Job Interview Question

What are your hobbies?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Asking about your hobbies and interests seems like an odd interview question, but companies are asking more and more of those ‘personality’ type questions these days in an effort to make sure that you’re going to be a good cultural fit for the organization.  And the indirectness of this question is also sort of a fishing expedition for them to see if you’ll reveal things about yourself that you otherwise wouldn’t.

It’s not an innocuous question.  They will read things into your answer, whether you intend for them to or not, and they will be influenced by what you say.

You’ve got a couple of strategic opportunities to take advantage of when answering this question.  The first one is making a connection with the interviewer.  This is a great place to build rapport.  For that reason, stick with talking about hobbies that most people can identify with.  (You can’t build rapport if they can’t identify with you.)

So first of all, whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of talking about your crocheting or your ultimate fighting championship!  Those both can have negative connotations for various audiences.  Crocheting makes you seem ‘older’ and less culturally current, while ultimate fighting will make some hiring managers worry that you have a violent streak.

For example, even though I personally like to shoot my pistol in target practice, there are a few people that would not sit well with, so I wouldn’t mention that.  Instead, I would choose to talk about another hobby, riding horses.

The second opportunity is a chance to influence how they think of you as a candidate.  This is a fantastic place to talk about hobbies that make you look either energetic or smart.  Running is good.  Hiking or walking are also positive activities.  Traveling is always a good one.  Reading is great, or any kind of continuing education piece.

I always like to hear candidates talk about taking classes to learn something because I think that says something very positive about you, that you’re willing to invest in yourself and that you’re willing to learn and try new things.

Especially if you’re an older candidate, this hobby question can be a strong way for you to communicate that you have a lot of energy or that you’re interested in new technology or that you like to learn new things.  All of those things go to alleviating any fears they have about your age.

Just remember that even something as small as a hobby can help you build the case for hiring you.


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