Why are they asking an interview question about hobbies?
Interviewers ask these questions to spark informal conversation and to get a sense of your personality, of what makes you tick. They want to know whether you’ll fit into their team culture. They’d also like to know that you have a life outside of work, which may make you a more well-adjusted person overall. So avoid saying “I don’t have any hobbies”!
Yes, your answers may influence how they see you. But if you try too hard to give the perfect answer or to show off work-related skills, you may miss an opportunity to have a moment of personal connection with the interviewer. It’s great if your leisure interests demonstrate relevant skills–for example, volunteering may involve communication skills, reading can be informative and build critical thinking, traveling develops cultural competence and problem-solving skills, and arts and crafts exercise your creativity. Just don’t belabor the point; let them draw those conclusions on their own.
Don’t fake an interest you don’t have. What if the interviewer turned out to be really into it and asked you a simple question you couldn’t answer?
Here are some examples of good hobbies/interests to mention:
- travel or restaurants
- sports, exercise, outdoor recreation
- technology–reading about it, being an early adopter, going to expos
- taking classes or learning new skills (give an example)
- projects of all kinds, such as home improvement
- reading or movies (talk about the genre or subject you love, and/or about one particular book or film)
- crafts, cooking, gardening
- listening to music
- creative arts—playing an instrument or singing, visual arts, crafts
- trying new things (give an example)
What interests are best not mentioned?
I recommend avoiding controversial subjects. Anything involving politics or religion could potentially be a big turnoff.
Also, think twice about mentioning activities involving your kids, unless the company provides products or services for children. Otherwise, talking about little ones might make the interviewer wonder whether you’ll have problems with the hours or workload. Perhaps I’m being a bit overcautious–use your own judgment and consider the culture of the company you’re interviewing with.
How long should your answer be?
Short. Aim for about half a minute, or a little longer if it turns into a conversation. You can help that along by ending your answer with a question. “It seems like you’re interested in racket sports yourself, yes? Which ones have you played?” Let the interviewer do most of the talking after that.
What should you say about your hobby?
You might tell why you like it, what benefits you get from it, what activities are involved, or your favorite items within the category. For example:
“I love reading, especially science fiction. I like the way it stretches my mind and gives me a chance to explore other worlds, to speculate about the future. I just finished reading a great novel called Recursion by Blake Crouch, in which a woman invents a technology to recover memories, but it ends up altering reality itself. It was really thought provoking and suspenseful. I also like science fiction movies, among others.”
“I’m a foodie. I like to support our local restaurants, especially since the pandemic has hurt so many of them. I also like to cook, although I don’t usually have time for elaborate recipes. One thing I do is buy interesting spice blends, like Greek seasoning or Herbs de Provence, so I can quickly turn a simple dish into something interesting. What about you – what kind of foods do you like?”
Another approach is to list several interests and see if any of them spark an interest.
“I like reading novels, going for walks with my two dogs and listening to music…Oh, you have dogs, too? What kind?”
Interviewing can be nerve-wracking. So when you’re asked a “what do you do for fun” interview question, enjoy a moment of relatively relaxed conversation. It can help your interviewer feel comfortable with you–and help you get the job.