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What Are Your Interests?: Why It Is Asked & How To Answer [With Sample Answers]

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We’ve all been there, somebody asks us what’s our full name or our age, and for some reason we delay in our response, or even stutter.

It’s information we know by memory, but in some cases, we forget.

Some of the most common interview questions have questions like those and can stop us on our tracks.

You don’t have to worry about it though, given this is something a lot of people go through, the solution is readily available.

When interviewers ask, “what are your interests?,” it can stump many candidates.

Fortunately, we have all the tips to help you answer this question in the best way possible.

Why Do Interviewers Ask, “What Are Your Interests?”?

Interviewers ask, “what are your interests?” to get a better sense of who the candidate is, not only as a potential employee but also as a person.

This question helps determine whether the candidate is the right fit in terms of the company’s culture or the specific team they’ll be working on.

For example, if the candidate is interested in hiking, reading, and sport fishing, and the team they’d be on likes to go on weekend hiking trips, this shared interest might add value to the team.

What Is the Interviewer Looking For?

When asking, “what are your interests?” the interviewer isn’t expecting you to share a very lengthy list of hobbies. Instead, they are looking for the few hobbies and interests you are passionate about.

The answer to this question helps interviewers get a sense of a few things, including but not limited to:

  • How the candidate likes to spend their time
  • Whether the candidate would get along with others at the company
  • Whether the interviewer has any shared interests with the candidate
  • Whether there are any correlated skills between the candidate’s interests and the role
  • How confident the candidate is when sharing what their personal enjoyments
  • The candidate’s sense of self and individuality
  • How easy it is to have a casual, friendly conversation with the candidate

Ultimately, the interviewer expects the candidate to provide an honest, charismatic, confident, and concise answer that encapsulates what the candidate enjoys doing outside of work.

The answer, in turn, provides a more holistic way of assessing the candidate’s fit.

How to Answer “What Are Your Interests?”

If you feel like you don’t have a lot of unique, “impressive” interests or on the contrary, you have many interests to choose from but don’t know which ones are the most “optimal” to say in an interview setting, this question might feel overwhelming.

It’s always advisable to research the role as much as possible before the interview. With this in mind, you choose the hobbies and interests that more closely match the position you’re interested in.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

The ideal way to answer this question is to be authentic, which means choosing the interests that stand out and bring you joy.

It’s also helpful to share why you enjoy those activities or interests, just as you would if a new friend asked you the same question. This will help the interviewer identify connections between your interests and skills.

Since an interviewer is looking to determine whether you’d be a good fit for the team and gauge your personality by how you respond to this question, it’s best for both you and the interviewer to provide a genuine answer.

If you don’t provide authentic answers, you may end up on a team or in a role that’s not entirely suitable for you, which might be disappointing in the long run.

In a nutshell:

  • Choose real interests.
  • Explain why you are interested in your selections.
  • Connect the interests back to hard and soft skills you can use on the job.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

When answering an interview question about your interests, it’s imperative not to fabricate them just to try and seem impressive.

For example, If you don’t like reading that much, avoid saying that’s something you’re interested in because the interviewer might follow up with “what are you currently reading?” – and you’ll have to make something up on the spot, which will be obvious and awkward.

This follow-up question is possible for any answer you give, so it’s important to stick with what you’re truly interested in and know well.

That way, you won’t have any issue continuing the conversation in an authentic, charismatic manner.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to potentially create a genuine connection with the interviewer, which is a significant benefit that can help you stand out among other candidates.

Finally, it’s crucial to not state any interests that the interviewer might consider inappropriate, crude, or distasteful.

In a nutshell:

  • Don’t fabricate your interests to try to impress them.
  • Don’t hesitate to have a friendly conversation if there’s a connection.
  • Don’t mention taboo interests that the interview might deem inappropriate.

Examples: How to Answer “What Are Your Interests?”

If you’re still on the fence on how to respond about your interests, reading the following examples beforehand will surely help in your preparation.

These answers will help you focus on how to categorize your interests, and how long your answer should be.

They will also help the interviewers in determining how well they know you after the interview.

Example Answer 1

I have a wide variety of interests, but the top ones that come to mind include golfing and traveling.

Golfing is a sport I’ve played since I was a kid, and I love being able to challenge myself with each hole while having fun conversations with the other golfers on the course.

I also am a huge fan of traveling, as it’s a great way to understand other cultures and ways of living. Part of my interest in this role stems from the fact that there’s lots of travel involved!

Why This Answer Works

This answer acknowledges that the candidate has other interests but focuses on two main ones to remain concise and specific.

It also explains why the candidate loves golfing and emphasizes that the candidate is both competitive and social – two traits that might be helpful for something akin to a sales or a marketing job.

Further, the interviewer connects the second interest back to the job description.

Example Answer 2

I enjoy painting, singing, and hanging out with friends. But in the last year, I’ve gotten extremely interested in reading self-help books for personal growth.

In particular, I like the ones that bridge the gap between research-based ideas with spiritual practices, such as “The Body Keeps the Score” by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Dr. Brene Brown, and “The Source” by Dr. Tara Swart.

These books help me grow immensely and prompt me to make conscious decisions in my everyday life.

Why This Answer Works

This answer is set up for success by introducing a few general yet fun interests the candidate has before introducing an extremely common answer.

Then, instead of just saying “reading,” the candidate provides context “within the last year” to make it more personal and realistic.

Finally, the interviewee gives specific examples of books they’ve read and describes why they like reading this genre of books in a way that it provides quantifiable insight for the interviewer. It speaks a lot about the character of the person.

Example Answer 3

I’m a dancer in my free time and enjoy dancing with my troupe on weekends. We gather for practices once a week and work together on choreography and song choices.

Not only do I enjoy the dance aspect of it, as I’ve been dancing for over 13 years, but I also enjoy the collaborative process it inspires, as well as performing for the community on occasion.

Why This Answer Works

The interviewer can easily draw connections about what type of person this candidate is through this response.

They are creative, expressive, and confident enough to perform in front of others. They are also comfortable in group settings and work well on a team.

Finally, they are committed to their craft. They’ll stick with something for the long run when they like it.

Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking What Are Your Interests?

You’ve now read a few solid examples of how to answer the “what are your interests” interview question, but you might still need a bit of clarity.

Here are a few additional tips for impressing the interviewer while remaining authentic and confident.

  • Choose Your Passion: Choose interests you can demonstrate a true passion for, whether due to the number of years you’ve done it or any projects you participated in or even recognitions you received.
  • Be Humble: Although you might mention an award, don’t use your time to list all the awards you’ve received, as this might come off as arrogant or otherwise tacky.
  • Don’t Over-explain: Describe why you like your particular interests, but don’t over-explain. It’s easy to get carried away by talking about something you love, but you still want to keep your answer concise.
  • Select Only 2-3 Interests: Instead of listing as many interests as possible to seem “well-rounded,” share only two or three of the top contenders. This will be easier for the interviewer to remember.
  • Pick Unrelated Interests: If it’s important to demonstrate your well-roundedness, be sure to pick three unrelated interests, such as one sport, one art, and one unique activity.

Additional Questions To Be Aware Of

“What are your interests?” isn’t the only compelling question you might be asked in your next interview. Here are some additional questions you might also want to prepare for.

  • Why Should We Hire You?: This question assesses the candidate’s understanding of the role and their ability to explain how suitable they are for it.
  • Tell Me About Yourself: This general question is a great way for interviewers to open up the conversation and see what the candidate prioritizes sharing about themselves.
  • What Motivates You To Do a Good Job?: An interviewer might ask this question to determine how motivated the candidate is, thus, how likely they will be able to succeed in a tough role.
  • What Makes You Unique?: This question helps the interviewer gauge what makes them stand out from the other candidates.
  • What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?: This question is useful for understanding how candidates perceive themselves and whether their strengths will be a good fit (or their weakness a dealbreaker).

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are our answers to frequently asked questions on the topic of interviews.

What are common interests?

Common interests may refer to interests many share, such as reading, hanging out with friends, or playing sports.

Common interests may also refer to the interests that you and another person realize you share, regardless of how common it is for others.

What is personal interest in a resume?

In the Personal Interest section of a resume, feel free to list the things you’re interested in outside of work, such as hobbies, activities, or areas of study.

Wrapping Up

The question “what are your interests?” may seem intimidating at first.

Still, with the right attitude, pre-selected interests to mention, and a good level of confidence, it can quickly turn into the most fun interview question to answer!

Remember to be authentic and conversational, and you should have no issue answering this question.

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