A personal interview can refer to a few different things. It may refer to a job interview in which an individual meets one on one with a hiring manager or human resources personnel. More commonly, a personal interview refers to an interview with someone from admissions from the college or university to which an individual has applied; this gives the interviewer a better idea of the student and his or her personality. It may also refer to a type of research in which the researcher meets individually with participants.
The hallmark of a personal interview is that it is typically conducted one on one; at most, one other person asking interview questions or simply observing may be present, but generally it is more individualized. A job interview may be considered a type of personal interview, since the interviewer will be asking the job candidate questions about himself or herself in the interest of determining if he or she would be a good fit for the position. "Personal" does not necessarily mean personal questions, particularly in a job interview in which certain types of questions are illegal; it may simply mean questions regarding one's individual working style and experiences.
A personal interview more commonly refers to one used for college admissions. In this instance, an applicant will meet with a college admissions counselor, who will conduct an interview in an attempt to learn more about the student, his or her life experiences, interest in the school, and goals for the future. These tend to be a more personal type of interview because it is fairly common to discuss life events that were extremely influential or had a big impact on the student, or the reason he or she is choosing to pursue a certain educational path. It is important to be honest in all types of personal interviews.
Research surveys, typically for market research, are another type of personal interview that are fairly common. These may be a lengthy interview, in which a research participant meets with the researcher individually. In addition, it might be a much shorter interview if the researcher simply approaches people in a public area to ask questions, such as in a grocery store or shopping mall for example. These people might be trying to determine something simple, such as if a certain color bottle of laundry detergent makes someone more or less likely to purchase that product.