An excellent answer to your interviewer's question of “What are your hobbies?” can put you on the top spot of the list of potential recruits. If you are a fresher facing your first interview, the pressure may be high when you need to talk about your personal interests. Especially when you are halfway through the interview, speaking about your interests outside the job may feel unrelated. But it is quite the contrary—the person interviewing you wants to understand how you spend your free time. Your answer may give your potential employer some insights into your psyche and working style.
Why does the recruiter ask “What are your hobbies?”
Before getting to the part about framing your response right, it would help if you know the intent behind the question. This interaction goes beyond making idle chitchat because you have captured the interviewer's attention and they want to learn more about you. The information you provide can help them assess whether you are a well-rounded individual and can fit well in the team. The interviewer may want to sort you into one of the following categories:
1. Creative thinker
There are two types of mental processes: creative and cerebral. If you like to solve Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, or play chess, it indicates you have good reasoning skills. Or, you may be a problem-solver who uses meticulous calculations. Cooking and painting can demonstrate your creative side.
2. Team player
When asked, “what are your hobbies?” if your reply is along the lines of gardening, writing, and other solo activities, it shows that you may prefer to work alone. Your inner motivation drives you, and hence, you may be a better fit for positions that require independent thinking.
In contrast, if you are applying for a job that involves collaboration, you can impress the employer if your hobbies include team effort. Good examples for this kind of answer would be contact sports, event management and volunteer activities.
Jobs in departments like marketing or sales always carry some sort of risk. Employees need to be driven and fearless to take new routes. If your interests are hiking, kayaking, bungee jumping and similar adventurous activities, it hints that you like to delve into the unknown with passion and ambition.
However, there is no right or wrong reply when someone asks you what are your hobbies.
The risk-accepting traits mentioned above can seem detrimental when aiming for a job in healthcare or accounting. In such areas, attention to detail is important, and you should opt for a more conservative approach to do things.
So, you may need to tweak your response to align with the job responsibilities.
Planning an answer to the question about your hobbies
Here are some useful tips to describe your hobbies that can help you score the position:
Pick appropriate hobbies
Choose to speak about hobbies that can portray you in the right light. For instance, playing video games whenever you have free time can seem childish or irresponsible. But if you are a video game designer or app developer, that may seem relevant to the job.
Hence, make sure that when you explain what are your hobbies and interests in an interview, your response:
- Creates curiosity
- Evokes respect
- Feels genuine
- Seems appropriate
Relate to the company
You can also introduce your hobby while answering questions about yourself. Interviewers may ask you to open up about something that is not already on your resume. This is a good time to show them how serious you are about joining the company.
For example, you may touch upon the fact that you volunteered at a charity drive held by the organisation. Or, if you did something similar that aligns with the company's CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) culture, mention that.
Describe popular hobbies in a unique way
Here are the most popular answers candidates have for “What are your hobbies?”
- Watching films
- Listening to music
- Going to the gym
It is acceptable to have these common hobbies but find a new way t talk about them. Instead of mentioning them in a matter-of-fact manner, go further and describe how the activity makes you feel.
For instance, if you like theatre, talk about production values or set design. This kind of interaction can leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.
Showcase your people skills
The HR manager will look for distress signals or red flags that they can spot during the interview. Suppose, the interview is for a position in the customer service department. Then, it is more likely that the job will go to an outgoing person with good communication skills.
So, if you were the captain of a football team or had a brief stint as a coordinator at an institute, share this vital information. It shows that you are organised and possess leadership qualities. Your future employer may realise that, if hired, you can be an excellent team player with dependable people skills.
Hobby ideas worth mentioning in an interview
Most hobbies are safe to mention, but the key is to do it in a non-generic way. You can also lead the topic from what are your hobbies to the next question. But make sure that you adhere to the interview etiquette.
Instead of stating your hobby and just staring at the person across the table, add some details. Pique your interviewer's curiosity with a compelling anecdote or start with a never-heard-before back story.
For instance, let us say that you and another candidate attempting an interview have the same hobby, namely managing a terrace garden. The other person says that gardening makes them feel content that they grow their herbs or vegetables.
On the other hand, you can talk about how your grandfather taught you to sow seeds and plant saplings in the village. You can say a few words about how you would like to bring back traditional farming methods or promote organic produce. This section of the interview allows you some freedom to be creative and whimsical. So, your personality traits, values and motivational factors can be revealed here.
Things you should skip
You can score high if you avoid these answers altogether:
If you had some political affiliations in the past, it is better to refrain from bringing them up. The same goes for legal issues, gambling, partying, racing, etc.
In the above example, if the company manufacturers pesticides, modify your answer accordingly. By all means, stay away from mentioning non-toxic farming methods.
Having no answer ready for what are your hobbies may indicate that you do not like to make an effort. Hobbies do not always go by the same label, nor do they have to make you more knowledgeable or rich. Although you do not consider what you do outside of work as a hobby, be sure to mention your interests.
For instance, you can elaborate by saying, “They are more of habits really. I take long early morning walks with my dog around the neighbourhood and like to meditate in the park. Being in nature and seeing my pet explore new places fills my heart with happiness. And when I return home, I will be ready to start my workday with a boost of energy.”
Doing this will show that you are disciplined, committed and care about your health and your loved ones' wellbeing.
Example answers for what are your hobbies
Here are some sample answers to explain your hobbies to your future employer:
Example 1: Playing the bass guitar
“I started playing the bass at age 15. Earlier, I had enrolled in violin and guitar lessons and dabbled in them for almost two years. But when I first heard the timbre sound of the bass guitar, I got hooked. I feel that soft rock, blues, jazz and Bollywood flow expertly through the strings.
I occasionally play at local cafés, open mics and family functions. Apart from that, I also try and compose small pieces like jingles and backgrounds for slam poetry events. In my free time, I focus on software like Audacity.”
Example 2: Giving utmost importance to fitness
"I am a firm believer in the saying "If you lose health, you lose everything." Maintaining your body fit and in good shape is a great way to ensure that your mind stays active and alert. I have a gym set up at my home, where I spend almost an hour every morning. This habit also lets me enjoy the sunrise and take in the unpolluted Vitamin D my body needs.
I am in the last leg of my fitness trainer certification course. I am glad to know that the company has an in-house gym and promotes healthy living.”
Example 3: Capturing interesting images on a smartphone
“I used to believe that to take quality photos you need a professional camera worth lakhs of rupees. But nowadays we have mobile devices with high resolution. My hobby started when I uploaded my cousin's wedding pictures on my Facebook page.
The accolades I received made me realise that you need to see things differently. Even as an amateur photographer, I am very proud of my work that marked thousands of downloads on stock image sites.”