Answering the “What Are Your Hobbies?” Interview Question (With Samples!)
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Is the “What Are Your Hobbies?” Interview Question Standard?Asking about hobbies at a job interview is becoming a controversial topic among career experts and HR professionals nowadays. Though some say such questions help the HR department get to know the applicants and their soft skills better through understanding what they like to do in their spare time, others protest against this line of questioning, believing it to be a violation of privacy.
Not only is it none of their business to know what potential employees do outside of working hours, this group also believes that innocent answers can easily be misunderstood and painted in a negative light.
Nevertheless, the “What are your hobbies?” interview question is floating around out there. In order to be ready for anything, you must prepare to talk about your hobbies for interview purposes.
What Is the Purpose of Asking “What Are Your Hobbies?” in an Interview?
When a hiring manager or interview panel asks “What are your hobbies?” in the middle of an interview, they might actually be asking about your hobbies. Then again, they might have inserted the question for a completely different reason.
- They might be initiating small talk to see how you are at keeping a conversation going. In some positions, small talk is a valuable skill, and if you fumble here because you aren’t prepared, the results won’t bode well.
- They might be seeking insight into your skills, interests, and passions. Show them you have a zest for life and a cosmopolitan flair!
- They might be trying to surprise you with a random, unexpected question unrelated to the job itself. Show you can turn on a dime and not break a sweat.
No matter the motives, you must view the “What are your hobbies?” interview question as an opportunity to show yourself in the best light.
This is the approach recommended by Shiv Gupta, CEO of Incrementors SEO Services.
Some of your extracurricular activities may be directly relevant to this particular position or organization. Discuss the activities that qualify you for tasks, training, and other workplace progress. The company’s recent involvement in charity work or its positive employee surveys. This procedure can help you focus on the vital details and demonstrate your skills, qualities, or values.
Of course, your hobbies and interests may not relate directly to the prospective position. That’s okay. No matter what your current hobbies are, there’s a way to frame your “What are your interests?” interview answer to show you can bring value to the team and the organization as a whole.
This simply requires some care, attention, and forethought on your part.
“How Should I Talk About My Hobby so the Interviewer Takes Value Out of It?”
The specific hobbies or skills you mention are less important than how you mention them.
- Don’t simply list your hobbies with no elaboration
- Don’t act embarrassed or shy about your hobbies
- Don’t breeze over them as if these interests don’t matter to you
Remember, this question is an opportunity for you to reveal not only your sense of passion and engagement with the world, but it’s also a chance for you to give yourself a boost as a job candidate.
Whatever else you do, be sure you consciously connect your hobbies to useful, transferable skills that will benefit you in your new position, and therefore be a benefit to your prospective employer.
According to Andriy Bogdanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Online Divorce, it is of utmost importance that you create an obvious connection between hobbies and the beneficial overall skills they have afforded you.
Sincerity is paramount but do focus on applicable interests and hobbies in relation to the job. Some of those I have interviewed gave me interesting answers like traveling, blogging, and gardening. The most impressive are those who were able to relate their hobbies and interests to the job they were applying for. Providing a reply that will show the recruiter a skill you learned from a specific hobby or interest will earn you points. Answering the question by simply narrating a litany of sports or other interests without citing its benefits to the company would set you back by a few points.
Context is vital for hiring managers to understand the value of your interests and hobbies, and that context can only be provided by you.
For example, perhaps you enjoy playing video games in your spare time. While fellow gamers might automatically link this hobby to strength in intellectual problem solving, non-gamers might buy into stereotypes and assume that a gaming hobby means you don’t like to interact with real humans and that you rarely rise from the couch over the weekend.
None of this might be true, but if you don’t draw the connections for those interviewing you, they could be judging you based on their own preconceived notions.
With the right context and explanation, however, you can pivot this answer so that your prospective employer sees your hobby as a benefit rather than a distraction from your work.
How to Answer the “What Are Your Hobbies” Interview Questions: 3 Sample Responses
No matter what your hobbies are, you can prepare a “What do you do for fun?” job interview answer that enhances your hireability and gets you one step closer to landing the job you want.
Sample 1: The Runner
While most of us have met at least one runner who never stops talking about running, this is one opportunity you shouldn’t let pass you by.
- Have learned how to overcome obstacles
- Follow plans and programs to prepare for long races
- Know when to push and when to slow down so they don’t injure themselves
All these and more can easily be pivoted into qualities that can benefit the company.
I’ve been running since college. I find it a good way to stay fit, have fun, and get some fresh air at the same time. As a matter of fact, when I’m running, I find that the rhythm and monotony actually help my brain loosen up and practice some creative problem-solving, especially when I’m running long distances. I’ll just be putting my miles in, letting my mind wander, and then suddenly, BAM! My brain will come up with a solution to a problem I hadn’t even been thinking about at the moment! It’s amazing. Must be all that oxygen to the brain! This has come in handy more than once on major projects.
Sample 2: The Artist
While artists can have a reputation for being flighty and fanciful, these are just stereotypes.
- Have increased neural matter in specific parts of their brains
- Look at the world with a sense of beauty, wonder, and possibility
- Exercise patience in completing projects
In middle school, I took a painting class because I didn’t want to be in band, and that was my only other option. I’m so glad! It’s been one of the most unexpectedly rewarding decisions of my life. I haven’t stopped painting since, and though my skills are still improving, I’ve found that the artistic discipline itself balances out some of my Type-A, hyper-focused tendences and reminds me to relax, unwind, and reconnect with the world outside of work. After I’ve been at the canvas, I always return to the office renewed, refreshed, and in the right headspace to collaborate more effectively with others.
Sample 3: The Gardener
Some people may think of gardening as a hobby for the retired, but gardening has no age limits.
Gardeners also tend to be the types who
- Have learned perseverance over seasons
- Purposefully increased their knowledge of horticulture and the local environment
- Found a way to stay fit and active while bringing beauty into the world
Lately I’ve really gotten into gardening! My partner and I have a small yard, but we put in some raised garden beds and planted flowers and herbs. Our first season wasn’t too spectacular, but we learned what we did wrong, readjusted the next year, and enjoyed fresh flowers and herbs all season long. As much as I’ve loved learning about gardening itself, I’ve also loved learning about how to adjust my thinking, discover new realities, and try better the next time. It’s a skill I’ve been able to bring with me from the garden to the office.
“What If I Don’t Have a Hobby?”
This could be one of the trickier parts of your interview: how to answer the interview question “What are your hobbies?” if you don’t have any hobbies.
The truth is, everyone has hobbies, passions, and interests outside work. Yours might just be so fully integrated into your life that you haven’t recognized it as a hobby.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help identify your hobbies:
- Who cooks the meals at my house?
- How many books do I read per year?
- What do I like to do to relax when I’m tired or stressed?
- Do I fix things around the house myself instead of calling for a repairperson? Why do I do that?
- What do my friends and family members know me for?
In answering these questions, you likely discovered something about yourself that you can mention as a hobby.
If that exercise proved less than helpful, select something you do as part of your daily routine, even if it’s something basic like cooking, cleaning, or exercising, and form your answer around that.
One of the worst ways to answer this question is to state that you have no interests, passions, or hobbies. At best, you would come across as guarded and defensive. At worst, you’d seem uninterested in the world around you or unprepared to talk about yourself and your life. Neither of these is a good look for a job interview. With a bit of preparation, though, you can easily avoid disaster.
While not everyone will face the “What are your hobbies?” interview question, at least some employers are still asking prospective workers “What do you like to do outside of work?”
In order to prepare a sensible answer to this interview question:
- Consider why the question is being asked
- Plan one or two hobbies/interests that you could potentially mention
- Think about how you can present your answer so that the interviewers see the value in your hobby and how the company could benefit in the long run
There’s really nothing more to it than that.
With some forward-thinking, anyone can answer interview questions about hobbies and interests with confidence.
More Resources for Job Interview Questions and More!
Beyond answering the “What are your hobbies?” interview question, you will want to be prepared for every other aspect of your next job interview. Check out other resources available from Lensa, and walk into your next interview ready for anything!