During Job Interviews, Be Specific About Your Achievements

February 2nd, 2009 by lewis

The Careers Group Library Blog has a wonderful blog post on how to answer difficult job interview questions.  Elaborating on tip #5, many candidates discuss their achievements in the language of “we” not “I.”  For instance, job interview candidates often explain, “we discussed our options, we decided this by vote, we did this.”
Given today’s team-oriented environments, it’s natural to speak in “we” language.  But as a hiring manager, I want to know a person’s specific contribution to a project:
  • Were they the leader or follower in the project?  
  • Did the phenomenal results come from a new process the candidate invented?  
  • Are the results simply an output of a process perfected by someone else?
Don’t be modest.  It’s your job interview, and take individual credit where credit is due.

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One Response to “During Job Interviews, Be Specific About Your Achievements”

  1. February 03, 2009 at 3:26 am, Helen said:

    Thanks Lewis. It is a difficult balance to find sometimes.

    I think a good way to answer a question about team work is to start by describing what the team achieved, what we did; then specify what you contributed towards that success.

    People are sometimes afraid of sounding domineering if they say ‘I led the team’ or of sounding too submissive if they didn’t. If you go into the specifics, you can say:

    – ‘I took the role of team leader, which meant that I kept an eye on progress ensuring we met the schedule, I encouraged people to contribute ideas…’ etc. You don’t sound bossy, and you demonstrate your style of leadership.

    – If you weren’t the leader, you can say ‘I took responsibility for completing task X, I created process Y to do it, and got person Z to assist with the administration as needed.’ Then you demonstrate positive competencies of creativity, communication, as well as aspects of leadership for your task.