenty of job seeker resources out there. I think a blog on your company website is a good tool also!
Sometimes though, they use "we," because "I" simply didn't do anything :-)