How Personal is Too Personal?

Personal questions have always been apart of the interview process, and for good reason. Personal questions can lead to learning more about the individual and how their personality is going to play in the position. That’s pivotal for many of the opportunities hiring managers are hiring for. Unfortunately, the black and white area that should be interviews can quickly turn into a dreary gray area with undefined lines. When the lines get blurred, it’s hard to tell whether or not you’ve crossed them.

Asking about a candidate’s family, for example, can help you to get answers as to whether or not they have prepared to have their children taken care of on school holidays or breaks. Asking about a candidate’s favorite sports team or hobby can break the ice and make the candidate — and yourself — more comfortable when talking to each other. For example, if you are hiring for a position in which the candidate will be closely working with a group of other employees, certain personal questions can help you discover whether or not the person will fit in with the company’s work environment. But diving into certain areas can lead to discrimination allegations and worse. When you get into small talk, the answers can be just as important as those that are directly related to the job, but it can also open windows to talking about race, gender, religion and sexual preference.

These things are all cases for discrimination which an interviewee may see as the reason they’re not hired. When asking personal questions, it’s pivotal to word them in a way that is not going to lead to an answer that dictates any of these discrimination-potential details about themselves.

Personal questions can also give you an idea of how comfortable the candidate is when speaking. If they can answer the questions truthfully and still make it relevant to the position, you may just have your next employee.

Common questions you’ve probably asked hundreds of time include

  • How do you find the balance between work and home?
  • Where do you see yourself 5/10 years from now?
  • What are some of your pet peeves?
  • What would change from your past and why?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses/strengths?

All of these questions have the potential to give you not only answers about the candidate’s personal life and goals, but also how they’re going to handle some of the daily interactions they will meet in the position.

The goal with getting personal is just that — and more. You want to break the ice, you want the candidate to become comfortable talking with you so you can see their true personalities. You also want to find out how their past experiences and personal life are going to influence their work.

Be Sociable, Share!