How to Answer the Interview Question: What Are You Passionate About?
Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s love of the high-flying trapeze and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s honey-making skills didn’t hold back their successes.
We’ve all got weird and wonderful passions that may not precisely correlate with our chosen profession or industry.
The ‘What are you passionate about?’ question is commonly deployed. Potential employers love using interviews to find out what makes people tick. Your interests and motivations can reveal a lot about you as a likely worker.
Let’s look at preparing yourself for the passionate question, so you ace the interview.
Why Do Employers Ask What You Are Passionate About?
Employers often ask this question to understand what drives you as an individual. The question can be asked in various ways:
“What motivates you?”
“What are your passions?”
“What sort of work do you love doing?”
The answer you give reveals much about your personality.
- Your motivations
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Professional and personal interests
- Your drive
This information allows employers to assess your suitability for the role, its tasks, and how you fit into their existing team. They can also understand how to motivate you at work. People with hobbies and passions are often considered well-rounded and have a general thirst for knowledge and self-improvement.
Pastimes often take time and practice, which enhance positive characteristics. Endurance athletes are probably determined and driven. Someone who voluntarily helps at a residential home is likely a great communicator with empathy and compassion. Whatever your passion, it brings upticks.
The area of your interests can help interviewers decide if you will dovetail seamlessly into their teams and the company values. In short, are you a “culture fit?”.
Why Do Companies Value People Who Fit Their Culture?
Personal connections between employees provide real team-building opportunities that companies love. A tight-knit team is an efficient one. A Monster Truck racing petrolhead may have all the necessary qualifications for a role. But they may not necessarily blend into a renewable energy firm’s team as smoothly as a cycling, recycling, organic gardener.
This so-called culture fit, however subconsciously applied, can be a dealbreaker for some candidates. Whatever your passion and the position you are applying for, you need to be seen as adding to the existing culture. That could be complementing the current members or bringing fresh and diverse perspectives.
How To Prepare an Answer to ‘What Are You Passionate About?'
There are four simple steps to ensure you are prepared for this question in an interview.
- Be sure to choose something about which you are genuinely passionate.
- Think about why you are so passionate about this interest, and be prepared to explain why.
- Compile a list of examples of how you have followed this passion.
- Consider how your passion and its skills relate to the job you want.
Let’s expand on the thinking behind each point.
1. Make Sure You Choose Something You Are Passionate About
Nothing is more evident than when someone speaks about their passions. Body language, speech intonations, and even the sparkle in your eyes change. Your passion doesn’t have to be world-changing. People love everything from cooking to exercise or reading.
What makes something interesting is a person’s excitement about the subject. Knitting may seem mundane to many, but there are thousands of successful conventions worldwide attended by enthusiastic crowds every year. Excitement and knowledge are fundamental to your choice.
2. Be Prepared To Explain Your Passion
Explaining your passion is a chance to showcase the drive and skills your interest has brought you. Ideally, these will be relevant to the position for which you are applying.
Our knitters are creative, have an eye for detail, can complete long and complex projects, and are good at solving problems when confronted with difficulties. They are self-motivated, can work alone or as part of a team, and follow instructions. These skills are valuable to many jobs.
3. Compile a List of Examples of How You Have Followed This Passion
Companies like to see progress in fields of expertise, and your passion is no different. Jobs can sometimes be repetitive, so fresh approaches and thinking help keep businesses innovative and moving forwards.
It would be easy to dismiss our knitters as people that make woollen garments. But perhaps they have made warm clothes for charities, showing compassion, empathy and generosity of spirit. Or helped out a community knitting demonstration, taught children at a school to knit, or designed a new pattern they shared with an online group.
These ideas show how our knitters took their passion and shared it with others, trying to better society while giving up their own time. Empathy and selflessness are excellent character traits.
Targets are a significant signpost, too. Someone may have joined the gym to lose weight and complete a 10k race within six months, showing the determination and ability to chase goals. A bird spotter may be recording numbers to stop a species from becoming extinct.
4. Consider How Your Passion and Skills Relate to the Job You Want
Our knitter is looking to join a data management firm, and their eye for detail and ability to follow exacting numbered patterns over extended periods are related. A poetry writer hoping to join an advertising agency can easily link their creativity to the company’s goals.
A weekend hockey team captain could make a great office manager; the list goes on.
How Can I Answer the Question: "What Are You Passionate About?"
Follow the advice above, and you’ll be confident answering any question about your passions. Be genuine, be excited, and be knowledgeable about the subject.
Explain why the skills your hobbies have given you are relative to the position you want and will help you bring more to the role and boost your new colleagues, too. Show why you fit the culture and add to it through your passions, be that the trapeze or making honey.