How to answer the ‘what do you for fun’ question in an interview

Job hunting is stressful for recruiters and seekers alike so what’s the one question that will set candidates apart from the pile of potential employers? This soft-ball interview question is one of many commonly asked questions by recruiters that will shed light on the specific qualities found in a candidate deemed essential to operations for their business or brand.

“So tell me about some of your special interests and hobbies?”

Turns out the right answer to this common question could land you your dream job sooner than you think. Let’s take a look at this insightful query closer from the interviewer’s perspective.

What recruiters reveal about the importance of asking what potential employees do for fun

Forbes asked Miguel Quiroga, Head of Digital at Verizon Fios why he asks this particular question. He answers candidly,

“We’re a young and rapidly growing team within a huge company, so we think of ourselves as a ‘startup in the enterprise’ with the way we hire talent. This question gives us a chance to see how well the candidates’ passions align with their career goals, which is important when you’re developing the collaborative and winning culture found in startup type environments.”

Figuring out what your employees like to do for kicks on the weekend or downtime between work hours can unveil if this type of person will fit into the culture you’ve curated at your place of business. It can be far more detrimental to your business to quickly hire a guy who looks great on paper without knowing his strange hobby of collecting medieval swords that might make some peace-loving office mates uncomfortable.

For example, think about Dwight brandishing his various “collectors weaponry” in The Office and not so accidentally spraying a man in the face with illegal mace. Whether in the name of self-defense or not, while this particular hobby is less detrimental in a work from home environment, it’s much easier to vet out the weirdos with strange habits to avoid an HR nightmare or extremely uncomfortable slack message boards down the line.

Your hobbies reveal skills and traits useful to the open position

Another great reason recruiters should ask about special interests is that these skills you’ve happened to hone over the years can be useful “real-life training” or considered to be a demonstrated work history of useful applicable skills for the tasks you’ll eventually tackle in your new position. Great news, volunteering every weekend at a women’s shelter not only helped give back to the community of women in need of care and autonomy but it could also help give you that cutting edge that sets you apart from other candidates! In other words, a production company with an open SEO position with a call to build or strengthen a site for a non-profit organization with community outreach as a cornerstone in their mission statement would absolutely love to see sparkling community service involvement on a resume.

Well-known recruitment site, Indeed, reiterates the importance and reasoning behind the ‘passion projects’ question in an article published earlier this year,

“Understanding what you are passionate about or what motivates you might help employers decide whether you might be a good fit for the position. If you are passionate about helping people, for example, and are interviewing for a largely independent role with little interaction with others, the position might not be a good fit for you. To answer this question, think of broad ways you are motivated both in and out of work. Consider how your passions might align with the role.”

In that same article, Indeed also equips job hunters with an example answer what faced with this inquiry,

“I’m driven every day by the ability to create beautiful, innovative experiences for users all over the world. There is so much helpful, valuable digital information on the web. Designing it in a way that is easy for people to consume makes me feel like I’m truly making a difference for people to access whatever it is that helps them live to their true potential—even if only in a small way.”

This question also tends to allow the interviewee a moment to relax and speak freely about what they love and what matters most to them. This usually leads to an easier interview that allows recruiters and start-ups an opportunity to really glance behind the curtain to get the right fit to mitigate success, company growth, and camaraderie amongst co-workers. It’s easier to know what you’re working with when the person you’re interested in hiring feels comfortable about opening up.

What I learned

Atrium Staffing really drives the importance of highlighting your hobbies and special interests in your next interview here,

“The interviewer should be interested in the person you are outside of work. A candidate is not only interviewing for a skills match but for culture fit too. When candidates talk about things they enjoy, they tend to be more relaxed and show off their personality.”

They say if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. Align your hobbies and passions with your dream career today by preparing to launch into the things you love with your future employer on that next phone interview.

Check out the Ladders Resume Guide for more prescient information to secure that sought after position.