News & Views

Are you falling into the ‘we’ trap?

“We are not amused.”

Most people are familiar with the quote attributed to Queen Victoria, apparently in response to a slightly racy story that a visiting royal equerry told at dinner.  Also known as the ‘majestic plural’, using ‘we’ when referring to  oneself is pretty uncommon, although Margaret Thatcher was once much derided for her public statement that ‘We have become a grandmother’…..

However, with so much emphasis nowadays on being a team player and working collaboratively, it’s no wonder that when asked to give examples of a particular situation, candidates often use ‘we’ rather than ‘I’.  However, for interview success, using ‘we’ should definitely be avoided, unless you are specifically referring to something that you did in conjunction with others. Once you’ve established that it was a team activity or project, you should then quickly move to specifying exactly what it was that you contributed – the interviewer wants to hire you, not the whole team!

As an interviewer, be wary of the candidate that constantly refers to ‘we’. Often it’s because they are trying to amplify what it is they have achieved, and the part they played in the delivery. When a candidate says ‘we’, ask them to clarify who they mean by ‘we’ – was it a team of people, one or two individuals? This will help you get to the bottom of what the candidate actually delivered.


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