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Are You Asked Personal Questions During an Interview?

imageA lot has changed over the years. You could be asked all kinds of questions during an interview back in the day, like are you married, do you have kids, your age or do you believe in God. Questions like these are no longer asked because of discrimination lawsuits. So, a lot of companies try to get personal in the interview.  Small companies are like families. They want to get to know ya. Large corporations are very sterile, rigid and usually follow strict guidelines on how interviews are conducted.

So my question to you is this? Are you asked personal questions during an interview? If you are, believe it or not, this is a good thing. Yes. Asking personal questions will actually help you in the long run. Why? Because the person asking personal questions wants to know if you’re likable. Basically if you are a fit for their group. It’s a family. They want someone that will gel with the gang. Here is what I’m trying to really explain….

Let’s say you’re on a phone interview and the hiring manager asks you what is your favorite movie? Do you like going to movies and who is your favorite actor? What was the last movie you’ve seen? Do you have Netflix and what is your favorite TV show? These are like icebreakers but they also gives you the opportunity to be yourself. To loosen up a bit and will later on give some more honest answers to various challenges you’ve faced in your career. But, let’s say you’re the type of person who doesn’t give a rip about movies or TV. You just want a job. You give a simple answer to let the interviewer know that you don’t go to movies. That closes the door. So you see, you may not watch movies or TV but you closed the door. UNLESS, you give an answer to question that might open another door. For example, you don’t watch movies or TV but you play guitar and you’re in a band. That’s keeping the door open to have some personal questions asked so that you can have a connection with the interviewer. Basically, it’s a way to find something in common, a shared interest like football, movies or even knitting! Whatever that helps to make that connection and be personal at times during a mundane interview process.

Why are personal questions so important?

Because small companies want YOU to be someone they “like”. Big companies want YOU to be someone that can work with others. Being asked personal questions about hobbies, weather, your city, team sports, music and etc….it’s important for that hiring manager. It’s something they can have a connection with to help you be yourself. They get to know you a little bit even if you’re very reserved and have little to say.

One time I was interviewing a candidate. I noticed that he went to a University and I was fan of their football team. I asked him if he went to any of the games and he said he could care less and reverted the conversation right back to the J O B. I tried another angle about the city he lived in but he gave a short reply and again went right back the job. Maybe the dude was on a tight time schedule. Maybe he was at work. But he was all about the opportunity. Well, in fact, later on he revealed that he was all about getting a job and was this job a fit for him. Big Problem! I knew the team. He was interviewing for a managerial role. The team and managers were a playful bunch. They want someone they can talk to, laugh with, cry to, complain to while punching and screaming about daily issues. This candidate couldn’t be “real” for a moment. No personality over the phone what-so-ever. And, the candidate didn’t want to bothered by even small talk. BUT, when I asked him what he knew about the company, he gave a lame response to that too. Plop. Trash. His resume went. No next round for him. He was rejected.

On the other hand, some personal questions are unacceptable like are you pregnant, your age, or you go to church? If you’re ever asked those type of personal questions, they make you feel uncomfortable. And the person asking them is an asshole. You should get off the phone or walk out of the interview immediately. You would never want to work for someone that wants to know what your race, gender, religion and etc. during an interview.

If you are asked personal questions like some of the good ones I mentioned above, those are doors of opportunities. It gives the interviewer and immediate opportunity to have a connection with the interviewee. To be themselves and share something you both like while going through your skills and background. Just something to think about if you ever find it odd if a hiring manager wants to ask more personal questions.

About Michael Glenn

I am a talent acquisition consultant, trainer and motivator for jobseekers and recruiters. I specialize in helping others find opportunities and bringing top talent to companies.

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