Five personal details you should never mention in a job interview

During an interview, there are a few key things you should not bring up as they may have an impact on the results.

You are going to your dream interview: do you tell the perspective employer everything about you or are there some things you should just keep to yourself? It can be tempting to share details about your personal life during your interview because it seems like a good way to connect with an interviewer. While that’s not entirely a bad idea, there are some personal details you should never mention in your job search. Here are the top five:

  • Your political beliefs. Do not volunteer information that has nothing to do with the job at hand, or your ability to do it well – especially politics. You are of course entitled to your own opinion, but most of the time this information is completely irrelevant to the job unless you are interviewing for a position in the political world.
  • Your protected status. You should avoid talking about information that directly or indirectly conveys your membership in a category that is protected by federal or state anti-discrimination statutes. While some characteristics might be obvious in an interview (gender, for example), others such as religion and marital status are not. You want to stand out because of your professional qualifications, so focus on those things instead.
  • Your problems in previous jobs. Do not talk about bad times in your employment history because it can influence the interviewer against you. If you are asked why you left or are leaving your current employment, convey your reason in a positive way. This can be tough, depending on your circumstances so you may want to spend time thinking about your response to this question ahead of time
  • Your perceived superiority. Obviously, you want to be confident and show off your qualifications. But don’t do it by tearing others down.
  • Anything that makes you look unreliable. It may not be fair, but some personal details can make an interviewer think you’re unreliable. Avoid mentioning things that may be construed as causing work-life balance issues, for example a sick grandparent, personal divorce or coaching a little league team. Other details not to mention include unstable living conditions or not having a reliable car.

If you feel like these are important things to be sharing, remember no one expects you to be perfect and no one expects your life story to come out as part of the interview process. Resumes, cover letters and interviews are all part of putting your best foot forward and making a positive impression that will land you a new job. Don’t let the urge to overshare stand in the way of reaching that goal.

If you are preparing for an interview, there are many online resources that can help. Michigan State University Extension has information on workforce preparation topics that can be found on the Career Preparation website.

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