A good interviewer will rarely ask this question so directly. If this question is asked this directly, simply ask the person something like, "What is it you would like to know?" In this way you show them that you have nothing to hide. More often, interviewers use casual and friendly conversation to get the information they want. In most cases, the interviewer is digging for information that would indicate you are unstable or undependable.
Other issues may be of concern to an employer as well. Often, these are based on assumptions the person has about people with certain characteristics. These beliefs are often irrelevant (and some may seem to be in bad taste or even illegal), but if the employer wonders whether you can be depended upon, dealing with these doubts is in your own best interest. Be aware that even your casual conversation should always avoid reference to a potential problem area. In responding to a question about your personal situation, be friendly and positive. Your objective is to give employers the answer that they need to have, not just the one they may seem to ask. See chapter 5 for guidelines on handling illegal questions.
Examples of Appropriate Answers
The following responses address the personal issues that employers are most concerned about.
Young children at home:
"I have two children, both in school. Child care is no problem because they stay with a good friend."
Single head of household:
"I'm not married and have two children at home. It is very important to me to have a steady income, so child care is no problem."
Young and single:
"I'm not married, and if I should marry, that would not change my plans for a full-time career. For now, I can devote my full attention to my career."
Just moved here:
"I've decided to settle here in Depression Gulch permanently. I've rented an apartment, and the six moving vans are unloading there now."
"I am one of three children. Both of my parents still live within an hour's flight from here, and I see them several times a year."
"My time is family-centered when I'm not working. I'm also active in several community organizations and spend at least some time each week in church activities."
All of these responses could be expanded on, but they should give you an idea of the types of approaches you can take with your own answers. The message you want to give is that your personal situation will not hurt your ability to work and, indeed, could help it. If your personal life does disrupt your work, expect most employers to lose patience quickly. It is not their problem, nor should it be.
94 Other Frequently Asked Interview Questions
The following list presents questions most often asked by recruiters who interview new graduates at college campuses. Although some of the questions may not apply to your situation, they give you a good idea of the types of questions a trained interviewer might ask you in an interview. Look over the list and check any that would be hard for you to answer well. Then practice coming up with positive answers for those problem questions using the Three-Step Process for answering interview questions that has been used in this chapter.
1. What are your future vocational plans?
2. In what school activities have you participated? Why? Which did you enjoy the most?
3. How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
4. What type of position most interests you?
5. Why do you think you might like to work for our company?
6. What jobs have you held? How were they obtained?
7. What courses did you like best? Least? Why?
8. Why did you choose your particular field of work?
9. What percentage of your school expenses did you earn? How?
10. How did you spend your vacations while in school?
11. What do you know about our company?
12. Do you feel that you have received a good general training?
13. What qualifications do you have that make you feel that you will be successful in your field?
14. What extracurricular offices have you held?
15. What are your ideas on salary?
16. How do you feel about your family?
17. How interested are you in sports?
18. If you were starting school all over again, what would you do differently?
19. Can you forget your education and start from scratch?
20. Do you prefer any specific geographic location? Why?
21. Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend? Is it serious?
22. How much money do you hope to earn at age ____?
23. Why did you decide to go to the school you attended?
24. How did you rank in your graduating class in high school? Other schools?
25. Do you think that your extracurricular activities were worth the time you devoted to them? Why?
26. What do you think determines a person's progress in a good company?
27. What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your chosen field?
28. Why do you think you would like this particular type of job?
29. What is your father's occupation?
30. Tell me about your home life during the time you were growing up.
31. Are you looking for a permanent or temporary job?
32. Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?
33. What types of people are your best friends?
34. What kind of boss do you prefer?
35. Are you primarily interested in making money?
36. Can you take instructions without feeling upset?
37. Tell me a story.
38. Do you live with your parents? Which of your parents has had the most profound influence on you?
39. How did previous employers treat you?
40. What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
41. Can you get recommendations from previous employers?
42. What interests you about our product or service?
43. What was your record in military service?
44. Have you ever changed your major field of interest? Why?
45. When did you choose a major?
46. How did your grades after military service compare with those you previously earned?
47. Do you feel you have done the best work of which you are capable?
48. How did you happen to go to postsecondary school?
49. What do you know about opportunities in the field in which you are trained?
50. How long do you expect to work?
51. Have you ever had any difficulty getting along with fellow students and faculty? Fellow workers?
52. Which of your school years was most difficult?
53. What is the source of your spending money?
54. Do you own any life insurance?
55. Have you saved any money?
56. Do you have any debts?
57. How old were you when you became self-supporting?
58. Do you attend church?
59. Did you enjoy school?
60. Do you like routine work?
61. Do you like regular work?
62. What size city do you prefer?
63. When did you first contribute to family income?
64. What is your major weakness?
65. Define cooperation.
66. Will you fight to get ahead?
67. Do you demand attention?
68. Do you have an analytical mind?
69. Are you eager to please?
70. What do you do to keep in good physical condition?
71. How do you usually spend Sunday?
72. Have you had any serious illness or injury?
73. Are you willing to go where the company sends you?
74. What job in our company would you choose if you were entirely free to do so?
75. Is it an effort for you to be tolerant of persons with a background and interests different from your own?
76. What types of books have you read?
77. Have you plans for further education?
78. What types of people seem to rub you the wrong way?
79. Do you enjoy sports as a participant? As an observer?
80. Have you ever tutored another student?
81. What jobs have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?
82. What are your own special abilities?
83. What job in our company do you want to work toward?
84. Would you prefer a large or a small company? Why?
85. What is your idea of how industry operates today?
86. Do you like to travel?
87. How about overtime work?
88. What kind of work interests you?
89. What are the disadvantages of your chosen field?
90. Do you think that grades should be considered by employers? Why or why not?
91. Are you interested in research?
92. If married, how often do you entertain at home?
93. To what extent do you use liquor?
94. What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?