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Why Hiring Managers Ask About Your Hobbies in Interviews

Why Hiring Managers Ask About Your Hobbies in Interviews

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.

Interview Question: What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

Interview Question: What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

What They Want To Know

While you may have touched on this when asked, “tell us a little about yourself,” there’s a good chance your interviewer will want to know more. When a hiring manager asks, “what do you like to do outside of work?” they want to get a glimpse of your personality. They are curious about who you are and if you’ll be a good fit for the rest of the team.

This is an opportunity to let your personality shine. Our advice is to be honest – with a caveat – keep it professional. There is no need to go above and beyond in vulnerability here. Avoid delving into politics, illegal activities, or anything else that could potentially be a red flag. A good rule of thumb here is if you find yourself wondering if it’s appropriate, it’s not. Instead, share your life-enriching passions. If you have a hobby that parallels your career, that’s great! If not, simply share something you enjoy. Here are just a few hobbies that are appropriate to mention during an interview:

  • Hiking
  • Spending time with family & friends
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Reading
  • Sports
  • Cooking
  • Volunteering

No matter what you choose – be sure it’s something you are actually passionate about! Chances are, your interviewer will ask you follow up questions. So, you don’t want to look like a deer caught in the headlights, unable to discuss your hobbies in-depth.

Example Answer for “What do you like to do outside of work?”

“I love listening to Podcasts. Every day I like to get outside and go for a walk with my dog, Thor, and tune into a great Podcast. I have always loved This American Life because I feel like I learn something new with each episode. Lately, I’ve also been putting my detective hat on and listening to a couple of true crime podcasts. It’s a great way to check out for a bit.”

Final Comments

This is a strong answer because it is honest, professional, and personal. Remember, this question is an opportunity to share your personality, after all! If you don’t have any hobbies that you’d want to mention during an interview – now is an excellent opportunity to pick one up.

Need Help Answering More Common Interview Questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Should You Include Hobbies On Your Resume?

Should You Include Hobbies On Your Resume?

Career Coach Sonal Bahl recently shared a controversial opinion: that you should absolutely include hobbies on your resume! While she was undoubtedly met with the expected backlash, such as “this is not Facebook,” there were also many people who were open to setting yourself apart by highlighting your passions. In fact, according to a LinkedIn poll, 45% of respondents think you should always include your hobbies on your resume, and 33% believe you should add them if they are relevant to the job. Our opinion? It depends!

When You Shouldn’t Include Hobbies On Your Resume

If you work in a straight-laced industry such as banking, law, or professional services, you want to exercise discretion. Typically, these industries will be looking for a more professional overview of your career. If you choose to include hobbies, keep them achievement-focused. Feature hobbies such as marathons, interest in languages, or business-related podcasts you follow.

When You Should Include Hobbies On Your Resume

If you are in a more sales-oriented or creative role, it can be extremely beneficial to highlight a few of your hobbies. Let your personality shine to set you apart from the competition. Choose something that speaks to your identity and how you will perform on the job. Sonal mentioned clients who included “enjoy baking. Probably bake the world’s most delicious brownie,” or “Absolutely devoted to my daily 10k run since 2006. Come rain, shine, or snow.” Those candidates both got called for interviews, and the hiring manager specifically mentioned the hobbies that they had included.

Things To Keep In Mind

Now, just because hiring managers are interested in hearing about your hobbies doesn’t mean you should include everything that interests you. Carefully select the hobbies you want to include. Do not list things that won’t add to your marketability like binge-watching Netflix, hanging out at clubs, or expert nap-taker. Also, be sure that the activities you include are things you’re actually passionate about! The purpose of adding hobbies to your resume is to stand out and establish a connection with the hiring manager. So, chances are that they will mention it during your interview with the expectation that you will speak thoughtfully on the topic.

In the end, it’s entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Don’t feel pressured to include hobbies on your resume if it doesn’t feel natural to you. And on the other side, make sure the hobbies you do list contribute to your professional persona.

Interested in more resume tips? Click here to get your resume up to par.