Many things matter for the employers.
Besides your education and experience, they are interested in your motivation, attitude, your goals, your personal traits.
They try to get a good grasp of you as a person, understanding who you are, what you like, and if all of that fits their company, and the job you try to get.
For some roles (think sales, HR, retail, teaching) your personality is actually more important than your experience in the field, or education.
For this reason they will ask you some personal questions, questions that are often categorized as screening questions (they do actually form a special sub-category of screening questions).
Do they really need to ask personal questions?
A skilled HR manager should tell your personal traits, and strengths and weaknesses, from the way you walk, talk, look at them, and answer any questions or tests in an interview. And they should do it with great precision.
But we should not forget that not all interviewers are skilled in what they do.
Think about a CEO of a small business–perhaps leading their first ever job interview, or a person who is just starting in human resources.
Or perhaps a recruiter who has chosen a wrong job, someone who was not gifted with emotional intelligence and truly struggles with assessing someone’s personality.
For all these people (and a chance that you will meet one of them in an interview is not little), your answers to personal questions are truly helpful, and make sense. Let’s have a look at the common questions, and how you should answer them.
Interview questions targeting your personality
- Tell me about yourself. (Try to mention something from both your personal and professional life, suggesting that you have the right personality for the job. You can say what you like to do, and you can even mention some of your strengths and weaknesses. Doing so, you may avoid the questions about your strengths and weaknesses.)
- If you shall characterize your personality in three words only, what would you say? (Three words are three words–you should do exactly what they ask you to do. This question tests also your listening skills and ability to talk to the point. Show some confidence. Pick the strengths that are relevant for your job, and mention them as your core characteristics.)
Characterize yourself in one sentence. (Again, use just one sentence, and try to summarize the value you can bring to their team, if they hire you, that means your experience in the field, your personality that suits the position, etc.)
- If we asked your best friend about you, what would they say? (It is highly unlikely that they will contact your friends after the interview, but it is not impossible. So you can say whatever you want at this point. Claiming that they would say that you were someone they could rely on, or someone extremely responsible, is definitely a good answer.)
- What do you consider your greatest strength? (Try to pick something that is relevant for the job. It can be communication skills, technical skills that are necessary for the job, ability to learn quickly–especially a good choice if you are just starting your career, leadership skills, ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions, etc.)
- What do you consider your biggest weakness? (Choose a weakness that is not essential for the job, an ability that will not limit you in work. This depends strongly on the job you try to get, since what matters for one position can be completely irrelevant for another one.)
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now? (They try to understand if you have some goals, if you know what you want to do later in your life. Try to connect your future with their company, or speak about some goals you have in your private life. Remember that you do not have to stick to the promises you made in an interview. You can say them that you want to be with them for the next ten years, and you can still leave a company in three months time. That is the way employment market works…)
- What are your goals in professional and personal life? (Once again, it is good to show them that you have goals–every responsible person has some goals. Speak with enthusiasm about things you want to achieve, and if you can, show them how the job will help you to achieve the goals you set for yourself.)
- Do you sometimes get angry in work? If yes, why? (You can say that you are a result-driven person, and can get mad when things do not go the right way. Or you can say that you sometimes struggle to forget your personal life when working, and are angry because of things in your private life. One way or another, you should ensure your interviewers that you can control your anger, and do your best to stay calm in work.)
- Do you sometimes feel tired in work? (Everybody is tired sometimes. Try to be honest, and tell them how you fight with tiredness–can be a cup of coffee, can be a short walk in the corridor, can be anything that works for you.)
- How do you motivate yourself in the job? (The key is to show them that you understand how your job relates to your goals, in both personal and private life. You can simply say that the things you want to achieve (or buy for you, or for your family members), or the bills you have to pay each month, help you to stay motivated and work hard every day.
An in depth analysis of the questions, sample answers
You will find multiple great answer to these questions in our viral article dedicated to 15 most common interview questions.
Alternatively, if you are a detail-oriented person, and would like to see an in-depth analysis of each question, you can have a look at in-detail section of Interview Penguin.
Thank you for reading, we wish you good luck in your interview!