Interview FAQ: How to handle questions based on family background?

MBA interviews aim at assessing the overall personality of a candidate through a multitude of questions. Interviewer can ask questions related to any field – directly or indirectly – associated with the person. Many interviewers ask personal questions to analyze the upbringing and behavioral aspect of a person. Among many of the frequently asked questions in the beginning of the interview chances are the interviewer might ask about one’s family background. While it may be very comfortable for many of you to answer family related questions, there may be some who might either get embarrassed or perplexed by such questions. 
In this article we will try to formulate an approach to handling these questions by knowing more about them.
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Typical questions related to family and suggested answers
Q. Tell us about your family background.
Suggested Answer: You can start by sharing a brief overview, focusing on the positive influences and lessons learnt from your family members. For example, You can say, We are a family of four, and my parents and family have always valued education and hard work. And I have seen the dedication and passion of my parents for the family and this is my biggest motivation in life. Their dedication has always inspired me to do great things. 
Q. How many members are there in your family?
Suggested Answer: Try to answer in a straightforward manner but you can always add a personal touch to make it more effective. For eg: We are a nuclear family of five, and all of us share a great bond. There are no communication gaps and we can freely communicate about anything. I feel that my family plays a very important role in enhancing my communication skills.
Q. What are your parents’ occupations?
Suggested Answer: Talk about your parents occupation and how their working style and dedication for work has always motivated you to be like them. For eg: My father is an engineer and is currently serving as the Deputy Manager in a well-known conglomerate. I aspire to be as successful as him in my life and devote myself to the service with all the dedication.
Q. How many siblings do you have? What do they do?
Suggested Answer: Tell them about your siblings and the bond you share with them and how there is always a positive competition going on between the two of you. For eg: My elder sister works in an IT Company and I love hearing stories about their work culture. Because of her I already know a lot about the work culture and ethics of working in a corporate set-up.
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Q. Are you the eldest/ youngest? How does that impact your role in the family?
Suggested Answer: Discuss how your position in your family has impacted you in real life. For eg: I am the youngest in my family and I get to hear everyone’s experiences from their time which has helped me stay extra attentive as I get all the guidance from their experiences.
Q. What are your views towards marriage?
Suggested Answer: Keep this answer generic and add your opinion. For eg: I feel getting married is a personal choice and currently for me the focus is my education and career growth. I’d want to get married once I am financially independent because I want to spend my own money for my marriage.
Q. What is the occupation of your spouse?
Suggested Answer: If applicable you can briefly mention about your spouse's occupation and how you respect and support each other's ambitions.
Q. How many members are dependent on you?
Suggested Answer: You can specify your personal experiences here. For eg: Being the youngest in the family currently I have no one to support financially but I like supporting my family members in every other way possible and whenever the situation demands
Q. Where do you originally come from/ belong to?
Suggested Answer: Here you can talk about your culture and roots and how they have influenced you to be a better person. For eg: I belong to Himachal originally but because of my father’s occupation we have stayed away from our roots and used to visit our hometown during holidays. This has given me a broader perspective in life as my family has always influenced me on speaking in our native language at home. 
Q. How has your father/mother influenced your life’s decisions/ambitions/goals/career?
Suggested Answer: Talk about the positive support and influence of your parents in your life. For eg: My parents have always supported me in everything that I have decided to do and they are the ones who push me to my highest potential. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders.
Q. What are your family values and ethics?
Suggested Answer: Talk about what your family has given you, the core values you have inculcated from your parents and how they have always pushed you to be a better human being. For eg: Since childhood my parents have always let me learn from my mistakes and have instilled the qualities of a nice human being. I have learnt honesty, respecting elders, hard work and dedication from my parents and these qualities have always helped me grow in life. 
Q. Is your decision to pursue MBA independent of your family’s choice?
Suggested Answer: Yes, my parents are supportive of my decision to pursue MBA and they have pushed me to my limits at every obstacle. 
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How to Handle questions based on family background?
In an interview, the panelists are looking for clues to gauge the inherent traits of a person. For this, they usually ask questions related to family, parents, siblings, etc. to understand the in-and-out of a candidate. Family plays an eminent role in shaping the mental and physical development of a person. Therefore, keep the following pointers in mind while answering questions related to your family:
  • Prepare some answers to standard questions, before the interview itself, to avoid fumbling
  • Be positive and joyous while answering to show that a happy attitude
  • Don’t be shy or embarrassed of any factual information related to your family.
  • Be confident and proud of what your parents’ do to give you a comfortable living
  • Try to show good values that your parents have inculcated in you
  • Avoid showing that you are completely dependent or completely independent from your family’s value system or decisions.
  • If you are married, try to show a respectful proposition towards your better half
  • You can add a few things you have learnt from your grandparents or far-off relatives, only if relevant to the conversation
  • If you belong to a business family, be prepared to answer questions on entrepreneurial values, relevance of MBA for you, etc.
To learn more interview skills, explore the links given below:
  1. Interview FAQ: What should I wear to the Interview?
  2. How do I greet the Interviewer?
  3. What kind of Body Language should I use?
  4. What if I cannot answer the question being asked to me?
  5. Do I have to ask questions at the end of the interview?
  6. Significance of the time of the interview
  7. How should I handle myself in a "stress interview" situation?
  8. How to introduce yourself in the interview?
  9. Tricky questions related to your academic performance
  10. Deal with questions based on strengths and weaknesses
  11. Tackle questions related to your hobbies
  12. State the right career objective
  13. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  14. Tricky interview question related to MBA Admissions
  15. Which field of management would you like to specialize in?
  16. Why do you want to do management from this institute?
If you have any question, suggestion or feedback, feel free to post it in the discussion box given below.
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