How to avoid tricky questions in an interview in English

Imagine the scene. You’re in a job interview  and they start asking you personal questions, but VERY personal. What do you do? Do you answer the questions and swallow your pride? Or are you outraged, you let go of four truths to the person in front of you and you lose the opportunity of your life? The stakes are high.
It is not the most common in the world, but it happens more than you imagine. That is why in this article we are going to see some strategies to answer inappropriate questions that may arise in a job interview in English  without harming your chances of getting the position.

1. A personal bit

In general, English speakers have a hard time being direct. When we have to communicate a controversial message, we prefer to soften it rather than hurt the feelings of our interlocutor. So we abuse the structure a bit + adjective , which translates as a bit + adjective . It is an ideal expression if you are asked too intimate a question in an interview. You say That’s a bit personal and that’s it. Let’s see it in context.

– Are you Catholic?
– Well, that’s a bit of a personal question. The truth is that I don’t think it is very related to work.
– Are you Catholic?
– Well, that question is a bit personal . Actually, I don’t think that question is related to the job.

2. A little bit too personal

To soften too much in very negative contexts we say a little bit too + adjective. It’s a little bit too polite , don’t you think? But it is a reality. Let’s look at it in the context of another disgustingly inappropriate question.

“Do you intend to become pregnant soon?”
“Honestly, that question is a little personal.” I don’t think that has anything to do with my job performance.
– Are you planning to start a family any time soon?
– Honestly, I think that question is a little bit too persona l. I don’t really see what it has to do with my performance at work.

3. To have nothing to do with

Have to do with is like we say to have to see in English, although it is more common to use the negative form to have nothing to do with . It is a very useful expression in these cases; let’s put it in context:

– Are you affiliated with any political party?
–Sincerely, I don’t think these very personal issues have anything to do with my job performance.
– Are you a member of a political party?
–I honestly don’t think these kinds of personal questions have nothing to do with my performance at work.


Whatever the cause, personal questions have no place today in any selection processThey are blatantly discriminatory. According to article 4.2.c) of the Workers Statute, a person in Spain cannot be directly or indirectly discriminated against for employment or once employed within the Spanish State for reasons of: sex, marital status, age (within the limits marked by this law), racial or ethnic origin, social status, religion or convictions, political ideas, sexual orientation, affiliation or not to a union or language. And beware, because it is not just direct questions. If the person interviewing you mentions your wedding ring, a religious symbol that you wear as a pendant, or how beautiful your foreign accent is, they may be doing it in order for you to open up and be honest with them. It is also considered as an inappropriate tactic. And you have every right to report it.

And finally…

Want to know another great way to muddle through any difficult interview question? Join our  Professional English Master ! A high performance program that allows you to learn English without leaving Spain with which you will reach an adequate level of English to function in a professional environment.


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