Sometimes the most innocent interview questions can catch us off guard. Hiring managers often ask, “what are your hobbies?” or “what do you like to do for fun outside of work?” You might be curious about the intention of these questions. Are they just trying to get to know you better? Or are they trying to read into your hobbies to see how you will fit with the company’s culture? Here are a few reasons why hiring managers ask about your hobbies in interviews.
It’s often an icebreaker question
Most of the time, asking about your hobbies is just an icebreaker question. In most situations, hiring managers will start with a few simple questions to get the interviewee talking and help them feel more relaxed during an otherwise tense setting. Asking about your hobbies is an easy way to help candidates open up and get them to speak more authentically throughout the interview. When the interviewee feels a little more relaxed, they are more likely to be themselves rather than put up a facade of what they think the hiring manager is looking for. So, if this question is brought up early on in your meeting, don’t read too much into it.
Shows what candidates are passionate about
Also, when hiring managers ask you about your hobbies in interviews, they may be trying to discover your passions. Sure, you can say your passions align with the company’s core values and mission statement. But do your hobbies back up these principles? Asking about your hobbies outside of work is an excellent way for hiring managers to get a better picture of the real you. It’s easy to put up a wall during an interview and show them what you think they want to hear. But a candidate divulging what they enjoy doing outside of work can provide better insight into what drives them and what they care about.
Hobbies can identify transferrable skills
When a hiring manager asks about your hobbies, they are sometimes trying to identify transferrable skills. Sure, you may have three years of experience in your field, but does your love of rock climbing or crocheting blankets have skills, such as leadership or attention to detail, that can translate to the job you are applying for? Basically, sharing your hobbies with hiring managers can help them understand how well-rounded you are as a person.
Additionally, these transferrable skills are even more significant for entry-level candidates with little to no real experience. If you are fresh out of school or made a career change during the pandemic, you may have little to no experience in this field or industry. However, understanding your hobbies and how you spend your free time can help the interviewers grasp what you can bring to the table, even if you don’t have direct experience.
When discussing your hobbies, be honest and provide examples
So, when you are asked this question in your interview, how do you tackle this question? First of all, have some appropriate hobbies at the top of your mind. Yes, we all like watching Netflix and hanging out with our friends. However, you must share hobbies that add value to your candidacy and reflect some of your skill sets. Think of hobbies that demonstrate drive, personal development, leadership qualities, and/or creativity. So whatever hobby you decide to share during your interview, be ready to provide examples and express why you enjoy that hobby. Explaining why you enjoy volunteering at your local food bank or cross-country skiing allows you to inject your personality during the hiring process and show off some of your soft skills that can be useful in this role.
Regardless of what hobby or activity you choose, do not lie about it. If you say you love playing chess and actually have no idea how to play, and you just want to look clever, you are in a world of trouble. Never lie about a hobby. The hiring manager may ask detailed questions about it, or coincidentally, share the same hobby. If you cannot intelligently discuss it, it won’t add value to your candidacy (and can hurt your chances if they suspect you are lying).
Are you looking for more job-search advice?
So, these are three reasons why hiring managers ask about hobbies during an interview. If you are looking for more job-search advice, take a look at our candidate resources! We have hundreds of helpful guides, articles, and tips to help you successfully land your next job.