“What are you passionate about?” may not be the toughest interview question you’ll ever be asked, but it’s probably a top contender for most awkward. While the question itself is pretty straightforward, it can feel uncomfortable to share your personal interests with a complete stranger.
You might also ask yourself, “What does my passion have to do with this job?” If you’re applying for a position as an accountant, it hardly seems like the time to reveal that you’re an avid knitter. And what if you can’t think of anything you’re passionate about? Will the interviewer write you off as someone who will lack the interest and drive to complete their daily job duties?
If an interviewer asks you this question, chances are the reason behind it is simple: They want to get to know you better, says Muse career coach Al Dea. Hiring managers often want to know what excites you even if it’s not job-related, and also get a glimpse of what your life is like outside of work .
“It’s a simple way of truly getting to know a candidate, not just about their professional background, but on a personal level as well,” Dea says. “Given that people spend a good amount of their lives at work, it’s very sensible to have this insight about a potential colleague.”
While you shouldn’t stress over discussing the things you’re passionate about with an employer, it’s a good idea to approach your answer in a way that shows off your strengths as a candidate. It’s also important to be honest.
“The key to answering this question is to first and foremost be genuine and real,” Dea explains. The last thing you want to do is give an answer you don’t really mean just because you think that’s what the interviewer wants to hear. It will come off as inauthentic and only hurt your chances of being hired.
Here are a few ways you can answer, depending on what you’re passionate about and just how relevant it is to the job you want.
1. When Your Passion Is Directly Related to Work
Maybe you’re a software engineer who spends all of your spare time working on a coding side project. Or you’re applying for a content strategist role and also run your own personal blog. This is the easiest scenario to be in, since you can draw a direct line between what you love to do outside of work and the actual job duties.
Your answer might sound something like this:
“This probably isn't surprising coming from an engineer, but I love experimenting with code. For example, when I started playing World of Warcraft, I really hated the interface, so I wanted to try to write my own. I had to teach myself a new coding language, Lua, and seek out communities that supported that language, and communities of other people who were modding the same game. I really enjoyed the process of discovery and getting feedback from the community. It's exactly why I enjoy what I do all day as an engineer.”
Or in the case of the content strategist with the personal blog, you might say: