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Interview Question: What Are Your Interests and Hobbies?
Sarah Brodsky / JUNE 21 2021

Interviewers often ask job candidates about their hobbies and interests. This question is usually fun to answer, and it feels a lot fewer high-stakes than some other typical interview questions. At the same time, it can offer the interviewer useful information about your personality and potential fit with a company. 

You can prepare for this question by giving some thought to which hobbies or interests you’d like to talk about.

Plan to mention two or three hobbies

If you respond to the question with only one hobby, there’s a risk that the interviewer won’t be intrigued by the one you chose, and the answer might fall flat. Listing two or three hobbies give the interviewer some options for follow-up questions. Plus, part of the reason for discussing hobbies is to demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded individual. Bringing up a few distinct interests makes that point well.

If you have lots of interests, you should still try to limit your response to about three. Since hobbies aren’t the main focus of a job interview, there likely won’t be time to talk about more than a few. 

Don’t bring up controversial interests

Stick with family-friendly, non-controversial topics that aren’t likely to raise any red flags for the interviewer. To test whether one of your interests meets these criteria, imagine you’re sitting on an airplane chatting with the stranger in the seat next to you. If you mentioned this interest, is there a chance you’d provoke an argument or make the person feel uncomfortable? If so, it’s probably not the best subject to talk about in your interview.

Choose hobbies that are substantially different from your desired job

Your answer should show that you’re a multifaceted person who’s engaged in life apart from your job, so try to pick hobbies that aren’t too closely related to the position you’re applying for. If you’re interviewing for a sous chef role, for instance, it makes more sense to say your hobbies are backgammon, roller derby, and astronomy club rather than cooking, cake decorating, and wine tasting. Don’t worry–you’ll have lots of opportunities to bring up your culinary interests and expertise in response to other questions that are more focused on job skills.

Be ready to briefly explain any hobbies that aren’t well-known

If you have an interest that’s more esoteric, you may need to explain to the interviewer what it is. For example, not everyone knows how to play backgammon, and some people may not be aware that it’s a board game. 

Practice giving a one-minute explanation of what any unusual hobbies entail. You might say, “Backgammon is a strategy game where you roll dice to determine which moves you can make. The first person to move their pieces off the board wins the game.” You could also mention how it compares to more familiar games like checkers.

Emphasize the social aspects of your interests

Talking about the social side of your hobbies lets the interviewer know that you’re comfortable cooperating with others, which is very important in virtually every hospitality role. For example, you might discuss the camaraderie you feel during roller derby practice and how you and your teammates support each other in the rink. If you don’t play any team sports, you could talk about clubs, conferences, or informal meetups you’ve attended with other hobbyists. And if you’ve taken on any leadership roles, like serving as treasurer of your astronomy club or organizing the annual stargazing weekend trip, this is a good time to bring that up.

Highlight your participation in community service

Showcasing community service can make a great impression in an interview because it highlights qualities like compassion, helpfulness, and caring about others. If you’ve participated in service projects related to your hobbies, try to mention that. You might talk about how your roller derby team has played in charity matches to raise funds for cancer research, or how you’ve given virtual planetarium presentations to elementary schools through your astronomy club.

Share why you love your hobbies

Let the interviewer see your enthusiasm for your hobbies. While you won’t have time to speak in-depth about why you chose them, try to think about one thing that’s especially meaningful or that you really enjoy about a hobby and mention that when you give your answer. 

And keep in mind that it’s okay to relax, smile, and let your personality shine as you answer this question. After all, this is an opportunity to give the interviewer a fun glimpse of your life outside of work.