How personal should you get in a job interview?
To help you determine what and what not to share during a job interview, we asked experienced hiring managers and HR leaders this question for their best insights. From disclosing only relevant information to keeping your financial standing private, there are several tips that may help you determine what to share in your next job interview.
Here are twelve insights into how personal you should get in a job interview:
- Disclose Only Relevant Information
- Keep the Dirty Laundry Private
- Provide Your Military Experience
- Avoid Sharing Time Consuming Hobbies
- Never Divulge Legal Troubles
- Be Open About Your Mental Health
- Never Speak Badly About Other People
- Bring Your Whole Self to Work
- Take Past Firings Head-On
- Avoid Personal Drama
- Connect a Personal Detail to Your Career
- Keep Your Financial Standing Private
Disclose Only Relevant Information
When interviewing for a job, you want to be personable and show that you’re a good fit for the company’s culture. That said, you do not want to share anything that could be seen as unprofessional or irrelevant – such as a medical condition or living circumstance that won’t affect your ability to perform your duties.
Jonathan Finegold, MedCline
Keep the Dirty Laundry Private
I am a big culture guy so I want to get to know a person beyond the experience detailed on their resume. I want to make sure a potential candidate doesn’t just have the skills to do the job but also the personality to fit into the team. I have often hired someone that may have less experience that I think will contribute to the team more. I can always coach up the skills. One of my favorite questions is “what show are you binging?” However, once when I asked a candidate why she was interested in the job, she said because she was getting a divorce and wanted to start over. She then proceeded to share very intimate details of her impending divorce including infidelity and a gambling addiction. So hold back the truly personal details, especially the drama.
Eric Rutin, Easy Marketing Lessons
Provide Your Military Experience
Some ex-military candidates pass over their military experience and see it as apart from their work experience. This can be a mistake because those experiences show tenacity, dedication, and can show off specific skill sets that can translate to the job. These qualities should not be skimmed over as they can translate directly into qualifications for the role.
Brandon Brown, Grin
Avoid Sharing Time Consuming Hobbies
When you answer the question, “Tell me more about yourself,” you of course want to highlight any significant entrepreneurial efforts or hobbies you have done or are currently tackling. However, you may want to avoid sharing too much if it sounds like something that takes up too much of your time and could pose a potential distraction from the position you’re interviewing for. Though this can potentially be a personal question, you will need to answer this question by giving a more professional perspective, tailored to the position you’re going for.
Jacob Dayan, Community Tax
Never Divulge Legal Troubles
Getting too personal in a job interview is never a good idea, so it’s best to leave out any legal troubles you might be experiencing. Mentioning them could possibly be an immediate red flag for a hiring manager. You want to paint yourself in the best light possible when in a job interview. Sticking to your strengths and focusing on what makes you stand out from other candidates is the best thing to do.
Shaun Price, MitoQ
Be Open About Your Mental Health
We tend to perceive health, especially mental health, as a private matter that shouldn’t be shared. However, candidates should be honest about their mental health difficulties. It allows employers to offer them help and work conditions tailored to their needs.
Tomek Mlodzki, PhotoAiD
Never Speak Badly About Other People
Never speak ill of anyone during an actual interview, especially if it’s completely irrelevant to the job description. Even if there’s a perfectly coherent story behind why you are on bad terms with someone, it’s unlikely the interviewee will grasp the actual situation. Instead, sharing those details can make you come off as hard to get along with. Because everyone wants to welcome an amicable person to their team, don’t give them the wrong impression by airing all of your dirty laundry. Also, don’t forget to send a confirmation email thanking them for their time afterward.
Rachel Blank, Allara
Bring Your Whole Self to Work
“Bring your whole self to work” has been the mantra for many companies. So being as authentic as possible including being comfortable enough to share your personal life, interests, etc is now accepted and almost expected. This means different things for different people, so do what works best for you. The idea of bringing your whole self to work is so that you feel comfortable enough to show up and do your best work. For example, within the marketing industry, many candidates have a significant social media presence. By sharing your personal experience and success on social media as an influencer or any other capacity that demonstrates your marketing skills and abilities, then go for. This speaks volumes for your personal and professional brand.
Phillip Lew, C9 Staff
Take Past Firings Head-On
Don’t assume that an employer is going to disregard your candidacy if you’ve been fired from a previous employer. If you had your employment terminated previously and the hiring manager discovers that from the employer and not you, that might be something you can’t recover from. Be honest. You may have to divulge personal details, but don’t be timid. Be your own advocate. People are fired unjustly all the time. Additionally, people learn from their mistakes. A firing may be harrowing in the moment, but it can make you stronger and better down the line. Convey that message during your interview. Be forthright and confident. Reach a comfort level with the interviewer.
Joel Jackson, Lifeforce
Avoid Personal Drama
You don’t want to give the career services manager the wrong impression about you. If you share dramatic life circumstances, they may get the idea that you’re someone who enjoys stirring the pot (which is not a desirable trait for an office environment). When interviewing, sticking to topics that are relevant to the company job description is a good rule of thumb.
Stephanie Venn-Watson, fatty15
Connect a Personal Detail to Your Career
When I have been interviewed, one thing I try to be sure to mention is that I was captain of my sports team (even though in high school) and through participation in that sport I was able to win a full scholarship to college. My thinking has been that it showed leadership qualities at a young age and dedication to something I found to be important to me in my life, presumably as I would be to the job I was being interviewed for. This, I thought, reinforced other examples of leadership that I was able to discuss in other parts of the interview.
Leo Fischer, Lee Fischer and Associates, Inc.
Keep Your Financial Standing Private
No matter how much you love the job you are interviewing for, it’s also about making money out of it. And one personal detail you need to keep out of the conversation is your financial standing. If you let the interviewer know that you are facing a cash crunch and desperately need the job to correct this situation, you could be grossly underpaid. Another possibility is rejection on the grounds that you may be interviewing for the job only out of financial desperation. Therefore, refrain from talking about your financial status to avoid apparent complications.
Eva Taylor, WP Buffs