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Answering Personal Questions During an Interview

Updated: May 10



We all expect to be asked about our career goals, work experience, and competencies during a job interview, but how do you answer more personal questions? Your interviewer will be looking for a good fit for their team and company culture, and to do this, they will want to get to know you personally.

 

This article is to help job-seekers prepare for questions about their personality, hobbies, and what motivates them, and will help them give genuine and positive answers. So, spend some time reviewing these typical personal interview questions and example responses, before your interview:

 

"What Do You Do for Fun?"


You might get asked, "What do you do in your spare time?", "What are your hobbies?" or even, "What do you do outside of work?", but these questions are all asking about the same thing: who you are as a person. When interviewers ask you about your hobbies, it might seem like friendly small talk, but there is a lot of helpful information in your answer for a hiring manager.

 

Your interviewer could want to:


  • See if any of your personal interests are useful for the position.

  • See if you have hobbies that support a healthy work-life balance, preventing burnout and reducing stress.

  • See how well you will get on with the rest of your team on a personal level.

  • Make small talk... sometimes it really is that simple!


Tips for Answering Interview Questions About Your Hobbies


1. Make a list of all your hobbies.

2. Decide which hobbies make you a good candidate because of the skills you use.

3. Decide which hobbies show you have a healthy work-life balance.

4. Decide which hobbies show you practice good interpersonal skills.

 

If any of your hobbies are examples of great transferable skills, demonstrate a great work-life balance, and show you practice great interpersonal skills, you have won the interview lottery; definitely use this as one of your examples! You should also try to link most of your hobbies back to the job role if possible. You don't need to do that for every hobby because you don't want to sound like a robot; sometimes hobbies are just for fun!

 

Remember to always be honest about your interests, because you will probably be asked more about them. You are preparing for a long-term position, and you don't want to pretend you love jazz for 2 years if you know nothing about it.

 

Example scenario: Content Producer / Project Manager role. Interviewee's hobbies include cooking, reading, going on walks, binge-watching documentaries, talking about TV series' with friends, and playing video games.

 

Example answer:


“In my free time, I enjoy cooking, which is similar to project management in terms of planning and exploring new methods. I'm also a history buff and I watch a lot of documentaries, which keeps me curious and open-minded. When I want to relax and de-stress, I like walking and playing video games. That helps me refresh in the evening so I have a clear head for the next day. I also love just hanging out with friends and chatting about current TV series', and it keeps me up to date with popular culture. I like hobbies that keep me creative, adaptable, and on-trend - all qualities I think are great for project managers.”

 

"What Motivates You at Work?"


When an interviewer asks you what motivates you to achieve workplace goals and be successful, they want to hear an honest and thoughtful response that shows why you are the best fit for the job. The good news is you must be motivated to have got this far, so think about why you are, and then how you can make the most of that motivation in your answers.

 

You might be asked, "What inspires you?", "What drives you to meet challenges?", "What excites you about your work? or, "What makes you want to get up every day for work?". Start by talking about your strong drive for results, and why that's important to you. The answer will be different for everyone; maybe you like feeling satisfied with a job well done, maybe you enjoy working as part of a team towards a shared goal, or maybe you want to create the best experience for your company's clients.

 

Whatever motivates you? Think about these important points:


  • What specific examples can you give from your previous roles?

  • Does your answer show genuine interest, and that you are a great fit for staying motivated in the role you are applying for?

  • Does your example show how the outcomes you enjoy are also good for the company?


This is also a great opportunity to talk about how you do your best work when you have clear goals and plenty of time to strategize on how to achieve them.

 

Example Answer


“What really drives me is the chance to create something that people can really connect with. I love the process of turning an idea into a real project that can reach and engage an audience. Working with a team, solving problems along the way, and finally seeing the end result is very satisfying for me. I also enjoy the fact that the field of content creation is always changing. It offers me plenty of new things to learn and keeps me excited and motivated.”

Next Steps


Personal interview questions can feel uncomfortable to answer. We don't normally discuss our personal interests with someone we've just met. Try to remember that it could be small talk to make you feel comfortable, but it is usually to find out who you are as a person, how balanced your life is between work and home, and what skills you might have in your private life that could benefit the company.

 

What motivates us to do our jobs is often strongly related to our personal values. You might be asked, "What are you passionate about?" and feel that this is the same as the other personal questions we've talked about here. And while these questions do have a lot in common, there are some differences in what your interviewer is looking for, and the things it's helpful to think about when answering them. You can find separate guidance on answering values-based interview questions here.

 

Tips for Giving The Best Answers to Personal Interview Questions:


  • Talk about hobbies you’re actively involved in. You want to show you can do good work and keep up with your hobbies at the same time.


  • Know a lot about the examples you give. There will be follow-up questions! So choose something you can easily talk about in detail.


  • Give specific examples. So you love running? Tell your interviewer a personal story about your running. Team work motivates you? When has this made a big difference to you at work?


  • Make a connection to the job or company. Show how the skills you use in your free time, and what motivates you, are great for your career and for the company.


  • Be genuine and let your personality shine through. People can tell when you really care about something, and your interviewer will notice. It's easy to trust someone who truly wants success for their team and for their company.


At the end of the interviewing process, it's your unique personal responses that can help you stand out from a crowd of applicants who all have similar professional qualifications! So, be genuine and be you. Just make sure you explain why that makes you an excellent hire for the role.

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