Part of an interviewer’s job is to develop rapport with the applicant. By asking casual, regular questions to the individual, they help them become relaxed so that their answers are not motivated by fear and are (hopefully) more true to the interviewer than they would be if the applicant was timid and untrusting. Even seasoned professionals are nervous during job interviews, so the interviewer will engage them in some small conversation with the hopes that the applicant calms down enough to answer questions to the best of their ability.
In order to develop this rapport, interviewers often ask very harmless questions, such as “seen any good movies lately?” or “what do you think of today’s weather?” In a general sense, these questions are meaningless, and arguably not even real interview questions. Yet according to hiring managers, these questions are not as harmless as they seem. If your interviewer asks you your favorite vacation spot, your answer does actually have an effect on your chances.
How to Answer
No, it does not matter if you would rather visit Cambodia over Italy, Nigeria over Australia, or Ohio over Hawaii. What matters are these two things:
- Do you have an interesting reason behind your choice?
- Do you engage the interviewer in conversation or simply answer and stop?
Bad answers are those that actually harm the conversation, which we will get to in a moment. Good answers are those that either improve your interview chances (if you are extremely engaging and likeable) or those that have no affect at all (meaning all of the focus is on the more professional questions). In other words, a good answer may have no effect, but a bad answer almost certainly will.
If your interviewer asks you why, and you respond with “I don’t know, I kind of like it” you are getting off to a really bad start. Cambodia is an interesting answer. Not having an interesting reason for it makes you seem like an odd person.
“The last place I visited was Cambodia. I adored the shrines, weather, and the locals. The food there was delicious, but what was especially intriguing was the richness and uniqueness of Cambodian culture. Angkor Park near Siem Reap is easily one of the most fascinating areas in Asia, and since tourism is not as prevalent there as it is in neighboring countries like Thailand, the area itself is less touched by commercialism.”
The interviewer is probably not going to remember this answer, but that’s what makes it a good answer. You have successfully been engaging and interesting, and so the interviewer sees no red flags before the interview begins. With all of these rapport job interview questions, the content is not as important as how you present it. If you are engaging and interesting, the rest of your job interview will go much more smoothly.
Take Away Interview tips
- Be engaging and show thought behind your answer.
- Don’t avoid these questions like they are unimportant.