Regardless of which field the job you are interviewing for is in, your interview will most likely include personal background questions. The best way to perform well in an interview is to prepare well. Today we’re going to tackle the top 3 personal background interview questions to prepare for that you are almost guaranteed to be asked. I’ll lay out the question and the different ways it may be formed, the strategy you should take to answer it, and some examples of good answers from interview experts and examples of bad answers for your reference.
Top 3 Personal Background Interview Questions Preparation
Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Strategy: Start with who you are in your profession currently. Elaborate on where you have developed your skills and for how long. End with why you are interested in this job. An easy way to remember this is the “Present-Past-Future formula.”
Good Example: “Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”
Bad Example: Well, I grew up in Wisconsin. I went to college in Texas and now I’m a teacher of 4th grade math.
Question: What are your greatest strengths?
Strategy: Make a list of your strengths. List out strengths you think you have and strengths that others have noticed in you. Select the strengths that best match the needs of the position you are interviewing for. Look for keywords in the job description and company mission statement. Don’t just tell them your strength, demonstrate it through a story of a relevant accomplishment.
Good Example: “I like to solve thorny customer problems. At Angry Chocolates I took over the account of a guy that nobody else wanted to deal with, because he was so difficult. I spent a lot of time on the phone with that customer and built a great relationship with him. He ended up doubling his order volume with Angry once he felt heard and acknowledged.”
Bad Example: I’m a hard worker and I have really strong work ethic.
Question (Several Possibilities): What is/are you greatest weakness(es)? If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? Do you have any developmental goals right now? What would your previous supervisor say are your areas of improvement?
Strategy: Choose weaknesses that are honest, but do not go against requirements for the role (like being bad at math for an accountant position). Be concise. Share what steps you are taking to improve that weakness. Have a few weaknesses prepared in case they ask for more than one.
Good Example: “There are times when I’m too blunt and honest and might seem aloof. I tend to say the first thing that comes to my mind without thinking about what I’m saying first. When I’m dealing with other people this can come across as cold and even a little mean which isn’t my intention at all. Once I realized I was doing this it was a matter of slowing down and thinking before I say something to someone…especially when I’m giving people feedback. I’m actively working on making sure that my criticisms are constructive and that I’m leaving people with solutions and options rather than just shutting them down”
“Honestly, I would say that public speaking is an area that I could work on. I tend to get nervous when asked to present to a large group of people. In small team meetings, I’m the first one to stand up and present. But put me in front of a big group and I can get flustered.
I actually spoke to my manager about this and we set it as one of my development goals for this year. I took an internal presentation skills class and attended some meetings of Toastmasters, a networking group for people who want to practice public speaking. With some practice, I started to feel more comfortable. Last month, I even volunteered to represent our team at a division-wide town hall. I only had to present for 10 minutes, but I did it and got great feedback! It was actually kind of fun, so I plan on continuing to seek out opportunities to improve in this area.”
Bad Example: Surprisingly, I really don’t have any weaknesses.
If I had to name a weakness, I would say that I work too hard. I’m a perfectionist.
I hope this post was helpful. Let me know if you’d like me to cover more interview questions like this or different career building topics in general.