“What are your hobbies?” is an interview question that can provide insight into how you’ll fit in with other members of the team; it can also provide insight into your life priorities. Another purpose of this question, however, may be to gauge how you react to the unexpected.
Interviewers often ask questions which seem out of left-field (questions like “what are your hobbies?”) in order to evaluate your ability to think on your feet when a situation takes an unexpected turn. The answer you provide, and the manner in which you provide it, will typically provide a peek into your personality and how you handle stress.
The Best Approach
Take it in stride—treat this like any other question that you might expect to hear in an interview.
Be comfortable. You’re just talking about the things you enjoy doing, so speak along the lines of casual conversation.
Mentioning hobbies that relate to your work can be helpful (for example, tell them about your love of golf and baseball if you’re applying to work in a sporting goods store).
Keep it professional. Stay focused on the types of hobbies which would be appropriate to talk about if you were an actual employee.
Be consistent with what you are sharing/listing on social media, because there’s a good chance your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts have been reviewed by the interviewers.
Understand that the hobby you mention as a job candidate will be remembered when you are an employee. In fact, it could be mentioned in a company-wide email that introduces you, so be prepared to discuss it later.
Have a little fun and show a bit of personality with questions like these—it’s a great way to put your confidence on display.
A hobby is something you enjoy doing in your leisure time. If a hobby doesn’t immediately spring to mind, take some time to consider what you do in your spare time that could be considered a hobby. Answer the question in a manner similar to this one: “What do you do in your spare time?” And here’s some additional info on what constitutes a hobby:
1. Something that relaxes you, or brings you pleasure.
2. Something you do for fun on a frequent basis.
3. Something you would do more often if you had more time for it!
4. Watching TV and searching the Internet are not hobbies, unless, for example:
You watch cooking shows and scour the Internet for recipes in order to up your chef game—this could translate to cooking being your hobby.
You watch Antiques Road Show, check out consignment stores for unique knick-knacks and artwork, and buy and sell vintage goods on eBay. This could translate to antiquing or thrifting being your hobby.
5. Volunteering, taking classes, and simply reading books are often unrecognized hobbies. Keep that in mind!
Don’t worry if you can’t directly connect your hobbies to the job or industry. Your hobbies can demonstrate other skills or strengths that an interviewer might find interesting or unique or even humorous.
But do try to connect your hobbies to the job or industry, if possible—doing so sends a strong indication of the depth of your interest in the field.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Make sure your filter is in place when discussing your personal life. Be forthright but keep yourself in check.
Telling an interviewer you have no hobbies can make you appear reluctant to talk about yourself. Talk family, pets, community, leisure activities, club and association memberships, etc. Definitely don’t decline to answer the question!
Avoid discussing hobbies that might paint you in a negative or irresponsible light, like gambling.
Don’t trap yourself by trying to relate your answer solely to work—be honest and share a bit about yourself.
Don’t appear frazzled or confused by the question. Expected the unexpected in any job interview. While this question is not an everyday one, it’s also rather light. Relax and have some fun when answering!
Don’t create a non-existent hobby. If you land the job, your hobbies (or lack of) may become visible, and no one likes to hire a liar.
Avoid sharing too much information. This is not a question that requires a 10-minute answer. If follow-up questions are asked, answer them, but try not to go on and on forever. You don’t need to provide a full biography—just enough to show your interviewer that you’re a real person with real interests, and that you’re at ease when it comes to thinking on your feet.
The following answers to the question “what are your hobbies?” come from completely different directions and provide you with an idea of how to structure your answer to this question. But each answer reflects an actual hobby.
Going to the beach or the park with your family can qualify as a hobby, as this example displays an acceptable approach:
“Work and family accounts for a lot of my time, but on the weekends, we like to get out and enjoy nature. We take the kids camping at least four times a year and try to get out to the beach or the park every weekend. It’s a good way us to refresh and reset before tackling the work week, and a great way to get exercise.”
This response maintains a focus on work and family while providing an honest and thorough answer to the actual question.
Perhaps reading is your hobby. Then, you might explain it like this:
“I love reading mystery novels. I got hooked on the genre through Miss Marple and Sherlock on PBS, but almost fully transitioned to books after discovering how quickly I turn pages when actually reading mysteries. I’m so immersed that I’m actually considering taking a writing class so I can write my own.”
This is something you do all by yourself, but it is a hobby when you do it repeatedly, and for pleasure and intellectual stimulation.
Perhaps you’re an animal lover who enjoys working with dogs.
“I love animals and helping people. A couple of years ago I adopted a labradoodle named Billie, and began visiting an elderly shut-in neighbor with her. My neighbor loved her, and it was clear from the start how much joy she brought him. This gave me the idea of devoting some time each week to training therapy dogs at my local shelter. I’m now a certified dog trainer, and currently spend four hours every weekend training therapy dogs. I also occasionally get to take them to local nursing homes for resident visits.”