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20 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated April 26th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 20
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
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How to Answer
This question is something that you should have an answer ready for at all times. Perhaps you look up to a parent who was a hard worker, or a teacher who encouraged you to become who you are today. Whomever this inspiring person may be, remember that the interviewer is looking for a heartfelt response.

Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewer about who has inspired your life and why.
20 Personal Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
  1. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
  2. Tell me about the proudest day of your life.
  3. Are you a reliable friend?
  4. What is your least favorite personal trait, and what are you doing to improve yourself in that area?
  5. What is your ideal work environment?
  6. What are you reading right now?
  7. How competitive are you?
  8. How do you balance life and work?
  9. What types of activities keep you busy, outside of work?
  10. What is your personal mission statement?
  11. What unique qualities about yourself would you bring to our company?
  12. Tell me one thing about yourself that you would like to improve upon.
  13. If you could alter your career path, in any way, what would you change?
  14. Do you participate in many social activities with your fellow workers?
  15. If you had $50,000 to build your own business, what would you do?
  16. What is something you would be happy doing everyday for the rest of your career?
  17. Who is the smartest person you know? Explain your answer.
  18. What is your definition of hard work?
  19. If you could teach me about any topic, unrelated to your career, what would you choose?
  20. What excites you?
15 Personal Answer Examples
1.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
This question is something that you should have an answer ready for at all times. Perhaps you look up to a parent who was a hard worker, or a teacher who encouraged you to become who you are today. Whomever this inspiring person may be, remember that the interviewer is looking for a heartfelt response.

Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewer about who has inspired your life and why.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked and she loved everyone. She was well respected and always gave more than she received. I try to live like she did, as much as I can."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My inspiration comes from my grandmother. She has spent every day of her life working hard, and I have never once heard her complain about being tired and overworked. She taught me the value of a good reputation, and I still seek out her opinion when I need inspiration."
Anonymous Answer
"The person who has inspired me in my life is my grandma. She passed away due to cancer, and during her time of going through chemo, she encouraged me to connect with people as well as being compassionate because we can build each other's self-esteem as well as reinforce the sense of identity."
Rachelle's Answer
This is a beautiful response, and it seems your grandma was a very wise woman. Well said.
Was this answer helpful? Yes (3) or No (0)
2.
Tell me about the proudest day of your life.
The interviewer would like to know you on a more personal level. There is no right or wrong answer but if you are able, keep your answer career or school related. Be sure to express any challenges that you overcame to reach this proud day, and discuss what it took to get you there. You can then let the interviewer know that you will have the same excitement and tenacity towards your goals while working for their organization.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The proudest day of my life was when I gained promotion to the senior accountant role after just 12 months with my current company. I worked hard to get there putting in overtime hours, taking additional coursework, and managing a team of two interns. I take my career path seriously and will apply myself every step of the way."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The proudest day of my life was when I graduated from university, with honors. I am the first person in my immediate family to complete post-secondary education. My whole family came to cheer me on! This accomplishment came from tough work, and endless studying - but, I did it!"
3.
Are you a reliable friend?
This question should have a simple answer. Of course, you are a reliable friend! What the interviewer is looking for, is an example of a time when you were a stand-up friend to someone else. Being a great friend will show the interviewer that you are an unselfish person, and willing to go out of your way to help someone out.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am a very reliable friend! I have an excellent memory, and my friends often comment on how well I remember birthdays and other important dates. You can always count on me to remember significant dates and facts."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My friends are like family to me, and they consider me reliable, and they are reliable to me in return. I have a close-knit group of about eight girlfriends. We get together to do something fun about once a month. I enjoy this catch-up time, and we have some great laughs as well. I am very thankful for my wonderful friends."
Anonymous Answer
"Yes, I am a reliable friend because whenever my friend needs me, I would be there. Even if I cannot meet up with them, I will call them to try to talk to them on asking what happened and how they are feeling. I want my friend to feel reassured that there are people who care and love them."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you are an excellent friend to have! Your response is very kind and caring.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
4.
What is your least favorite personal trait, and what are you doing to improve yourself in that area?
If you had to pick one trait about yourself that you are not overly proud of, what would it be? The interviewer would like to get a great idea of the 'real' you. Talk a bit about something that you are working on within yourself, but avoid mentioning a trait that would disqualify you for the position.

Some of the most common personality traits that people dislike include:

- Being a 'know-it-all.'
- Conceitedness
- Rudeness or arrogance
- Dominating conversations
- Dishonesty
- Moodiness or being temperamental
- Irresponsible
- Co-dependent

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I try to be a good person, but sometimes I can be unintentionally sharp with my comments. My friends say it's my Polish upbringing but either way, I would never want someone to feel uncomfortable around me. I am very conscious of my words now."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"There are many wonderful traits that I will bring to your organization but, like everyone, I have a couple of traits that I would like to improve on. It was brought to my attention recently that I am too brief when giving instructions. I was training a temp and missed some steps because I assumed she already knew what to do. I am consciously trying to be more thorough in situations like that."
5.
What is your ideal work environment?
When applying for a job, the fit has to match both ways. The interviewer knows this and wants to ensure that the work environment they offer is suitable for you.

There are a few factors to take into consideration when looking at the work environment:

- Are questions encouraged without judgment?
- Is continuing education encouraged?
- Does the company promote an entrepreneurial mindset?
- Does the office allow for flexibility such as working from home or flex in hours?
- Are there regular team huddles?
- Is it an open-air environment without cubicles or walled offices?
- Is feedback, from both sides, encouraged and acceptable?
- Are goals set as a team, or only individually?
- Are there strict dress codes, after-hours expectations, and other restrictions?
- Is the initial training through or is there a sink-or-swim mentality?
- Is there recognition for a job well done, or incentives on a regular basis?
- Is nepotism a factor, if the business is family-run?
- Are employees promoted based on performance, or tenure only?

Choose two to three of these factors that are important to you, and before accepting a job offer, ensure that the company hits these 'must-haves' for you and your ideal work environment.
Rachelle's Answer #1
"My ideal work environment is one where mistakes are an opportunity for learning, where full training is available, and there are opportunities for continued education. Would you say that Company ABC meets these factors?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am seeking a work environment where promotions happen on results and performance, and not tenure. I may easily outperform a manager who has been with the company for ten years and would like to know that my achievements will be recognized and rewarded, despite my being newer to the company. Can you share with me the factors that Company ABC takes into account when considering title promotions?"
Anonymous Answer
"My ideal work environment is where I am working with people who are supportive and positive. Where we help each other achieve our goals and celebrate victories together when we work as a team. I find that the best work environment is when we empower each other by uplifting each other and rising together."
Rachelle's Answer
This sounds like a lovely work environment! It's great that you know what you are looking for :)
Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
6.
What are you reading right now?
Do you feed your mind on a regular basis? What kind of literature do you prefer and why? Talk to the interviewer about a book that you are currently reading. If you are not currently reading a book - talk about one that has impacted you the most.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Currently I am reading 'Ego is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday. It is a book about ambition, resilience and success. I feel that every professional should read it - it comes highly recommended."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"A passion of mine is organization and productivity. For that reason, I chose to recently pick up 'Eat That Frog' by Brian Tracy. The idea is around ways to get more things done, in less time. Have you read it?"
7.
How competitive are you?
The interviewer would like to know if you have a competitive spirit. Being a competitive person is an excellent thing if you are appropriately competitive in the workplace. Assure the interviewer that you have a tremendous competitive edge when necessary but are still able to balance that competition healthily.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I think that on a scale of 1-10, I would rate myself as a 7 when it comes to being competitive. I love a great competition in the workplace when it comes to sales goals and breaking through last years' numbers. I am not competitive to the point that it would hurt my team or colleagues."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am competitive with myself and when it comes to the targets of the organization which I work. I like to set small challenges for myself, usually related to deadlines, on a daily basis."
8.
How do you balance life and work?
It is essential to keep a healthy work/life balance to prevent burnout. Talk to the interviewer about how you can maintain that appropriate balance for yourself. You do not want to answer as though work is so exhausting that you cannot keep up, but you also do not want to come across as a workaholic either. Find a healthy balance.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I find that with the right company, it's pretty simple to balance life and work. When I enjoy what I do, it doesn't feel like a chore. I am always sure that when at home, my family gets my attention first. I take time on the weekends to do things for myself and ensure that I regenerate before the work week begins."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I feel that I need to find a balance, I will sometimes take my email off of my phone for a Saturday. I like to be known as available. However, there are the odd times when I need to unplug for a bit."
9.
What types of activities keep you busy, outside of work?
The interviewer would like to know what keeps you busy outside of the workplace. Having hobbies and interests outside of work is an essential part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Talk to the interviewer about the activities that interest you outside of the workplace. Try to avoid activities that may be controversial such as hunting.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have a variety of hobbies that keep me busy outside of work hours. First, I have two children who are involved in basketball and gymnastics. I also play in a baseball beer league, I volunteer at our community church and like to read."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Outside of work I love to cook and bake. I have been taking cooking lessons at the culinary school every Saturday. I have learned some cool cooking techniques so far. Sometimes I like to bring treats into the office on Monday so I can share my new knowledge!"
10.
What is your personal mission statement?
The interviewer would like to know if you have a personal motto or mantra. Not everyone has a mission statement or personal mantra just off the cuff. In business, especially when entering leadership, this is an important question to ponder. Do you have a quote that inspires you or a saying that you grew up with that resonates with you?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My mantra is that 'people who shine from within do not need the spotlight.' I feel that it is incredibly necessary to be a humble leader and I take this mission statement very seriously. I want my team to be in the spotlight rather than being the kind of leader that takes the credit for good work."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My mission is to give my best 100% of the time. It's important to me that I have a great reputation in this industry through hard work and a positive attitude."
11.
What unique qualities about yourself would you bring to our company?
There are some things that your resume cannot do. Showing off your fabulous personality is one of them, for instance! Talk to the interviewer about some of your unique qualities and be sure to tie these qualities into how they will benefit the company, should they hire you.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have a unique ability to strike up a conversation and build rapport with nearly anyone. This skill is a great help when it comes to customer service and sales. My up-selling percentages are always very high."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am great with social media marketing and feel that my knowledge and experience would be beneficial when it comes to increasing brand awareness and overall sales."
12.
Tell me one thing about yourself that you would like to improve upon.
The interviewer would like to know in which way(s) you seek to improve yourself. This question is another way of asking 'What is your greatest weakness?' Saying 'nothing' is not an option here. Self-improvement is required by everyone, no matter what stage we are in, in life and career. Talk to the interviewer about something that you would improve about yourself and what you are planning to do to achieve that.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I would like to improve upon my computer skills. I am currently at an intermediate level with Microsoft Office Suite but would like to advance. I have enrolled in a class this Fall which should help me to reach that goal."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I would like to improve my skills when it comes to Google's online office tools. I am somewhat familiar with G-Suite but not familiar enough considering I believe these tools are where office management is going. Google offers online tutorials, so I plan to start taking these modules next week."
13.
If you could alter your career path, in any way, what would you change?
This question will help the interviewer to understand if you have a long and continued passion for your chosen career. Talk to the interviewer about an alternate career path that you might wish for but be sure to keep it related to the position for which you are interviewing.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I could change anything about my career path, I would have stayed in post-secondary studies for longer to upgrade in my field. I feel that this would have given me the advancement I seek now, many years later."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have always had a penchant for organization, paperwork, and the such. I would not change my career path; however, I would add other responsibilities to my work such as creating manuals and helping with the curriculum. More work that would incorporate my technical writing skills."
14.
Do you participate in many social activities with your fellow workers?
Often time, engaged and happy employees are the ones who will participate in social and extra-curricular activities. Talk to the interviewer about the ways you participate in social activities with your co-workers. Keep your answer professional as you do not want to come across as someone who becomes involved in workplace drama, or who parties with your co-workers all the time. Also, avoid any answers related to co-worker romantic relationships.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I try to participate in our company's extracurricular activities as often as possible. We will often do a quarterly get-together and go bowling, out for drinks, or throw together a baseball game with the kids and spouses. It's a lot of fun and always boosts morale in the office as well."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Our office is small, and we do not have many inter-office activities as most people have families to get home to after work. I would like to join an organization that has some sense of team-building, however. I would like to have a summer cookout or maybe even a Christmas party to attend! Could you tell me about the staff events you hold here?"
15.
If you had $50,000 to build your own business, what would you do?
If money was no object, what kind of business would you start? The interviewer will be able to learn something new and unique about you through this question. Avoid answers that would include building a business that competes with the hiring company.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I had $50,000 to build my own business I would open up a community center in my neighborhood that offered inexpensive childcare, cooking classes, and other life skills programs. I am passionate about volunteering and see a strong need in those particular areas."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I had money to start a business I would create an Etsy shop with professionally designed day planners and other materials to help people remain organized. I am a huge fan of organization and stationary, so those two interests combined would be fun."
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