When interviewers ask you about your hobbies during the job interview, it might seem like they are initiating small talk. There is a specific goal behind this question because your answer gives the interviewer insights into your skills, capacities, and interests that common interview questions do not always show. ‘What are your hobbies?’ is an interview question that can also give the interviewer insight into how you will fit into the team and company culture.
Another reason interviewers ask this question is to see how you react to a random, unexpected question that you might not directly relate to the job. The answer you give to this question and the way how you convey your answer provides the interviewer with information on how you handle stress and unexpected situations. Showing confidence and providing solid answers are key to success when answering ‘what are your hobbies?’.
There are also several other questions the interviewer can ask to get more information about your interests, such as:
In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer is asking questions about your hobbies. Also, we tell you what you should focus on when answering questions that regard your personal interests. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Why Interviewers Are Interested In Your Hobbies
By asking a question such as ‘What are your hobbies’ interviewers want to get to know you better. It’s a proven way for interviewers to find out more about your personality and how well you fit into the company culture.
A lack of cultural fit is one of the main reasons why employees decide to leave a company. Therefore, for employers, a cultural fit is just as important as the right skills and work experience when it comes to their hiring process.
Interviewers look for candidates who are well-rounded. Also, they want to know if you’re passionate about certain things in your life, outside of work. This is also the reason why they are asking about your hobbies, interests, and activities that you are interested in. A better insight into your interests, hobbies, and personality helps employers determine whether or not you’re a good fit for the job.
What The Interviewer Wants To Know
By asking you what your hobbies are the interviewer basically wants to get to know your personality a bit more. Below we discuss the foremost reasons why interviewers ask this question.
To get to know your personally
Besides your skills, abilities, qualifications, and work experience, the interviewer is interested in your personality. By asking a question about your hobbies, they get you to open up a bit more, which gives them the possibility to analyze if you’re a balanced and well-rounded individual.
When you’re answering, the interviewers question they can get a feel of who you are outside of work. Do you pursue any passions? What are your interests outside of work? Whatever hobbies or passions you choose to discuss with the interviewer, it should show that you’re enthusiastic and dedicated showing who you really are.
Learn more about personal job interview questions and how to answer them.
To see what skills you can offer the role and company
Besides being someone that has a life outside of the office and demonstrating that you’re a balanced individual, it’s important to provide answers that include your abilities and skills. For example, include answers that show:
- That you’re team-orientated.
- That you’re actively working on improving your skills.
- General interests outside of work.
- That you’re well-rounded and have a balanced personality.
- That you are able to set goals and stick to them.
- Your leadership skills and experience.
- That you’re passionate about things.
To see if you fit the culture of the company well
As discussed earlier, A lack of cultural fit within a company is one of the main reasons that employees leave an organization. The interviewer wants to find out if you match the company culture by asking about your hobbies.
These interview questions are meant to find candidates whose beliefs, values, and behavior fit in with the company culture. Even if you possess all the required experience and qualifications if you do not fit within the culture of the company, it could result in an unhealthy atmosphere in the workplace.
How To Answer ‘What Are Your Hobbies?’
So, you understand the underlying reasons for interviewers to ask this question, but how should you actually answer, and what should you avoid?
Firstly, never say or claim that you have no hobbies. When the interviewer asks about your hobbies, don’t answer ‘I have no hobbies.’ Besides that, it shows a lack of initiative and interest, it does not reveal anything about your personality; which is what the interviewer is interested in.
You have to have some sort of passion in your life that you can discuss so that the interviewer can get some personal information about you and assess your cultural fit. Because let’s face it, that is what your interviewer is trying to determine.
This is why you need to practice your interview answer in advance meaning that you need to prepare an answer that is sincere about yourself. The first thing you need to focus on is providing relevant answers that actually provide the interviewer with information that he or she is looking for.
For example, if you’re applying to be an analyst at a brokerage firm you can talk about your hobbies that relate to problem-solving elements. Think of hobbies such as learning new languages, designing, puzzles (i,e, crosswords or sudoku), and also sports such as hiking or golf.
If your hobbies include a group or community activity you definitely want to share this during a job interview. If you are a local football team’s head coach, tell the interviewer. A hobby like this requires, among other positive qualities, planning skills, leadership, and confidence. Almost any hobby can be related to problem-solving and requires thinking and doing.
If you play sports on a competitive level you can talk about your role on the team, for example, how you discuss team strategies but also your team’s home and away match logistics to ensure cost-effective transportation to get everyone there. Mentioning exercise and health-related activities is always a good idea just as any volunteer work and other community participation you did.
Whatever you come up with, make sure that your answers involve your skills and interests. This is where you can use some creativity. For example, if you play an instrument, paint, or write, you can bring this up. It will show that you’re a creative personality with broader interests. Describe how these activities improve your lateral thinking skills, enhance your ability to inventively approach tasks, and drive your use of available resources.
Avoid any answers that will make you show uninterested or inappropriate. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, never claim you have no hobbies. Keep it brief, concise, and honest. Also, only tell them about your hobbies that you can relate to the job or the company. It’s also wise to avoid politics, religion, or sex because it’s the fastest way to alienate another person if their views are different from yours.
Tips For Answering Questions About Your Hobbies
Below we sum up what you can mention when answering the interview questions ‘What are your hobbies?’. Also, we discuss what you should avoid in answers because it could hurt your chances of landing the job you’re applying for.
What to mention about your hobbies
It’s important to get a good understanding of what you should mention when discussing your hobbies during a job interview. Focus on positive activities that you’re actively involved in outside of work. Think for example of health-related and exercise activities.
Other examples that you could discuss with the interviewer are volunteer positions and community participation. You can also focus on your development as a professional and for instance your continuing education.
What to avoid in answers about your hobbies
Never say that you do not have any hobbies. Other than that, it’s important that you avoid anything that could be viewed as (too) controversial. This could hurt your chances of advancing to the next interview rounds or even eliminate you from the hiring process.
Example Answers To ‘What Are Your Hobbies?’
Here are a couple of sample responses that could help you when an interviewer asks you about your hobbies and interests. To formulate your own responses you can use these as a guideline.
Example Answer 1: ‘What Are Your Hobbies?’
‘I enjoy playing sports and go to the gym to workout often. In the job advertisement, I saw that the company has a gym for its employees. Besides that this is really convenient for me to keep up with my workout routine, it also gives me the opportunity to meet other colleagues in the gym and get to know them outside of work.’
Why this is a strong answer:
The answer above is a perfect example of demonstrating that you’re energetic, vital, and can cope with stress. Exercising, fitness, and sports, in general, are great to discuss as a hobby. Furthermore, you link your hobby to the job description and show that you’re looking forward to meeting other employees in a more casual setting.
Example Answer 2: ‘What Are Your Hobbies?’
‘I always enjoyed reading which is also my main hobby. I’m an avid reader and I try to read at least one non-fiction book every quarter. What I like about reading is that it can transport me to another location while I’m still in my house. I’ve been attending book club meetings as well. I enjoy discussing what I’ve read with others and it’s interesting how many points of view and interpretations you get to discuss.’
Why this is a strong answer:
The answer above shows that you have a rich imagination and that you’re active on a creative level outside of work. You discuss what you like doing and also that you value other people’s opinions en interpretations. This indicates that you’re a team player and that you’re willing to listen to other points of view.
Example answer 3: ‘What Are Your Hobbies?’
‘One of my extra-curricular activities is helping others out in my free time through volunteer work and community activities. I coach a junior basketball team in my neighborhood. I also volunteer a couple of hours a week at my local library where I help sorting the returned books.’
Why this is a strong answer:
When discussing your hobbies and you happen to be active in volunteering work and/or community activities, mention this. This shows that you have high character and that you care about other people, besides yourself.
Example Answer 4: ‘What Are Your Hobbies?’
‘I am actively working on gaining more professional knowledge in my field of work to make sure that I stay up-to-date. For instance, to stay a member of the professional association you need to have at least 10 hours of verifiable self-study.
By attending seminars, reading professional journals, and taking online classes I make sure that I make more hours than needed. This is my way of keeping up my knowledge and area of expertise.’
Why this is a strong answer:
Some professions require self-study and self-development hours. By discussing and demonstrating that you’re actively working on your skills, knowledge, and abilities you show the interviewer that you take your work seriously and that you’re improving yourself on an ongoing basis.
Other examples of personal interests and hobbies are:
- Volunteer work
- Social activities (i.e. book clubs)
- Thought hobbies (i.e. chess)
- Collecting (i.e. coins, rare books, stamps, etc.)
- Music (i.e. playing an instrument)
- Art (i.e. creating)
- Writing, reading
- Any other job-related activities
Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic