How to Answer “What Are Your Hobbies and Interests?” (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

What are your hobbies and interests? Seems like a strange question for an interview, right? After all, what do your hobbies and interest have to do with your career? Well, they can actually have a lot to do with it, depending on what they are.

So, are you ready to learn more about the wild world of interests and hobbies, including which interests and hobbies to put on a resume, discuss during an interview, and more? Great! Here’s what you need to know.

Hobbies, Interests, and Your Job Search

Alright, it might not seem like hobbies, interests, and your job search have a ton in common. The thing is, they can, particularly if you frame the situation the right way.

First, let’s take a moment and talk about what a hobby or interest even is. So, what are hobbies? Well, the definition from the folks at Merriam-Webster says, “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” While that might be a little nondescript, it’s nonetheless accurate.

As for interests, in this context, it usually references – according to Collins Dictionary – something “you want to learn or hear more about.” Again, a bit vague but apt. It is a subject or pursuit you enjoy, typically to the point that you willingly and enthusiastically spend personal time diving into it.

Alright, but how does all of this matter to a job search? Well, your hobbies might showcase your creativity, your ability to work as part of a team, or a specific skill that you acquired through non-traditional means. With interests, you can showcase a passion for a topic and a willingness to learn on your own. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Why does being able to showcase additional skills and traits matter? Well, no matter where you are in your career, they could help you separate yourself from the pack and land the job you have your eye on; that’s why.

Here’s something to consider; entry-level jobs were down 68 percent during the pandemic. That meant most recent grads were facing stiff competition for a limited number of openings. Couple that with skyrocketing unemployment, and finding any advantage could be a must.

Even seasoned professionals can benefit from looking beyond their traditional job-earned skills. Of companies that screen candidate social media accounts, 31 percent were specifically looking at whether the job seeker seemed well-rounded, including having a wide variety of interests. While that was social media-specific, it shows the potential value of showcasing knowledge and passions outside of your professional life.

Plus, the hobbies and interests you choose could demonstrate that you’re a great culture fit. Since many hiring managers take that into consideration, highlighting activities that align with the company’s mission, values, or vibe can work in your favor.

Ultimately, by highlighting the right hobbies or interests, you might be able to differentiate yourself from the pack. Yes, they are that powerful, but only when properly leveraged. And how do you do that? Don’t worry; we’ll get into that here in a moment.

List of Hobbies / List of Interests

Okay, before we dig into why hiring managers ask this question and how to tackle it properly, it’s helpful to see a list of hobbies and a list of interests that could potentially be relevant to your job search. That way, you can focus on the right areas when it comes time to prepare a response.

So, without any ado, here are those lists.

List of Hobbies

    • Volunteering
    • Writing
    • Painting
    • Music
    • Fitness
    • Team Sports
    • Hiking
    • Podcasting
    • Gardening
    • Cooking
    • Reading
    • Crafting
    • Coding
    • DIY
    • Puzzles

List of Interests

    • Travel
    • Technology
    • History
    • Art
    • Food
    • World Cultures
    • Foreign Languages

Why Does the Hiring Manager Ask This Question?

Generally speaking, the hiring manager asks you, “what are your hobbies” or “what are your interests” for a few reasons. One of the biggest is to see if you’re a well-rounded person.

Hobbies and interests suggest a full life that isn’t entirely dominated by your career. Plus, there’s a good chance you use them as a form of stress management, which may mean you’re better equipped to handle challenges that occur in all parts of your life.

Second, the hiring manager wants to know about your hobby or interests because you likely gained some transferable skills along the way. Both hard and soft skills can be earned through these kinds of activities and pursuits of knowledge, so the hiring manager is trying to figure out if you’ve picked any potentially valuable capabilities or understandings.

Finally, learning about your interests and hobbies lets the hiring manager assess your culture fit. For example, if a company values wellness, they may appreciate your dedication to fitness as it makes you look like a better match for the culture.

Ultimately, the hiring manager has to look at more than your technical capabilities to figure out if you’re right for the role. By asking about your hobbies and interests, that gets a bit easier.

Common Mistakes When Answering This Question

Alright, when it comes time to prep an answer to this interview question, it’s critical that you avoid certain mistakes. For example, lying about your hobbies or interests is a biggie. Why? Because, eventually, the truth will probably come out. Not only can dishonesty be a huge red flag, but it can also cost you the job.

Second, talking about hobbies or interests that aren’t professional isn’t a smart move. Similarly, anything related to taboo, controversial, or illegal undertakings shouldn’t come up on your resume or during your interview.

Additionally, avoiding specifics isn’t ideal. If you’re overly vague, it may come across as disingenuous. Ideally, you want to exude enthusiasm for what you do, and adding some details can help you do that.

On a final note, it’s also best to avoid hobby or interest overload. While mentioning a few is fine, even if they are usually good interests or hobbies to put on a resume, it’s better to limit yourself to no more than a handful, preferably just three or so.

Tips for Answering This Question

Now that you have some ideas about which hobbies and interests to put on a resume or talk about during an interview, let’s take a moment to discuss how to create a quality answer to the interview question. If you want to make sure your response is on point, here are some outstanding tips that can help.

Focus on Relevance

As with every part of your job search experience, when you’re choosing interests or hobbies for a resume or interview answer, relevance is the key. You should only discuss an activity or knowledge area that provides the hiring manager with some level of value.

Now, this doesn’t mean you’re stuck with only relevant hard skills. Soft skills are essential, too, along with culture fit. If one of your examples hits at least one of those areas in a way that matters to the hiring manager, you should be in good shape.

How do you figure out which hobbies and interests hit the mark? By doing some research. Review the position description to learn about must-have skills and traits. Take a deep dive into the company’s website to explore its mission and values. Head over to the company’s social media accounts to glean insights about its culture. Those are all great ways to find out more about what the hiring manager is trying to find, ensuring you include the best hobbies and interests to show you’re a match.

MIKE'S TIP: If you want to make sure that you’re viewed as a great match for the job, include one critical point in your answer to this interview question: how the hobby or interest connects to the position. As we mentioned above, relevance matters. However, even if the connection is clear to you, that doesn’t mean the hiring manager sees it. By stating it clearly, you ensure there isn’t any confusion there, making it easier to establish yourself as an exceptional fit for the job.

2. But Be Genuine

As mentioned above, being passionate about the hobby or interest is crucial. Don’t say that you love an activity or subject if you don’t just because you think it’ll help you get on the hiring manager’s good side. Instead, talk about something that really matters to you.

Enthusiasm is an important part of the equation. It’s better to say what your hobbies and interests are – and briefly explain why you adore them so much – in an authentic manner. That way, your answer feels real.

Plus, the hiring manager may only be concerned with whether you’re well-rounded, not whether the activity gave you a work-related skill. That means that the hobby or interest you discuss doesn’t matter as much as having one in the first place.

3. Be Concise

While you do want to add enough detail to showcase the relevance of the hobby or interest, as well as your passion for it, it’s still important to be concise. When we talk about stuff we adore, it’s easy to get carried away; that’s just a fact.

Create an answer that about three to five sentences long. That way, you can fit in a few details without digging too deep. Then, practice it so that you really have it down.

And, when your interview arrives, resist the urge to extrapolate. Keep your answer brief. If the hiring manager wants to know more, they’ll ask follow-up questions – giving you room to expand – so keep that in mind.

How to Answer the Interview Question “What Are Your Hobbies and Interests?”

When it comes time to answer the “what are your hobbies and interests?” you want to have a compelling response ready to share. How do you prep an answer that’s informative and engaging? Well, by using the Tailoring Method, of course.

With the Tailoring Method, it’s all about relevance and creating a great narrative. By using that approach, your responses will be meaningful in relation to the role, ensuring you can showcase your potential value as an employee.

So, what does it look like when you put the Tailoring Method, and the other tips above into action? Why don’t we show you? Here are the great examples of how to answer “what are your interests and hobbies,” with one showcasing a hard skill, one showcasing a soft skill, and one focused on culture fit.

1. Hard Skill

Usually, you’ll want to focus on a hard skill you learned through a hobby when the capability is relevant to the role, and you don’t have any on-the-job experience with it. It’s an approach that lets you highlight how you earned the capability, effectively covering what may otherwise look like a gap.

Here is an answer that focuses on hard skills.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When it comes to hobbies, photography is the most significant one in my life. Not only has it taught me a lot about composition, but it also created an opportunity to hone my photo editing skills. It is the photo editing aspect of this role that really caught my attention. Turning images into something spectacular is one of my passions, and I believe that my experience with my own photography has given me the necessary capabilities to thrive.”

2. Soft Skill

In most cases, soft skills are highly transferable. Plus, they can be crucial for success, giving you the ability to navigate complex situations at work with greater ease and work better with others, regardless of whether you always see eye-to-eye.

Here is a response to this interview question that concentrates on soft skills.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When it comes to interests and hobbies, I would have to say my volunteer work is the most important thing in my life in that regard. Every month, I spend time volunteering at my area foodbank. Not only has this given me the opportunity to support my community, but I’ve also learned valuable skills along the way. I’ve had opportunities to lead projects, connect with people in need, and become part of a dedicated team that shares common goals. The experience is invaluable, and I look forward to my time there greatly.”

3. Culture Fit

With a culture fit answer, you want to align how a hobby or interest connects to one of the companies values or workplace vibe. It’s all about showcasing how you’re on the same page and that you’d mesh quickly with the company’s culture.

Here is an answer to this critical interview question that addresses culture fit.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“One of my biggest hobbies and interests is meditation. I noticed in your company values that employee wellness is a priority. Through meditation, I find that I am better equipped to offer myself self-care. It also keeps me centered and focused, even during high-stress times. Your dedication to wellness is one of the reasons I applied to the position, as I feel the company’s values align with my own.”

Other Places Hobbies / Interests Are Important

Alright, so now you should have a solid idea about how to tackle the interview question. But what about interest and hobbies to put on a resume? Where do they go?

Well, one of the simplest things to do is to add a “Hobbies and Interests” section to your resume. If you go that route, you can list a few choice hobbies or interests in a spot that’s just for them.

Just make sure you do more than listing the activity by itself. Instead, include a few extra words that highlight why it’s relevant to the role, like the skills it helped you acquire, or at least give a bit of context.

However, your resume isn’t the only option. You can also discuss hobbies and interests in your cover letter. If you need a bit of extra space to showcase why a particular one is relevant, your cover letter could be the perfect spot for that.

Putting It All Together

In the end, hobbies and interests can come up during your job search. Use the tips above to make sure you showcase the right ones at the proper time, including during your interview, on your resume, and even in your cover letter. That way, they can help you come across as appropriately skilled, well-rounded, a great culture fit, and, ultimately, the best candidate for the job.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.