Get personal in job interviews, but not too much

Mark Jeffries
Mark JeffriesToday

Talking about Fido, or your kids, is a good way to bond during a job interview, but don't get too personal and try not to come off as a greedy stalker.

That’s the advice from communications expert Mark Jeffries, author of “Art of Business Seduction: A 30-Day Plan to Get Noticed, Get Promoted and Get Ahead and “What’s Up With Your Handshake?” He was on hand Wednesday to take questions about job interview dos and don’ts during our live weekly web chat.

He was asked by one reader, Hannah, about what to say when an interviewer asks that common question, “Tell me about yourself.”

Hannah wanted to know if she should “stay away from personal family information and just talk about information that will help me get the job?”

While many career experts tend to suggest you keep personal matters out of any job interview, Jeffries offered a contrarian opinion:

“Apparently, if you ever are unlucky enough to get kidnapped, the advice is always talk about your family and your personal life, then it allegedly becomes harder for them to harm you. Same in an interview, feel free to tell them a little about you personally. Let them get to now you. After all they will have to work with you every day and you want them to like the thought of having you around – 80 percent business, 20 percent personal. (Also if you see a picture on their desk of a dog or cat and you have one - make sure you reference that you enjoy time with your pet - instant bond!)”

Mark JeffriesToday

When trying to bond with a hiring manager, doing a bit of digging about the person before you meet them is also is good idea, but don’t let on about all you’ve dug up, Jeffries advised.

“If you have uncovered an interest that you both have, you clearly need to reference it for that NBB ‘Non-Business Bond.’ However, you don't want to come across like a crazy stalker,” he wrote during the web chat. “So, here's what you do. Within conversation about yourself, reference how much you enjoy (insert common interest here) and wait for your interviewer to spark up and suddenly say, ‘ooo, I like that too.’ After this, you have to fake it just a tiny bit and feign surprise at such a happy coincidence. Result: ‘Wouldn't it be great if we worked together?’ Nice!”

Another reader, Titus, asked that perpetual question job seekers are often wondering and worried about: “I have always heard that it is a good idea to ask questions at the end of the interview,” he wrote. “What are some good questions to ask?”

On this, Jeffries stressed that all interviewees should always ask questions.

“It shows that you are interested in the job, the company and the opportunity,” he explained. “Just make sure your questions are never about salary increases, bonuses or vacation. You need to ask questions about plans, strategy, approach, culture, vision - you know all those things corps really love. Show with your questions, that you are going to truly fit in with the team and that the management will be able to get on with you.”

For a full transcript of the Q&A with Jeffries go here: 


You can also follow Jeffries on Twitter or check out his blog. And don’t miss next Wednesday’s live web chat about money and work with another expert who’ll be read to take on your questions.