In the context of an interview, some questions are puzzling to the interviewee. Why does a potential employer need to know my greatest weakness or what I do with my free time? While some of these queries sound pointless, answering “it’s none of your business” isn’t a good idea.
That’s because your potential employer is checking for culture fit and what excites you beyond work. Sure, you may be a content creator, but that isn’t all you are. Do you write think-pieces on Sundays? Do you read books? Or, do you focus on building experiences away from the desk?
If an interviewer is interested in you for the job, they need to know if you’re a well-rounded person, and asking about your hobbies, activities, or interests is the best way to do just that.
What the interviewer wants to know
While culture fit is essential for employers, your interviewer is also checking if your hobbies will interfere with your job duties. They also want to know if your hobbies are skilled and useful.
According to Lensa, you should “consciously connect your hobbies to useful, transferable skills that will benefit you in your new position.” This connection is crucial because it shows your potential employer that your hobbies include skills or traits that are directly relevant to your job.
When discussing your hobbies with HR and the manager, be sure to mention at least one of the following:
- Community-based activities, like volunteering or charity-based work.
- Non-controversial or common interests, like reading or watching movies.
- Professional development hobbies, like language learning or online courses.
- Health-related activities, like sports, yoga, exercising, or dancing.
- Creative hobbies, like cooking, drawing, and listening to or playing music.
The hobby you choose to discuss should reflect positively on your personality. It should be something you love to talk about, as your interviewer will see your zeal as a good thing.
What the Interviewer won’t want to hear
Although your interviewer will generally accept any hobby that’s relevant, exciting, skillful, or helpful, you need to make sure your interests don't accidentally reveal you’re a poor fit.
That’s because some relevant hobbies could trigger red flags in your interviewer's brain. For example, if you’re a fitness coach who travels frequently for MMA matches, your interviewer may worry about healthcare costs, frequent absences, and an abundance of vacation hours.
You should only mention hobbies that are applicable to the job and don’t increase the possibility of injury or travel. You should also avoid the following answers when discussing your hobbies:
- Anything controversial, like politics, religion, or anything that could be or is illegal.
- Over exaggerating parts of your hobby or lying about being good at something.
- Rambling about your personal life. Answers should be short and sweet.
- Hobbies that don’t excite you. Interviewers will assume you’re lying or unmotivated.
- Never say you don’t have any hobbies, even if that’s true (more on that later).
Planning for the “what are your hobbies” question is the best way to avoid mentioning anything that could disqualify you from a position. In fact, it’s in your best interest to review other common interview questions, as you’ll be more prepared to answer anything your interviewer may ask.
How to plan for the “what are your hobbies?” question
Read the job description for clues
Employers often indicate what skills they require to perform job-related tasks, including personality traits or soft skills. For example, “teamwork skills,” “organizational skills,” and “communication skills.” Ask yourself what activities or hobbies support or develop these skills.
Don’t forget to research the company and its culture. The employer’s website and social media pages may provide insight into what they value and what type of candidate they’re looking for.
Select applicable hobbies and interests
Now that you have an idea of what your employer wants, you can start examining your relevant interests. Here’s a list of 10 hobbies your interviewer will find acceptable and appropriate:
- Traveling (if it isn’t frequent)
- Home decor
- Language Learning
- Playing piano
Some hobbies are always relevant, like yoga or exercising, while others may need some extra thought. For example, your employers love to hear that you like to volunteer, but how you give back matters more than the act itself. Who you donate to could also be seen as controversial. So, if you want to begin your HR career, its vital that you know how to make the right selection.
Identify your qualities and skills
After choosing from a list of hobbies, identify what skills or qualities you developed while performing these activities. For example, if you play the piano, you could state that you needed patience to get past the learning curve and organizational skills to plan for your next session.
Any hobby can be relevant to your position if you think hard enough. Cooking requires creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and adaptability, so focus on the qualities during the interview.
What if you Don’t Have Any Hobbies?
Although you may think you don’t have any hobbies, you likely do, but you may not consider these tasks as a “hobby.” A hobby is anything you do in your free time, even if it’s something you’re required to do, like cooking, building furniture, walking the dog, or editing videos.
Watching television or moving, pruning the garden (“gardening”), or writing in a calendar (“journaling”) are also hobbies. If you’re stuck, think about something you’re interested in or a task that brings you joy. Meditation and napping are still hobbies, even if you’re doing “nothing.”
How to include Hobbies on your resume
Hobbies are typically listed in a resume, CV, or cover letter, so it’s okay to add a special section about your “Hobbies and Interests.” You can list up to 5-7 hobbies, but don’t include something generic like “watching TV.” Instead, go into the type of show you like or what genres you prefer.
How to answer the “what are your hobbies?” Question
The “what are your hobbies?” question has to be answered in sections. You can’t simply state the hobby and expect the interview to work out the details. You must lead them to the answer.
Here’s how to structure your answer for the “what are your hobbies?” question:
- Identify one-three extracurricular activities. Keep it brief.
- Give an example of what you did for this hobby and what tasks you performed.
- Highlight the skills you need to perform these tasks.
- Relate these skills back to your employer (how this hobby helps the employer).
- Ask your employer if they enjoy said hobby or how they use said skills.
Remember that you’re also interviewing your employer at this stage, so make sure every question ends up in a back-and-forth. Make the interview a conversation, not an interrogation.
Example answers for the “what are your hobbies?” question
Here are a few examples of quality answers that showcase your abilities to your potential employer. Remember to ask your employer about their hobbies and community involvement.
Example 1: Working Out
“I’ve been working out since high school, enjoying hiking, and playing with my local softball team. I do this because I like to stay in shape, but I also love to coach my team. I encourage everyone to communicate clearly to keep players involved, engaged, and motivated.”
Example 2: Arts and Crafts
“I prefer to spend my leisure time writing poetry and painting. I love to explore artistic mediums that improve my creativity, but I also like to challenge myself. Through perseverance and online courses, I’ve learned how to draw portraits in a week and perfected my technique in a month. ”
Example 3: Traveling
“I love to travel, and I try to take a trip once a year. I remember my last trip to Miami was delayed, but I made my appointment on time because I rescheduled my rideshare and hotel check-in time. Traveling has taught me how to prepare and adapt to new situations.”
Example 4: Volunteering
“I volunteer at an animal shelter once a month. During my last shift, I was responsible for giving the proper food to our animals, which requires attention to detail, as most of our animals have special food and care requirements. I’m always happy to share my passion for animal care.”
Example 5: Dog Walking
“I really enjoy walking my dog, Buddy, and using that time to talk to new people and explore new places in my neighborhood. If I want to enjoy some “me-time,” I’ll throw on a DIY podcast and plan my next project. Either way, I get to spend time with Buddy while getting some exercise in.”
While discussing your hobbies with your employer seems pointless, it’s anything but. If you plan your answer ahead of time, you’ll craft an answer that shows you’re a good fit for the position. You’ll also confirm whether you’ll get along with your fellow co-workers and/or managers.
Like any other interview question, you need to relate your answer back to your employer. Use the examples in this article to formulate an incredible response that’ll impress your interviewer.