How to Answer 'What Do You Do in Your Spare Time?'

man shaking hands at job interview

One question interviewee’s dread is, “What do you do in your spare time?” There is no right or wrong answer to the question. But, the answer you give reflects on your character and influences the interviewer’s opinion of you. The question is an opportunity to give interviewers a sneak peek into your personal life. The answer can cost or land you the job.

See Also: How to Answer "Describe Your Work Style"

1. Talk about your friends

Speak about your social life and include interesting activities you do with friends, for example, camping. It shows your interviewer that you have social skills and a life beyond your career. It also confirms that you build and maintain healthy relationships. But, avoid details of crazy things you do with friends such as drinking or smoking, this may portray you as too wild.

2. Tell the truth

Give an honest response; for example, do not talk about an activity you do not know fully. The interviewers may probe more, and if you hesitate or fumble, they may question your integrity. Talk about activities you enjoy; the interviewers can easily identify the excitement and passion you have for these activities. Your hobbies may also land you more responsibilities if you get the job, for example, if you have an interest in children; they may ask you to oversee a CSR project that involves children.

3. Do not talk about work

This is the one opportunity you have to speak about something else other than your professional life. Do not deviate back to speak about your career; it may come off as avoidance. Highlight interesting aspects of your none professional life that may interest the interviewers or boost your skills at work.

4. Avoid partying and social media

Everybody loves to get loose once in a while, and social media is an integral part of life. However, interviewers do not need to know the amount of time you spend online or your record breaking party skills. Keep this information private. Although both are acceptable hobbies, they may reflect poorly in a professional setting.

5. Volunteering and community service

Do you have any experience in community service or as a volunteer? Speak about it and present any certificates you may have for your work. Your interviewers get the impression that you are a caring and compassionate individual, an added advantage in the work environment.

6. Do not say much

Do not talk too much about your hobbies. Give detailed information in the shortest time possible. For example, if you enjoy watching television, speak about your favourite genres in brief and leave the interviewer to probe more if necessary. Talking too much may lead the interviewer to lose concentration especially if they do not understand your hobby.

Your response is an opportunity to shine and let interviewers into your private life. Keep it brief and interesting. Do not answer the question to look good; rather, give an honest and precise response. If you can, limit your answers to details that may contribute directly to the job in question.

Hopefully these interview tips will help get you prepared. Let us know…


This article was originally published in December 2014