Unfortunately, personal questions are an integral part of any interview. Although legally questionable, the recruiter, in an effort to garner more information and determine if you are a good fit, may take some liberties in this area.
No matter what job interview you may have gone for, what industry you belong to and what level of experience you may have, a personal question can be darted at you at any time during the interview. Decide how you will handle all such queries and prepare yourself.
Answering Personal Questions
1. What are these personal questions meant for?
A personal question is an attempt to persuade you to talk about your family, friends and other aspects of your personal life. The questions may appear to be superfluous but there are reasons for asking them.
Some examples of personal questions are:
- Tell me about your family? What do your siblings do?
- Are you in a relationship?
- What are your views towards marriage?
- What do you do in your pastime?
Clearly, all such questions could catch one off guard – so anticipate them and be successful in your response. Answer seriously, keeping in mind the possible intent of interviewer.
2. Intent of the Interviewer
There are valid reasons for asking such questions.
Nimble-footedness: By asking such questions, the interviewer wants to try to grasp your adaptability to change and how well would you be able to handle the same. If in the midst of smooth interview, he pops up a personal question and you fumble answering it; the interview will gauge you are not able to tolerate interruptions and disturbances.
Dependents: Many a times, such questions are asked to assess if you have any dependents to look after. This is primarily done to check whether you can shoulder responsibilities or not. It gives an idea to the interviewer if you would be serious with the job or not.
Interviewer: “Tell me about your family?”
Interviewee: “I have a mother who is a housewife and two younger siblings. My dad is retired from service and occasionally gives classes. My siblings are studying in Junior College.”
Clearly, the interviewer can assess that the interviewee has quite a few dependents.
He can also realize that the interviewee is the SOLE earning member of the family. Thus, ideally he is most suitable for the job. Why? Firstly, he will be serious about his job and be eager to perform. Secondly, he will be committed towards the service and NOT seek change quite often. Thirdly, he would be in a weaker position during salary negotiations (being as he needs a job very much) and this would give an edge to the interviewer.
3. How to answer other personal interview questions
In most countries in the world, many personal questions are considered illegal interview questions and you can refuse to answer (but if you refuse, in most cases, the employer may drop your application and you lose the job opportunity. Although this may also be illegal, practically speaking you may not want to change your job hunt into proffering lawsuits).
Sample topics of personal questions:
- Place of Birth
- Smoking or Drinking
- Disability or Chronic Illness
These are questions that the employer might ask in an endeavor to find as much information as possible about you as a candidate.
If you want to know how to respond and handle these questions refer also to illegal Interview Question article.