Should You Talk About Your Personal Life During an Interview?

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When in an interview, you may have come across the ‘so tell us more about yourself’ question once or twice before. What does one say during this time? Do you explain your personal attributes; tell the interviewer about your recent nuptials or perhaps chat about how you are an avid mountain biker? Just how much of your personal life should you be talking about during an interview? What information is your potential employer seeking when they ask you this question? We get into a bit more detail on this topic below:

Your employer wants to get an idea of the type of person that you are. Touch briefly on your hobbies, interests and pastimes, without getting into too much detail. Telling the interviewer that you are a keen rock climber, and enjoy visiting new rock climbing sites once a month is fine. 

You are showing him / her that you are passionate about something and have a healthy, active interest. On the other hand, telling your interviewer that you enjoy the nightlife and spend every Friday evening trying out new clubs and nursing hangovers every Saturday may lead them to believe that you are careless, slightly unstable and perhaps even a bit immature.

Conclusion: Touch briefly on hobbies, interests and pastimes.Your interviewer may ask you if you are married and whether or not you have any children. You do not need to launch into the romantic story of how you met your partner. Remember, you are using your potential employer’s precious time. You may state that you are married or have a partner, and you can mention your children and their ages. At this point, even if not prompted, you may explain your children’s schooling circumstances and the hours that you would need to work in order to be able to fetch them and take them to school. This indicates to your potential employer that you are capable of being a wife / husband and a parent, and still manage your work responsibilities.

Conclusion: (As an example) You do not need to launch into a tirade about your ex-husband, making it clear why you are now a single mom. You simply need to explain that you are a single mom and give any details necessary regarding working hours that will best suit your motherly duties and those of your job. To add onto these two points, here are some more things regarding your personal life to consider when in an interview: Be careful not to talk about aspects of your personal life that bear no relation to your job. For example, unless you are interviewing to be a seamstress, your interviewer does not need to hear about your obsession with knitting and the large sewing room in your home.

Do not let the emotional aspect of your personal life seep into your interview, ever. You do not need to speak about loss, love, life or grief-related experiences. Don’t speak about break-ups, substance abuse, rivalries, family tiffs or anything emotional / very personal.

To conclude, take note of the following things relating to your personal life that are acceptable to discuss during interviews:
Your background – where you grew up, where you have lived and where you have travelled to. Note: Saying ‘I used to live in East London’ is fine, but ‘I used to live in East London but my boyfriend cheated on me so I moved up here’ is not.

Special medical or dietary requirements. For example, ‘I’m a vegetarian,’ not ‘I’m a vegetarian because my brother once put raw meat under my pillow,’ or ‘I have asthma so I carry a pump on me at all times,’ not ‘I have asthma and it has ruined my past relationship because he got annoyed that I couldn’t play adventure sports with him.’

Remember that you want to come across as a strong, mature and level-headed person, with just the right amount of personality to make you stand out from the others. Stay focused in your interview and show them that you are professional and will not let your personal-life issues consume you and your job if you are hired.

First Impressions: Why Your Interview Outfit Matters
We all know that age-old cliché – ‘first impressions are everything’. The reason why it has been repeated countless times over the years is because it is true, especially when it comes to landing your dream job! What you choose to wear says a lot about who you are and what you might have to offer the company at which you wish to work. Your outfit sets the tone for the impending interview and, if you have chosen wisely, could inspire respect and trust in your skills and abilities before the questions even begin. Below are some tips to keep in mind.

What You Should be Wearing:
A classic tailored suit is always a winner. Just remember to ensure that it fits you well and that it has been properly dry cleaned beforehand.
  • A well-ironed shirt.
  • A simple tie.
  • Polished dress shoes and matching socks.
Women should ensure that their nails are well-groomed.
  • Neat hair – preferably tied up and out of the face.
  • Professional flat shoes or a mid-high heel.
  • Clothes that fit well, but aren’t too tight.
For both men and women, the colour of the outfit which you choose to wear is also important to consider, as it subconsciously affects people’s perceptions of you. The best colours include:
  • Blue: Blue inspires trust.
  • Red: Red enhances one’s confidence.
  • Black: Black can make someone look more powerful and also demonstrates leadership.
  • Grey: Grey makes someone seem logical and professional.
  • White: White is often thought to express good organisational skills.
  • Orange / Yellow: These colours are ideal for those who are interviewing for a creative position. They show plenty of personality.
What Not to Wear:
  • Casual clothes. It is always better to go to your interview over-dressed as opposed to under-dressed. Clothing that is too casual will automatically cause the interviewer to doubt your professionalism and / or respect for the company or position on offer.
  • Dirty, scuffed shoes. Your shoes are usually the first things that people notice about you, so they are often responsible for moulding the first impression which you make on others.
  • Avoid loud, flashy ties and stick to plain designs and muted colours.
  • Anything that bares too much cleavage. A high neckline is always your best bet.
  • Anything too distracting. Bright colours or crazy patterns could cause your interviewer to lose focus. Simpler is always better!
  • A skirt that is too short or too tight. You don’t want to be hired because of your shapely legs, right? You want to be hired because the interviewer believes that you will bring something special to the company.
  • Heels that you cannot walk in.
Ultimately, in order to land your dream job, you need to ensure that you dress the part. First impressions really are everything – so be sure that you make one that counts!

Tips for keeping calm in your interview
An interview is undoubtedly one of the more stressful experiences we go through. There’s usually a lot riding on that one session and we want to show off our best facets, meet the criteria and come across as likeable. That’s enough pressure to make even the most accomplished applicant sweat! These techniques for keeping calm will help you relax and shine:

Breathing techniques
Breathe in through the nose slowly and steadily for as long as you can draw it out for. Expand your ribs and stomach and fill your lungs. At capacity, hold your breath for a beat and then begin a slow, steady, drawn out exhale through your mouth. When you’ve emptied your lungs completely, hold for a beat once again. Repeat and you will feel much more relaxed.

Be prepared
The best antidote to anxiety is to be prepared. If you know you can answer any question, if you’ve done your research, you will be less likely to panic.

Be early
Giving yourself enough time to find the place, use the loo, freshen up and take a breathe means you can go in fresh and calm.

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