Life is an amazing journey. We are born with nothing and die with nothing, but in-between those two points in time, we experience ups and downs and meet hundreds of people. Some of them venture into our life for a brief moment only. And some stay there for decades. And then you have a special group, people who impacted your life in a major way. Those who helped you shape your values and opinions, or even make you to change them completely. Or people who gave you a helping hand in your humble beginnings, and helped you reach the life you live right now. Think about it for a while. Every meeting has an impact on our life, regardless of whether we realize it or not.

Anyway, when facing this question in an interview–be it a job interview or a school admission interview, you do not necessarily have to come up with something groundbreaking. The key is to show your ability to give other people credit, to appreciate the value of human connections, and to show that you are a grateful individual, someone who can appreciate good things in life, instead of constantly complaining about this or that thing.

The person who has impacted your life can be someone very close to you–your mother, brother, your son or daughter, your life partner. But it can also be a role model you looked up to, such as some sporting celebrity, or a scientist, and have been trying to model your life after. You can also opt for a rather philosophical answer, giving credit to all people you’ve been lucky to meet in your life. Let’s have a look at sample answers for each of these options and more.


7 sample answers to “Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why” interview question

  1. My mother. And I mean it in a good way. She always tried to raise me in a humble way, without spoiling me as a child. She encouraged me to ask questions, and to read a lot. And she never tried to convince me to follow her faith or her views. On the contrary, she wanted to me find my own path in life, to decide on my own. I am forever grateful to her, and definitely my life would not be the same without her. And I hope to follow her example one day when I also have my own family.
  2. It may surprise you, but I have to pick my daughter. Before having her, when I was living on my own, life was simple in a way. You tried something, it didn’t work, you moved on. If you didn’t like the city, you got a rent in a new one, found some job, and went on with life. But as a single mother, I couldn’t roam around freely anymore. And it isn’t a bad thing. Because my daughter made me more responsible, and she taught me to plan life, to plan my days, to set goals, to try to actually give my life some structure. She has impacted the way I spend my days more than anyone else has ever done, and I guess there won’t be anyone with such an impact from now on.
  3. No doubt it is my husband, Noah. He was the half I have been always missing, and made my life complete. Of course, we experience arguments sometimes–it belongs to every marriage, but we also complement each other wonderfully, and I feel my life is so much better with him. We learn from each other, and help each other to grow both personally and professionally. He has impacted my life in a way nobody has ever done.
  4. My answer may surprise you, but I have to pick one of my high school teachers, Mr. B. As many others, I had my crisis of adolescence a few years ago. Suddenly I didn’t see a point in studying, and almost dropped out of high school. I hanged up with wrong guys, got involved in addictions, and so on. Many people gave up on me, but Mr. B didn’t. He got me some books to read, and often talked to me in person. Believing in my potential as a student and helping me to see a meaningful purpose in life, he helped me get back on track, graduate, and eventually be able to apply for a place at your college. Without him I would likely sit in prison now, or roam the streets. But I have a clear direction in life, and I am motivated to reach my goals. Credit goes to the teacher, and I am eternally grateful for the connection.
  5. I have to go with Mahatma Gandhi. I’ve been his admirer since childhood, and the way he acted towards others and lived his life has had a profound impact on my decisions, and my own relationships. I think it is great to have a role model you can look up to. Of course, I realize I am not going to become the next Gandhi, though no doubt our age would need one. But I have my own path, my own dreams, and whenever I am unsure how to approach this or that situation, I can think what my role model would do in the same situation. It helps a great deal to be honest.
  6. I think it would be a mistake to give credit to one person only. In my opinion, every interaction we have impacts our life, though the way in which it does it isn’t always obvious. But all the words we here and scenes we seen in interactions with others form us, and no doubt have some impact on our decisions, and subsequently on our life. The way I am today, the way I think and talk to you, is the result of all these interactions. Some people may have played a bigger role than others, but then you also never really know. I can just say that I am grateful for the diversity of my connections, and cannot wait to get to know even more interesting people at your school.
  7. Actually it was a stranger. It is a situation I will never forget. I was walking home from work, lost in thoughts after another difficult day, tired, and with headphones. It was raining and the visibility was poor. Walking the same streets every day I didn’t pay particular attention to what was going on around me. However, exactly on that day the city changed the traffic signs, and I, unaware of it and absent from my surroundings, walked straight into the line of a car that was speeding its way. Suddenly I saw it, just meters away, still going pretty fast. I froze. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was a short instant, but a random passerby grabbed me and and pulled me back, so I escaped the collision at the last moment. This person has impacted my life more than anyone else, since without him I would likely not live anymore. Or I would end up on a wheelchair, or whatever. Anyway, I am eternally grateful to him, and walk with my eyes open ever since. Not only to avoid making the same mistake, but also to be able to help someone else in a similar situation…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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