In an interview, hiring managers aren’t just looking to see if you can do a job; they’re curious about your personality, too.
So they may ask an interview question about how you spend your free time and what you like to do.
When the interviewer asks, “What do you do for fun?” or, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” you should generally be honest, but there are some bad answers and mistakes to avoid.
So in this article, I’m going to share:
You may be wondering, “Why do employers care how you spend time outside of work?”
There are a few key reasons that a hiring manager or other interviewer will ask about your hobbies, interests, and life outside of work.
First, they may be asking this type of question to determine if you’re a good cultural fit for the company.
You can expect at least a few interview questions designed to see if you’ll fit the existing team and culture.
So know your audience when answering and try to read about the company culture and current team before your interview.
There are also two more reasons employers might be asking a question like, “What do you like to do for fun?”
First, the interviewer may simply be trying to create some small talk and ask a question that’s less demanding and difficult. Sometimes, this is why they’ll ask, “What can you tell me about yourself?” and, “Can you walk me through your resume?” too.
And the final reason employers ask what you like to do for fun or what you do in your free time: They simply want to get to know you as a person.
This is especially true if you’re interviewing directly with the hiring manager, e.g. the person you’ll be reporting to if you’re hired.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time together each day and it’s natural for them to want to know more than your work-related skills. At least, if they’re a good manager who cares about their team, it’s normal for them to seem interested in your hobbies and other skills.
So in most cases, there isn’t a hidden or secret reason that you’re being asked this question in the interview, but you should try to sound honest and also keep your audience in mind… in terms of the interviewer’s personality and also the work environment and company culture of the employer you’re interviewing at.
When asked what you like to do outside of work, or what you do in your spare time, come up with two to three interests. They could be related or unrelated. Then, when talking in the interview about what you do for fun, you can quickly name these interests and mention why you enjoy them.
You could also mention how you got started with a certain hobby if you find that relevant to share. You’ll see this in some of the full example answers below.
And don’t worry if your answer isn’t particularly exciting/interesting in general; if these interests are exciting to you, that’s all that matters.
By talking about hobbies or skills you truly enjoy and find interesting, the interviewer will be able to see and appreciate that you’re being genuine and that you have passions outside of work. Hiring managers like to see that someone is well-rounded and has interests aside from coming to work each day.
Of course, if you really enjoy a skill or hobby that’s related to the job you’re interviewing for, then you should absolutely mention that in the interview. For example, if you’re applying for a position at Adidas, it’s a great idea to mention that you enjoy playing sports (and then name your two or three favorites).
If you’re applying for a job at a publishing company, you could begin your answer by talking about how you spend some of your free time reading novels or other types of publications.
But I recommend not saying anything that’s untrue when you answer. This will just put you at risk of being asked follow-up questions and having to lie more. And this can cost you the job offer on a question that’s not designed to be difficult.
Imagine you walk into the office of the interviewer and spot a few tennis trophies on their desk. Now, if you used to play tennis or you still do, then you could mention this. You could bring it up right away, or wait to see if they ask what you like to do for fun and then include this in your answer.
The more you can build relationships in your interviews, by getting to know the other person, sharing a few details about yourself, and identifying any common experiences or interests, the more memorable you’ll be.
These are far from the only hobbies and interests you can name in your answer. The above list is just intended to give you a range of ideas to help you brainstorm a couple of ideas to talk about in your answer.
While none of these answers below are particularly bad, I recommend you avoid saying that you find the following enjoyable just to play it 100% safe.
You never know what preferences/judgments your interviewer has, so you’ll be safer avoiding the following topics in your answer…
Below, you’ll find seven sample answers for the question of what you like to do for fun. Note that while the first example mentions being interested in your work and career, there’s no need to mention that if it’s not true. And you’ll see plenty of examples below that have no mention of work/career whatsoever.
Believe it or not, I love working in <type of job>. But outside of work, I also enjoy playing acoustic guitar, mountain biking, and listening to music.
I do a couple of different sports for fun, including basketball and hiking. I also enjoying cooking, so one thing that I do for fun and in my spare time is to learn and try new recipes.
In my spare time, I volunteer at a couple of local non-profit organizations, primarily <organization name>. I enjoy giving back to the local community since I grew up here, so that’s something I’ve done for years. I also enjoy watercolor painting.
In my spare time, I enjoy writing and reading, mostly fiction. That’s one reason why I’m applying to publishing companies like yours. I think it’d be exciting to work in an industry that’s closely related to what I enjoy — reading and writing. I also like to study foreign languages, so that’s one other hobby that I spend a significant amount of time on.
I have two main hobbies: collecting coins and archery. My father got me into collecting coins from the places we traveled when I was a child and I’ve kept up the hobby since. And I enjoy the outdoors, so I’ve found archery to be a great way to stay healthy and get to spend more time outside. I also watch archery competitions. I know it’s not the most popular sport but it’s a fascinating skill to watch.
I enjoy board games and puzzles. Scrabble is one of my favorites to play with friends, and I even play online at times. I also like word search puzzles and crossword puzzles.
I keep a couple of large saltwater fish tanks with a variety of fish at my home, and that occupies a good amount of my time on weekends and is something I enjoy. I also like to volunteer at a local organization that helps inner-city children get involved in positive and safe activities after school. It’s called <organization name>.
When the interviewer asks what you do for fun, name two to three hobbies that you enjoy in your personal life.
Aim to share areas that you’re truly interested in because you may face follow-up interview questions, and you may discover that the hiring manager shares similar interests and wants to talk about them.
For example, if you say you enjoy watching movies, they may say they’re a big movie fan and start asking you about your favorite genres.
This type of conversation can create great relationships with hiring managers, but only if you tell the truth in your initial answer.
As long as you’re truthful and able to provide a couple of hobbies you enjoy, you’ll pass this interview question. And if you use the list of example hobbies and interests from earlier in the article, then you’ll have an easier time creating a good answer.
Other common interview questions:
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions and answers. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.