Dear Matt: I’m seeking a leadership position and I wanted to highlight some personal successes I view as important for the role I’m seeking. We’ve lived in the same house for 15 years and it’s paid off. I prepay our child’s private education every year, we have zero debt and my wife is a proud stay-at-home mom. Should I bring this up?
Matt says: There are numerous reasons to avoid revealing personal information like this. If you’ve made it to the interview, the employer already believes your skills, abilities and experience could be a match. Now they are trying to get to know you — but from a work, not a personal, standpoint.
There are two things an employer cares about, says Barb Krantz Taylor, co-principal, executive coach with the Bailey Group (thebaileygroup.com), a Minneapolis-based executive coaching firm: Can you do the job you are interviewing for? Will you fit into the organization’s culture and be a good addition to the team?
There are many ways to talk about your strengths, but your examples of fiscal responsibility should focus on your work performance, says executive coach Lissa Weimelt (searchproservices.com). What specific actions did you take to save your company money? What initiatives had your name on them that increased revenue or turned the ink from red to black?
Even if you get hired, keep your personal information private. While the employer would never admit it, knowing you are OK financially could be a factor if job cuts are made. You may be thought more likely to overcome the financial burden of a layoff compared to another colleague.
Many job seekers get uncomfortable in an interview, so talking about their personal life or personal views can steer the interview toward topics they are comfortable with, but in reality steer them right out of contention for the job. And while the interviewer can’t discriminate or ask certain personal questions (based on religion, marital status, age, sexual orientation), job seekers revealing personal information can throw up red flags that eliminate them from consideration.
Interview coach Carole Martin (interviewcoach.com) says while this reader views his personal situation as a positive, the interviewer may see it otherwise — especially if they are seeking someone adept at overturning a struggling division, for example. “When it comes to being responsible and living in one home and paying off the mortgage — good for you,” says Martin. “At the same time it sounds like you haven’t done a lot of adapting or changing in your life. Are you adaptable or set in your ways? Do you know how to deal with adverse situations? Or, has your life been one easy ride? These are all things to consider when painting a picture of yourself for someone.”
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