During a job interview, a potential employer may want to understand what motivates you. They may ask questions related to your interests, motivations and passions. Understanding how to answer these questions can help you perform well in an interview. In this article, we discuss why employers ask 'What are you passionate about?', outline some considerations for answering this question, provide an example for how to answer it and give some tips on answering related questions.
Why employers ask 'What are you passionate about?'
With this interview question, employers may be looking for insight into some different areas about you, such as your motivations, your strengths and your personal or professional interests. Here are some considerations for why employers ask this question:
To understand your motivations
Part of an employer's job is to develop teams that work as efficiently as possible. To achieve that goal, they may want to know about what motivates each of the members of their team. By understanding these motivations, they can design personalised strategies that inspire their team members to do their best work. Knowing about a candidate's passions may also help them know whether those members can commit to a certain task, hobby or interest and if they are a well-rounded individual.
To learn about your strengths
An interviewer may also ask this question to evaluate your strengths. Since many people devote time, effort and patience to develop skills that support their hobbies and interests, knowing your passions may help an interviewer learn about your strengths. For example, if you are passionate about tutoring kids in your community, an employer may gather that you have skills in:
- Working with children
- Community involvement
To recognise your values
Finally, employers may ask this question to determine whether the values of your personal and professional interests align. For example, a healthcare provider that values service excellence may prefer a candidate who has passions that show empathy and compassion.
How to answer 'What are you passionate about?'
Here are the steps to help you successfully answer this common interview question:
1. Select an idea, activity, hobby or skill you're genuinely passionate about
The first step to answering this question is to choose one passion as your primary focus. Choosing one topic may help you focus your answer and respond with confidence. If you have trouble coming up with an answer, think about something you enjoy spending time on or look forward to doing. Your answer can be simple, such as talking about a sport you enjoy or an instrument you play. Make sure you can speak about the topic knowledgeably and with enthusiasm.
2. Explain what drives your passion for it
Next, explain why you feel passionate about your topic. This can be a general explanation, but relating your interest to the skills and experiences required for the position you are interviewing for may help you showcase your assets to the interviewer. For example, if you are passionate about playing the piano, you can talk about how your patience, hard work, dedication and perseverance helped you reach your current skill level. Since candidates can benefit from these soft skills in any industry, telling the interviewer about them may help you make a positive impression.
3. Provide examples of how you have pursued this passion
Be prepared to support your answer with specific examples about how you have pursued your passion. Examples help to illustrate your commitment to your passions and show that you actively pursue your interests. You can also mention any goals you may have set for yourself related to pursuing your passions.
For example, if you are passionate about creative writing, you might tell the interviewer about your writing habits. You might talk about having a word count goal that you try to meet every day or goals you have set for completing a certain number of short stories within a time frame.
4. Connect your passion to the job
Finally, make connections between your passion and the job for which you are applying. Being direct in relating how your skills, experiences, perspectives and attitudes toward your passion apply to your professional habits can help the interviewer understand your assets. For example, if you are applying for a nursing job and have a passion for baking, you can relate the two by talking about how important it is to follow precise instructions in both baking and nursing, and how baking for people is one way to show care and compassion for them.
5. Prepare to respond to follow-up questions
After answering the question, prepare to respond to any follow-up questions. Take time to prepare your response to this question and any common follow-up questions so you can feel confident in your answers. Some common questions the interviewer may ask about your passion include:
- How did you get involved with your passion?
- What motivates you to continue with your passion?
- Why is your passion important to you?
- How do you see your passion relating to your work?
- How has your passion shaped you?
Example answer for 'What are you passionate about?'
Here is an example to help you prepare an answer for this common interview question:
Example: 'I am a passionate musician. I play several instruments and regularly take part in charity events to raise money for autism awareness and research. Last year, I organised a fundraiser and got 35 musicians to participate. Together, we raised over $25,000 which we donated to autism research. I love using my passion for music to help my community, and I feel that my ability to use music to bring people together demonstrates my skills in leadership and organisation. I hope I can apply these skills to my position as an administrator in your company.'
Tips for answering interview questions about personal interests
Here are some tips to help you answer interview questions related to your personal hobbies, interests and values:
Be genuine and professional
When a hiring manager asks about your personal interests and values, it is important to be genuine with your answer. It helps the interviewer understand your perspective and determine whether your personal characteristics, qualities, values and interests align with those of their business. Being genuine can also help you speak with confidence on topics that you truly care about.
However, it is also important to keep your answer professional. For example, if you're passionate about video games, you might focus on how they challenge your problem-solving, teamwork and strategy skills to make it clear how your interest applies to your professionalism.
Provide specific details
When possible, be specific with your answers. Specificity may better demonstrate your interests than giving a general answer by showing what your interests mean to you. For example, if you have a passion for helping others, you can make this answer more specific by describing how you help others in your daily life.
You might talk about volunteer experiences or something you do to assist a family member. These examples show the interviewer the steps you take to put your interests and values into practice, which can demonstrate initiative and commitment.
Relate personal interests to professional habits
Although the interviewer may ask questions about what personally motivates you, it is important to put those things into a professional context. Not only does talking about your personal interests show your values, skills and experiences, but it also gives you an opportunity to show your ability to relate those assets to the job for which you are applying. You might relate your personal interests to the skills outlined in the job posting to show you understand the expectations of the role and can meet those standards.
Focus on skills
If you're having trouble connecting a personal interest to the workplace, think about what skills your interest requires. Even interests that may seem unrelated to your industry may have surprising applications when you think about what skills you need to practise them.
For example, if your favourite hobby is playing with your dog, you might relate this to your skills by talking about your compassion toward animals, your patience and dedication to training and your willingness to persevere through communication challenges because of your investment in your dog's success.
Prepare in advance and rehearse your answers
Make sure to prepare answers to these common questions before attending your interview. You might find it helpful to practise your answers with a friend or in front of a mirror. Taking time to prepare and practise can help you feel more confident in your answers so you can make a good impression on your interviewer.