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Personal Details You Shouldn’t Share In a Job Interview

Even if you have the perfect answer for every question, you may not have considered what personal details you shouldn't share in your job interview.

By Patty RamsenPublished 7 years ago 7 min read

To prepare for a job interview, most people review what they should say and the most common questions that might be asked. Even if you have the perfect answer for every question, you may not have considered what not to say in your job interview, and this is just as crucial. Sometimes, our willingness to be honest (or frankly, to overshare) can be a bad thing. If you’re trying to land a new job, make sure to review these personal details you shouldn’t share in a job interview as part of your preparation, and you’ll be much more likely to turn that interview into a job offer.

Job interviews make many people nervous, no matter how qualified they are for the job. It can be hard to predict what to say, how to act, or know what the interviewer is looking for. Being underprepared can allow you to freeze or blurt the wrong thing in the heat of the moment, and it can be helpful to think of the points you’d like to make, and what you want to present to your potential employer before the big day arrives. On the other hand, you may also want to think of a few topics and personal details that you shouldn’t share in a job interview. Having these in mind can keep you from nervously blurting or over-explaining a topic you’d rather keep to yourself.

Every job interview is different, and you can never predict exactly what your employer is looking for, hoping to hear, or thinking when you respond. You’ll never be able to plot out the whole interview, but having some prepared ideas of what you’d like to say, and what you’d prefer to keep to yourself can go a long way to minimizing your nerves, ensuring you make a great impression, and helping your real personality to shine through. Have a look through this list of personal details you shouldn’t share in a job interview, and think through how you might address these topics when they come up.

An Unstable Personal Life or Relationships

We all go through personal problems in our lives, and sometimes through no fault of our own. If you’ve just gone through a breakup, or are getting a restraining order against your roommate, you might not want to mention it in your interview. Employers are looking for people that can help them achieve more, and launching into these negative personal stories can give an impression of an unstable life, or make them think that your personal issues might impact your ability to work. Sharing some personal detail can be a great thing and help you get to know one another in the interview. Just make sure to keep things light and appropriate

Financial Problems or Financial Desperation

Everyone who is attending a job interview is doing it because they need the money, either now or for the future. You know it and the interviewer knows it. But in job interviews, it is best for the candidate to appear as if they don’t need the job, and have many options to consider. If you’re experiencing significant financial distress, some interviewers might worry about how you will handle work finances. While this may not be fair, be sure to not complain, or reveal just how much you might need the job in the interview. It will make you a more attractive candidate, and help you keep your personal and professional life separate in the long run.

Any Legal Problems You Have or Have Had In the Past

For some job roles, a legal search and background check is necessary for employment, and employers may have the right to ask if you’ve been convicted of a felony. However, in many roles, this will not be investigated or asked about. If you’re facing any kind of legal issues and are lucky enough to be able to avoid this question, do not reveal the information on your own. This goes beyond any criminal activities you might have been involved in, and also applies to the private courts. For example, if you’ve been compelled to sue your former employer (with good reason or not), a job interview might not be the best time to bring that up.

If You Suffer From an Illness or Injury

If you have (or have had in the past) an illness or injury that has impacted your ability to work, you do not have to disclose this in your job interview. We are all entitled to the support we need to complete our jobs, and any details that need to be disclosed can be discussed after you’re in your new job.

In some cases, you may find it easier to disclose an injury. For example, if you had to take time off of work after a car accident for an injury that has now healed, you may feel it is best to bring that up to explain a gap in your resume. If, on the other hand, you suffer from an illness that might reemerge, you may want to keep it to yourself. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you for any disability or illness, but you also don’t want to give them the opportunity to do so if you can avoid it.

Your Plans For a Family

If you are planning to have a family within the next couple of years, you may not want to mention it to an employer. No one is allowed to refuse you a job because you or your spouse is pregnant or ready to adopt, but not every employer is aware of the law, or partial to following it. Even if parenthood is right around the corner, it is not something to discuss in an interview, and is not a question you are obligated to answer.

The Gritty Details of How You Left Your Last Job

We have all had bad jobs, and most of us have quit a job with good reason. That said, your job interview is about making a first impression. Your potential employer has no way of knowing whether your job or your boss was the problem, or you were. If you were fired from your last job, you may want to give some information as to why. If you did not get along with your old boss and must mention it in the interview, make sure to explain that it was a learning opportunity, and that you are now great at managing difficult or immature people at work.

Your Political or Religious Views

Sharing your religious beliefs or political views in a job interview is not a good idea. First, because it can simply lead to personal awkwardness and mar the flow of your conversation. Second, political and religious tensions are high right now, and they have always been a source of conflict among people. Consciously or not, your employer may view these beliefs as reasons you may be a “good fit” for the team, and the less discussed the better.

Keep It Positive When You Talk About the Company

Most interviewers will ask you what you know about their company, what you think of their website, or what you’ve seen on social media. Many might ask you what you might improve about any of these things. This is a great question, and helps to reveal your passion about the work, how much you know about it, and what you instinct for these things is. It is great to have an answer prepared for this, but be sure your answer doesn’t come off as too negative a response, and don’t insult any of the company’s work. Instead, talk about things you would be excited to see, the things you’ve noticed that you’d like to see more of, and the upcoming projects you’re most excited to be a part of. Being too critical in this instance can sometimes go the wrong way. First, you may be directly criticizing work that your new boss has worked on or lead, and second because it is always best to be a contributor, rather than a retractor. Make an impression on your potential employer as a team player, working toward the positive, and you’ll be viewed as a potentially valuable part of the team.

Preparing for a job interview can make anyone nervous, but preparation in every way can help you ensure you make the best possible impression. Make sure to prepare your answers, best points, and highlights of your career to share with your employer. But, don’t forget to keep in mind these personal details you shouldn’t share in a job interview. Reviewing all of these things will ensure you can present your best self, and land a new job in no time.


About the Creator

Patty Ramsen

Just another 20 something trying to break the glass ceiling one blazer at a time. Get your own coffee...

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