Some interview questions are difficult to answer, while others can catch us off guard. The question “what are your hobbies outside of work?” can initially seem irrelevant. After all, how would your answer impact your ability to work? Do recruiters care about your personal life?
Recruiters ask this question for two reasons. First, they want to see if you’re a well-rounded person. Second, they want to check how your hobbies relate to your primary work tasks.
But most of all, recruiters want to test for culture fit. Unless your hobbies or interests are controversial, too simple, or irrelevant, your recruiter won’t judge you for how you spend your free time. In fact, they’re more likely to disqualify you if you don’t have any hobbies at all.
How to Plan Your “What are Your Hobbies?” Answer
By taking the time to evaluate your hobbies and interests, you can determine how these activities could benefit your prospective employer.
Here’s how to plan your answer.
1. Write Down Your Applicable Interests and Hobbies
There are hundreds of hobbies that could easily relate to your new position. For example, traveling, volunteering, sports, a creative pastime, or gardening. Even seemingly irrelevant hobbies can be relevant if you focus on the skills you gained from your favorite activity.
Do some employers use the hobbies question as an icebreaker? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan your answer. Employers appreciate it when you put thought into your replies, as it helps them consider your general culture fit and gauge how passionate you are.
2. Identify Relevant Qualities, Talents, and Skills
Whether you’re searching for employment opportunities online, like on Lensa, or in person, every job posting will describe their ideal candidate. For example, an employer may ask for a person with teamwork, patience, or adaptability skills, as they may complement the role.
If you have any of the qualities the job posting is looking for, make sure to include them on your resume. Not only will this help you bypass ATS software (as they rank your suitability based on keywords), but you’ll need to match these qualities with your relevant hobbies and interests.
3. Find a Relationship Between Your Hobbies and Skills
Suppose you’re an avid reader and you’re applying for a customer service position. It can be hard to understand the connection between customer service and reading (beyond reading work documents), but reading actually increases focus, improves empathy, and reduces stress.
A customer service agent needs to be focused to listen to customers, empathetic to offer kind advice, and relaxed to avoid becoming frustrated. By highlighting the positives of reading, you’re setting yourself up as a determined, kind, and understanding customer service agent.
How to Answer “What are Your Hobbies?” Question
It’s a good idea to practice your answers to common interview questions so you don’t say the wrong thing or ramble.
Here’s how to answer the “what are your hobbies?” interview question.
1. Search the Company for Clues
Certain employers will react more positively to specific answers. For example, some employers want you to relate your hobbies to the job, while others expect you to have a life outside of work. Research the company’s culture to determine what they value and what answer they prefer.
2. Choose One Hobby or Activity
Some of us have more than one hobby, but you need to keep your answer focused during the interview. This allows you to spend more time discussing the skills you learned while indulging in said hobby. If you don’t have a hobby, choose something you do daily, like cooking.
3. Smile While Talking About It
Our hobbies bring us joy, and your employer wants to see if your happiness shines through when discussing your interests. You may forget to smile because you’re nervous. Do a body check before you answer to make sure you’re relaxed, maintaining eye contact, and smiling.
4. Discuss Company Culture Fit
Your employer is curious if your hobbies will make you more or less productive. However, they may be looking for cultural similarities. If you recently volunteered at an animal shelter, ask if the prospective employer is involved in any charitable works or if they plan to do so in the future.
5. Use an In-Action Example
If your hobby is volunteering, don’t just say “volunteering” without any context. Talk about how the experience introduced you to new people or helped you understand your community. You could also talk about a time you used your learned skills to help other volunteers or clients.
6. Ask About Future Opportunities
Some employers or job positions will be directly applicable to your company. For example, many companies will volunteer their time or money for a cause. Asking your potential employer if they encourage employee participation, creativity, or health can show your interest in the company.
7. Don’t Be or Act Too Personal
The last thing you want to do is offend a potential employer, so avoid discussing controversial hobbies, asking the interviewer personal questions, or talking about your hobbies at length. Focus on common hobbies and keep your answers short (write a 3-4 sentence answer).
About the Author
Sarilaya Cada is a freelance content writer. She is interested in a wide range of fields, from project management, to education, to engineering.