In an interview that was published on Audi's company blog, James Garrett, Manager of Talent  Acquisition, discussed the organization's interviewing process and what candidates could expect. While the remarks may have been meant for Audi hiring managers, the advice is also useful for job candidates across all industries.

Outside of clarifying what's on your resume and providing examples of your qualifications, Garrett stressed the importance of communicating and helping Audi interviewers understand who you are as an individual. 

A few of Audi's go to personal questions are actually quite ordinary:

  • What do you do in your free time?
  • What are your hobbies? 
  • Are you involved in any social club? 

Although these questions seem like fastballs right over center-plate, hitting them out of the park will take a little more finesse than you think. Here are three ways to answer personal interview questions without shooting yourself in the foot. 

1. Share the right amount of information. 

When the subject turns to ourselves, specifically our hobbies and passions, it's easy to unintentionally use up all the oxygen in the room and talk yourself out of consideration by revealing too much information. To ensure you find the right balance between staying professional and being relatable, stick to just one or two examples. Touch on the high points and then back off. If your interviewers want to know more, they'll ask.   

Also, focus on the instances that help interviewers get a sense of who you are as an individual as well as what you would be like to work with every day. 

2. Filter your examples.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. However, interviews are not the right place to disclose your political affiliations. Instead, stick to uncontroversial examples and hobbies that highlight your values and motivations. This could include the current book your reading, volunteering experience, favorite exercise classes, or teaching opportunities. 

If you were able to get a read on the organization's culture through your interview preparation, make sure to include any examples that highlight your commonalities. At the end of the day, interviewers are just trying to determine what else you can bring to the organization outside of your technical skill sets and abilities. 

3. Always be honest. 

It's tempting to want to over embellish or inflate our experiences in a desperate attempt to be engaging or stand out from other candidates. (Like pretending you're a huge sports fan or world traveler.) Although it may work in the short term, eventually padding your experiences will come back to haunt you. 

Make sure to remain genuine at all times throughout the process. An employer expects you to be on your best behavior during the interview. So if there is even a shred of confusion, doubt, or concern about your character, they anticipate it only magnifying once you start.

When the conversation turns personal, it's easy to let down your guard. Remember, everything you say or do in the interviewing process is being evaluated. Be yourself but don’t lose sight of the fact that you are in an interview. Use the forum to relay who you are as a person, and do so in a manner that reinforces the positive, professional message you are trying to convey.

Published on: Oct 30, 2017