How to Answer the Interview Question: "What Are Your Hobbies?"
Why Do Recruiters Ask This Question?
Recruiters will usually ask this question when they are confident about the rest of your experience and qualifications. They sense that you are a good material fit for the organization, and now they need to deduce whether you are also a good cultural fit. This question is a great way for them to gain insight into your personality.
Recruiters may be trying to subtly work out whether or not you are adept at balancing your work and personal life, so by giving a prepared and engaging answer, you will be able to settle a recruiter’s concerns on that score.
When showing enthusiasm and providing details about your hobbies, be careful not to give the impression that your personal activities will interfere with your work.
What Are Employers Looking for in Your Answer?
Insight Into Who You Are
This includes not only who you are as a person, but also if you are a good cultural fit for the organization.
By asking about your hobbies, the recruiter is looking to gain a natural insight into your personality and individual driving force which may not necessarily be revealed by your experience and qualifications.
To retain employees, many forward-thinking companies are now making room within their hiring structure for certain personality types. Many companies have realized that an essential aspect to hiring within our contemporary society is recruiting personalities that fit into company culture, ethos and team structure.
How Your Hobbies Link to the Role
You may have neither the time nor the opportunity in other parts of the interview to show the full scope of your direct or transferable skills for the role.
Hobbies are also a great way to bolster an interview where you may feel that you are lacking in experience. For example, your volunteering at a local scout group may show your transferable leadership qualities where you have not had such experience in a job role.
Further Talking Points
It can be all too easy in an interview scenario to find the flow becoming stilted. Injecting your interview with some real-life experience that you are naturally enthusiastic about will undoubtedly lend some energy to the situation.
A Memorable Interview
By talking intelligently about hobbies that relate well to the job role, you are giving your recruiter useful prompts to remember you by. You are also providing them with subtle alignment cues that can steer you towards being hired.
Tips for the Interview Question, 'What Are Your Hobbies?'
Take a Moment to Think About Your Response
Depending on how the rest of the interview has panned out, you will need to judge which of your prepared answers is the best one to give.
Don’t stress about answering as quickly as possible. It’s far better to take a breath and answer when you feel comfortable and confident, rather than rushing and either getting tangled or choosing a badly matched response.
Talk About (Genuine) Hobbies that Relate to the Role
Remember to keep your answers concise and make sure that they have some direct or natural association with the role.
It is prudent to consider which hobbies you may wish to mention. For example, an aggressive or very dynamic hobby may not sit well with a fairly sedentary desk job.
Include What You Enjoy About the Hobby
To make yourself sound more credible, you can make it clear that you are thoughtful enough to pick hobbies that positively impact you. For example, if you love hill walking and would list it as one of your hobbies, you could unpack elements of:
- Reconnecting with nature
- Challenging yourself
- Clearing away mental clutter
- Exploring new places
All of these points indicate a positive, motivated mindset that would make a great impression on an interviewer.
Talk About the Skills/Experience You Have Gained Through the Hobby
By unpacking your hobby in this way, you are showing that you choose to spend your free time wisely and that your work and your life are not only balanced, but the two complement each other.
This will also bolster the rest of your interview and allow you to expand on your skills that you may not get a chance to mention elsewhere.
Use an Example to Showcase Your Skills and Strengths
Consider your hobbies as you would the rest of your work experience, and clearly show the recruiter how they relate to the job role. By explaining what your hobbies involve, you will be helping your recruiter to see how you are a good fit.
Never assume that your recruiter will understand every component of an activity that you mention. For example, if you mention that you are part of a tag rugby team, explain the necessary dedication of time to matches, team and individual strength training, and maintenance of team connections.
A great way to make sure your answers are on point and concise is to employ the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) when answering.
I volunteer once a week at my local food bank. There were different roles available when I joined, and I opted for the host role. I have been doing this regularly for the past year.
Volunteering is a great way to show empathy and care. By choosing to spend your free time helping others, you are valuing the wellbeing of other people and your community.
As well as giving an impression of a selfless character, the volunteering described in this example shows an outgoing personality with good interpersonal skills and a credible leaning towards leadership. It also shows a trustworthy and reliable character who can be relied upon to show up consistently.
This hobby would support an application for transition to management, or a customer-facing role, such as telesales.
I started taking ballet classes for the first time last year. At first, I was a bit nervous, but now I’ve got into the swing of it, I love it.
I go with my roommate; it’s a great way to connect with her outside of the space we share and it also challenges me in different ways. I enjoy keeping fit through activities that keep me engaged in both body and mind.
This answer is carefully thought out. It speaks of an individual who is not afraid to show their vulnerable side. It also shows a curious mind that enjoys being challenged, as well as a healthy focus on activities that promote wellbeing.
Furthermore, the detail about the roommate is important – it shows emotional intelligence and a team spirit.
This would be a great answer for any level of employment as this hobby is an interesting talking point. It also relates well to a company culture where the individual may need to work closely with certain team members.
I go to a painting class once a week. It’s a lovely way to center myself and gain some tranquility after a busy day.
I first picked up sketching pencils at a free class at the local art gallery, and now enjoy doing it as a way to wind down and make new friends.
This answer also shows a level of emotional intelligence, within the context of being in tune with personal energy levels and balancing a busy work life with more relaxing activities at home. However, resting does not need to mean slumping on the sofa. Regrouping in this way affords this individual time to build on a skill and to make friends.
This would be an answer suitable for a job role that is demanding and busy. It should go some way to reassuring the recruiter that you can cope in a busy situation because you know the best way to unwind and release tension.
It may also be a good answer for a job role that is quite solitary. It shows that you are nurturing yourself via new relationships outside of work, but are also contentedly occupied in an activity that doesn’t demand a lot of group participation.
I enjoy going to a Portuguese class once a week. It’s very different from other languages I’ve learned before and I’m relishing the challenge. The classes are held at a local Portuguese café, so it’s fun trying out the food after class and attending class socials at the restaurant.
I’m looking forward to being able to use the language on my trip to Brazil next year.
There are many subtle cues in this answer that give the interviewer lots of scope for gaining a great impression of the interviewee. This answer is an excellent example of a bolster for an individual who may not have lots of experience or qualifications but can make up for it by demonstrating curiosity, intelligence and skill in their hobby.
This kind of answer would suit a job role requiring front-facing customer communication skills and a good level of intelligence, such as classroom support or sales.
What to Avoid
Saying That You Have No Hobbies
This makes it sound as if you have no life outside of your job role, which in turn hints at an uninteresting or disinterested personality type – not attractive to any recruiter.
If you are struggling to think of specific hobbies, consider how you divide your time outside of work. Perhaps you make seeing and catching up with friends your priority. If this is the case, explain what you like to do with friends – perhaps you have a passion for trying out different foods at a variety of restaurants, or you like to immerse yourself in another world at the cinema.
Exaggerating Your Hobbies
Being dishonest in any way won’t reflect well on you. Even if you get away with it at the interview stage, you run the risk of being found out later, which will reflect badly on you.
Your recruiter could also ask questions that you may not be able to answer, potentially leading to embarrassment and awkwardness on your part.
Sounding as if You Spend All Your Time on Hobbies
A packed-out diary full of activities may look great to you, but to an employer, it may indicate an employee who is burning the candle at both ends and does not have a sense of work-life balance.
Hobbies that are flexible, or happen once or twice a week, are ideal ones to mention. This shows that you can commit to regular activities, but that you are not inflexible or trying to jam too many things into your schedule.
Talking Too Much
As much as it is tempting to enthuse about your hobbies – after all, these are the activities that you choose to fill your time with – avoid overdoing it and spending too much of your precious interview time on this answer. Remember that there are other components to get through during the interview.
By answering clearly and concisely, you will also be showing the interviewer your communication skills.
Mentioning Hobbies That May Negatively Impact Your Work
An example of this is a side hustle, as it may be a cause for concern for your recruiter. They may see it as a sign that your heart is not with the job role on offer.
It may also lead your recruiter to believe that you may not be fully focused on the job at hand.
Mentioning Controversial Hobbies
Any hobbies that may be perceived as contentious are not worth mentioning for the sake of good relations with your interviewer.
For example, a hobby that reveals strong ties to a religious or political organization may cause controversy or discomfort – potentially at the interview or later on within the workplace.
Relating Your Hobbies to Personal Issues
Although this question sounds like a personal one, it is still an important part of the structured interview process. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you treat this answer professionally.
Do not relate it to your personal life as it distracts focus away from the interview and also looks unprofessional.
Speaking About a Hobby That Doesn’t Relate to the Role
This is where practicing your answer to this question will help you. It will ensure you remain as calm and collected as possible on the day, rather than scrabbling for answers that might not match well to the job role in question, or show you in your best light.
This can be an easy mistake to make if you are nervous or have a variety of different hobbies. Choose wisely.
Not Practicing Possible Answers
A little practice beforehand goes a long way to helping you feel confident on the day. If possible, try to practice with a trusted friend or family member so that you have another opinion and a sense of how it will feel to communicate your answer to another person.
However, do not over-rehearse your answer, as it may make you sound over-prepared and strip your answer of your personality.
- Speak enthusiastically about your hobby – Infusing the interview with some personality and spirit can go a long way to creating a lasting good impression on your interviewer. Equally, making sure that you mention the positive impacts of your hobby – what it has enabled you to do and learn – will help to strengthen the rest of your application.
- End with a solid conclusion – To sound confident in your answer, end on a solid note; don’t ramble or falter. A strong conclusion will add credence to the rest of your interview and show that you are self-assured and confident in the activities you choose to fill your personal life with.
- Generic or rambling answers – Through the use of the STAR method, you will be able to keep your answers on track. Take time before the interview to research the company’s corporate culture. This will give you the best opportunity to give answers that will complement it.
Remember that you are answering this question from the perspective of being capable of doing the job in question, and also as a well-suited member of the company team.
Remember your interviewer may also be asking this question to give you a chance to shine and to relax a little. Interviews are notoriously high-pressure environments, and this might give you the chance to gain extra confidence to kick your interview into winning gear.
Lastly, do not stress over what hobbies you choose to mention in your interview. Keep it genuine and considered, and you won’t go far wrong. Genuine passion will always shine through and make you seem more confident, magnetic and poised.