How do you handle personal interview questions?

Going for a job interview is like preparing yourself for the biggest test you will ever face.

One wrong answer and this could mean the difference between a hire and the familiar yet doom filled line of, “If you don’t hear from us in two weeks consider yourself unsuccessful!”

I am sure you will all agree that job interviews are the pits. However, there is no reason why you can’t master a job interview. Job interviews just take practice and once you have gone for enough job interviews you soon realise the best ways to answer questions to impress your future boss. But what about interview questions that are too personal?

Personal Interview Questions

Some of you Job Seekers might be wondering which personal questions a potential employer is not allowed to ask and what are the best ways to tackle personal interview questions?

We investigated this issue from a Human Resource and Legal perspective as this is information Job Seekers need before they go for job interviews and this is also the types of details employers need before they conduct interviews with potential job seekers.

The bottom-line is an employer may include personal questions in an interview if they adheres to the following criteria

  1. If the issue directly relates to a person’s ability to perform productively in any position
  2. If you ask the same question to all candidates applying for the position

Employers may ask the following personal questions:

  • Are you aware of any health issues you may be suffering from at present that may influence your ability to perform according to our expectations in this position?”

As it is common cause that ill health will have a negative effect on productivity. Employers cannot discriminate by asking about AIDS, HIV, depression, diabetes or back problems, etc… What if an employer later find that an employee is suffering from very low blood pressure and he failed to declare it? The employer can prove that the employee was reasonably expected to understand the impact of it on his/ her performance and he can prove that it does affect the employee’s productivity negatively. This may lead to termination due to non-disclosure.  So what questions are a big No-No:

  • “Are your parents separated?”
  • “What are your social habits?”
  • “What is your religion?”
  • “What is your sexual preference?”

All these questions are not acceptable as it has no proven influence on the employee’s ability to do their job. Again – depending on what the job is. If you were molested as a child for example, and you are applying for a position as a prison Counsellor  – your experience MAY affect your ability to council child molesters objectively – but in any other job this information is personal and not related to job functionality.

Some interviewers will point out something relating to a personals social presence. Bear in mind most recruiters and employers are perusing the social media plains, to measure suitability. For example an employer might ask a potential employee: “I see on your Facebook page that you like to drink a lot, would you say you can be classified as having a substance abuse problem? If so, what are you doing to quit the habit?” Most potential employees will answer “No” to this question, due to its personal nature.  Although, if the employee said “No” and it comes to light later that he /she is an alcoholic or uses other forms of drugs during work the employer can dismiss them because they lied in their interview.

We hope that you found this post helpful in your quest to find your dream job. You might also find the following posts interesting:

  1. Interview Questions for Job Seekers
  2. Questions You Can Expect from the Interviewee
  3. General Interview Questions Employers / Recruiters
  4. 10 Things to Avoid During Your Interview
  5. 5 Tips for Interview Success

Please leave your comments below as we really do encourage your feedback on this or on any of our other posts on the Job Mail Blog.



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7 Responses

  1. Gabriel N. Lunkamba says:

    I am a 39 years old Congolese Medical Doctor (GP) working in Zambia for seven years now, I have enough skills in general practice especially in Obs & gynae where I can do all operations possible including total abdominal hysterectomy. I am ready to join your institution as soon as I am wanted.
    Dr Gabriel N. Lunkamba
    C/o chikankata mission hospital
    PB S 2 Mazabuka Zambia
    Phone: +260977572293

  2. Edward says:

    This’s cool as most prospective employers usually think they can run the show as if a prospective employee doesn’t know anything about everything. We looking forward to interviewees who can just steal the show and grab the opportunities at first

  3. section says:

    This is very helpful.. Especially with the (Interview Questions for Job Seekers

    Questions You Can Expect from the Interviewee

    General Interview Questions Employers / Recruiters

    10 Things to Avoid During Your Interview

    5 Tips for Interview Success) awesome one guys!

  4. Nqobile Mlandeli says:

    thanks for all the great guidance. Interviews are almost always perplexing to handle as you always meet recruiters/interviewers with different personalities and different levels of professionalism. The “5 Tips for interview Success”seems very helpful. I previously read your other post on “10 Effective ways of finding a job”and the material is absolutely helpful to the job seeker.
    Again, thanks for all the pain that you take to keep us updated and to be better prepared in our journey to find jobs.

  5. Gabriel N. Lunkamba says:

    General practitioner with surgica skills for 8 years especially obs & gynae where I do all operations including hysterectomy

  6. Guinevere says:

    I went for an interview with a well known national recruitment agency recently. After 3 hours of agony inducing tests, the interviewer asked me what type of brand of car I drove, why I sold my video shop and how long I had been married for? Well I wear a R38 000 Tag watch and a platinum wedding ring worth a bomb and feel I am well groomed, hair, nails, power suit the works… etc. I should of answered a 1967 volksie beetle, sold my shop because it went bang and married for a week! Non of her business, I say. Felt like emailing the CEO.

  7. Vincee says:

    I thank you guys for tips, sometimes you find it difficult to just keep quit while employer is asking some sill questions, like are you the one that driver Golf V, do you have house, yoh that car you driving is too expensive I wonder we will be able to employ people like you, that is a discouragement. Yes we are despate for jobs some recruiters phone say are you looking for driving job, yes ok come before 4 o’clock we need drivers but people who are working there are on strike, 1st risking of life 2nd you won’t be permanent on that job if the strikers go back to work what is gonna happen to you? Eish ya neh what we can do we hunting for the jobs

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