Most of us feel overwhelmed and anxious before a job interview. Preparation ahead of time will help you perform at your very best. However, it's not adequate preparation unless you've put some thought into personal interview questions or questions about yourself. A personal interview is how the recruiters assess you personally – your personality, your work ethic, how you handle stress, how well you fit into the company culture, etc. 

In this article, we discuss some commonly asked personal interview questions and how to answer them appropriately so that you can ace your next big interview.

What Is a Personal Interview?

When you appear for a job interview, you expect interviewers to ask you questions about your employment history, professional skills and qualifications, educational background, and career goals. But you'll also be asked some personal interview questions.

A personal interview is usually a face-to-face meeting or two-way communication between the recruiter and the candidate. The recruiter seeks to determine how well the candidate could fit in with the job and the organization. In contrast, the candidate aims to impress the recruiter and show that they are the best fit for the job and the organization.

Importance of a Personal Interview

A personal interview is a necessary part of the recruitment process. Such an interview offers enormous benefits to both the recruiter and the job candidate as both parties can make an informed, mutually beneficial choice. It helps employers select suitable candidates while it helps job aspirants market their skills to the organization. In a personal interview, the interviewer will test the candidate's analytical skills in ways not possible in a written test.

Top Personal Interview Questions and Answers

Here are some examples of common personal interview questions and tips on how to answer them effectively. These personal interview questions and sample answers will give you an idea of the type of personal interview questions to expect and the appropriate way to respond.

1. Tell us about yourself.

Give a quick summarization of yourself. Begin by discussing your present role, highlighting main, relevant achievements and responsibilities. Mention two to three of your achievements that you want the interviewer to know about. Go on to how these experiences helped you prepare for this particular job role. Make sure you touch upon your educational background and employment history. Finish by connecting your background, interests and qualifications with the job role.

2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Make sure you provide relevant strengths and irrelevant weaknesses while answering this question. Try to mention strengths that are relevant to the industry, and weaknesses that are not related to your performance in the job role. For example, your strengths can be effective communication, attention to detail and ability to work hard. Use humor while talking about weakness (say eating chocolates or French fries) and add minor ones like being too empathetic towards other people’s problems.

3. If you could be an animal for a day, who would you want to be and why?

Although seemingly irrelevant, this is one of the most frequently asked personal interview questions. Your answer and the way you justify it reflects your ready wit and ability to react quickly.

For best results, frame your answer to match the job role you’re applying to. Choose from animals like Dolphin (stands for teamwork), dog (stands for a wide variety of qualities like loyalty, friendliness), moose (for strength and pride), deer (loyal, kind, cautious), giraffe (ability to look ahead and determine the future course of action), goat (one who climbs the highest mountains to find answers) and give reasons for your choice.

4. Describe yourself in three to five words.

It is best if your answer relates to the job description. You can describe yourself as loyal, passionate, funny and cautious.

5. Why did you leave your last job?

To answer this question, try to avoid use of negative language while referring to your present or previous employer. Instead, give reasons like looking for better opportunities or seeking professional growth. Frame your answer in a way that highlights why this job that you’re applying for is more appropriate for you.

6. What motivates you?

This is an open-ended question through which the interviewer wants to know why and how you’re motivated to accomplish workplace goals and be successful at your job.

Impress the interviewer with an honest yet thoughtful answer that can demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job

You can begin by stating that you’re really driven by results. You prefer it when you have a concrete goal to achieve and sufficient time to plan a strategy for accomplishing it. Cite relevant examples from your previous jobs.

7. What kind of compensation are you looking for?

Although an uncomfortable subject, money matters can be handled gracefully. One way to answer this can be to turn the tables by saying something like “My expectation is a salary that’s at par with current employees who are working at the same level. I believe I can prove myself an asset to this company. If you agree, may I hear your offer?”

Make sure you research beforehand and find out how much others are making in this position. Once you know the range, you are better equipped to quote the higher number based on your skills and experience, but make it clear to the interviewer that you are willing to negotiate.

8. Do you work better alone or as part of a team?

Most employers look for employees who have the ability to collaborate and compromise. However, if you’re unsure of the specific demand for the job, say that you prefer a mixture of the two. Mention that though you love working in a team, sometimes you find it necessary to brainstorm things on your own.

9. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Ambition is always a desirable trait in an employee. In your answer, state that you’d like to have more responsibilities in an organization that values you, your skills and your contribution. Mention that you’re certain the next five years will be mutually progressive for you and your organization.

10. What was the last book that you read?

The kind of books you read indicates a great deal about you, so your answer can make an strong impact, especially if the job applied for requires you to be well read.

You can start by saying that you read books of all genres, but you’re inclined towards reading a particular kind of books. Talk about a book you liked, its genre, what it is about, and what do you think about it.

11. Who has inspired you the most and why?

The people we admire reflect who we are and what we aspire. You can choose to talk about some famous personality or even people in your life. Mention the qualities you admire in that person, how he/she has influenced your life, and what you have achieved due to such influence.

12. How do you deal with criticism?

It is not easy to tackle criticism. Say that though you find criticism underwhelming, you also believe that criticism is essential to move ahead in life as without it there would not be much growth. When you receive criticism, you try to hear out the problem, and if you’re at fault you’ll own up your mistakes. As an example, talk about an incident where you handled criticism well. This will reflect sincerity and assure the interviewer that you’re open to constructive feedback and can handle criticism well.

13. What are you passionate about?

The interviewer wants to understand where your interests lie and use that to assess your nature.

Take this as an opportunity to talk about yourself and describe a hobby or activity that you follow. Discuss in detail why it makes you happy.

14. Which is more important – salary or work-life balance?

Choose whatever is more important to you and support your answer with reasons. Say it is hard to choose between the two because both are very important. Salary is the incentive to work, but without work-life balance there would be no personal life at all.

15. What are your career goals?

This question allows the interviewer to understand your ambitions, goals and also how long you intend to stay with the company. Make sure you answer with a well-drafted, realistic career plan and clearly state your short-term and long-term goals. Talk about them one by one.

You can state that your immediate plans are to upskill yourself with the latest technologies in your practice by the end of the year. As for the long term goals, mention that you want to be an established professional in a senior position in your field in the coming years.

16. Do you have any questions for me?

This can be a typical way to end personal interview questions. You can ask about the company, growth opportunities for employees, corporate structure, new products or services, about the interviewer’s experience at the company. Avoid asking questions about salary or benefits as those will be discussed later if you’re offered the job.

Our Learners Also Asked

1. What are good questions for a personal interview?

Here are some good questions that are commonly asked during a personal interview:

  • What are you passionate about? 
  • Are you easy to talk to?
  • How do you handle stress and pressure?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What motivates you? 
  • When was the last time you were angry? 

2. What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer?

Here some great questions to ask your interviewer that shows active interest in the job:

  • Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?
  • How could I impress you in the first three months? 
  • Are there opportunities for training and progression within the role/company? 
  • Where do you think the company is headed in the next five years?
  • Can you describe the working culture of the organisation?

3. What are the 5 hardest interview questions?

Here is a lit of the 5 hardest interview questions to answer:

  • What is your biggest weakness? 
  • What salary do you think you deserve? 
  • Why should I hire you? 
  • What didn't you like about your last job? 
  • Where do you see yourself in three to five years?
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We hope with these personal interview Q&As and tips, you’re now ready to ace your next interview. For more interview tips, career-building guidance, and resources, follow Simplilearn’s Resource Section to access a world of expert-led courses and tutorials. 

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