Be ready to answer common interview questions that focus on your personal rather than professional life. One of these questions is "What are your outside interests?" This question could also be phrased as "What are your hobbies?" or "What do you like to do in your free time?" One reason why hiring managers ask this is to learn a bit about who you are as an individual when you are away from the office. This is also an opportunity for the interviewer to see if your hobbies line up with the ideals of the position- so you could use this question as a chance to further tip the scales over to your favor.
This question is a chance to show something about who you are. Feel free to have fun with your answer- but remember that you are still in an interview. All interview questions should be viewed as an opportunity to sell yourself as an employee.
How to Answer the 'What Are Your Outside Interests?' Interview Question
Relate Your Hobbies to the Job: You never want to lie about having a hobby you do not actually enjoy- but you should be able to find a way to discuss your hobby in a way that is related to the position you want to get. For instance- if the job requires a lot of teamwork and you play recreational basketball at a local gym- then you should mention how you enjoy working as part of a team and contributing to the overall success of the group. If the job you are interviewing for is a more creative- then discuss how you enjoy writing- filmmaking or cooking if they are relevant.
Talk About What You Have Learned From Your Hobbies: While it is perfectly fine to do something just because you think it is fun- think about what- if anything- you have learned that would come in handy for this position. Perhaps your last job did not entail any real leadership experience- but you are the captain of a rec football league. Even though you do not have any professional leadership experience- you could mention that to show that you are skilled in that area to an extent. Discussing your hobbies can be just as beneficial to being offered the job as discussing your work-related experience for other interview questions.
Avoid Talking About Unprofessional or Generic Hobbies: You should avoid talking about anything that could reflect negatively on you as a job candidate when answering "What are your outside interests?" For instance- even if you like going out clubbing four nights a week- that is the kind of thing you should probably avoid mentioning. You also do not need to talk about hobbies that are a little too generic- such as listening to music. Everyone likes listening to music- so it does not add anything to you as a potential employee. However- if you play in a band and perform shows every so often- that could be a fun thing to mention. Another boring response you do not want to make is saying- "I do not have any hobbies-" because that cannot possibly be true. Conversely- do not mention an excessive list of hobbies. Stick with one or a couple activities you are passionate about and discuss them briefly.
Sample 'What Are Your Outside Interests' Interview Answers
1. I like to stay fit by participating in a local football league. We meet up for practice one night a week- and then we have biweekly games where we play against another team. Its great to work as part of a team- and whether we win or lose everyone always ends up having a good time. I also like volunteering at a local animal shelter every Sunday afternoon. It is truly rewarding to work with the various dogs and cats that come in and make sure they have all the care they require. I have organized numerous events to get the animals adopted by advertising in the local newspaper and working with local businesses to get the word out.
2. One of my favorite things to do is to cook. I love learning new recipes and cooking them for the family- and a few times a month I will go to the local homeless shelter to cook meals for everyone there. Another fun pastime is tending my garden. I have a pretty wide array of flowers and trees that I am incredibly proud of. I planted a pomegranate tree a few months back- and it just started to grow. Now my kitchen is filled with delicious- ripe pomegranates!
You are more than just the job you have- so feel free to express your passion for the other aspects of your life. Phrasing your response to "What are your outside interests?" in just the right way will help tremendously in showcasing what skills you have to offer.