Spent the whole week preparing for a job interview? Think you're ready to answer every question?
Some interviewers ask candidates the most unexpected questions. One of these includes, 'What is your favourite website?'
This creative interview question could take you by surprise if you're not prepared with an answer. Most interviewees will come up with something off the top of their heads and give a response that doesn't reflect professionalism or competence for the role. In a state of panic, they blurt out websites like Facebook or 9GAG, blowing their chances of getting the job.
To help you prepare for this question and avoid any disastrous scenarios, we have put together a guide with useful tips so you can nail your answer at the interview.
Why Interviewers Ask this Question
As irrelevant as this question sounds, it's actually quite the opposite. When employers ask, about your favourite website, they're trying to uncover an array of things about your personality and professionalism.
The websites you read can determine whether you'll fit into the company culture: Are you serious and eager to learn like the rest of the team? Do you like to stay updated on industry trends? Or are you a social media addict with no regard for the latest news?
Interviewers want to know:
What you do with your free time: Employers want to see how you spend your time outside of work and in what ways you like to develop your personal and professional goals. Saying your favourite website is Instagram or Tumblr might show that you like being entertained, but the interviewer may take it as a sign that you waste time on social media and aren't focused on more work-related sources instead.
What your passions are: Do you spend your time studying articles on WebMD, TechCrunch, or Mashable? If so, it shows that you're interested in things that will benefit your daily and professional life, far beyond what you'll learn by hitting up social media or spending hours watching funny videos on YouTube.
What you're willing to do to improve yourself: People who spend a lot of time on useful websites tend to work more on their self-improvement, both in their personal and professional lives. If you spend all of your time on TMZ or Deadline, you're not really showing that you’re interested in the kind of things that will help you get ahead in life – unless, of course, you're applying for a role in entertainment.
Whether you stay updated on trends: Interviewers want to know if your interest in the role extends beyond working hours. For example, if you're applying for a marketing role, they want to know if you read websites like Moz or Hubspot. As an avid reader of industry-related sites, you prove that you like to stay on top of trends and advance your professional knowledge.
Other ways your interviewer could pose this question include:
- What websites do you use during your free time?
- What websites do you like the most?
- Which websites do you visit most often?
How to Prepare a Response
No employer wants to hear that you like BeesBeesBees.com (yes, that's a legit website), nor do they care how much time you spend on dating sites.
Preparing for this interview question before the big day can help you provide an appropriate answer. Here are a few interview tips to avoid being mortified and hopefully land the job of your dreams...
1. Research the Company
To best prepare for this challenging question start by researching the company you're interviewing for. This will help you form a clear understanding of the company culture, operations, staff, and overall mission. You can then select a website that aligns with this information. If you discover that the firm has a team of suited and booted individuals, you're better off choosing a more serious and professional website. On the other hand, if the company’s social media page regularly publishes funny posts, it's safe to go with a site like Mental Floss as your favourite.
2. Research the Interviewer
A smart way to prepare for a job interview is by putting your detective skills in good use and researching your interviewers. Find them on LinkedIn or Facebook and try to nail down their personality. Do they have a sense of humour? Is their social activity always dead serious? You can base your website choice around the character of the interviewer. For instance, you don't want to select a website like BuzzFeed if you're being questioned by the James Bond of employers.
3. Jot Down a Few Websites
Once you have a better idea of the company culture and the person who will be interviewing you, write down some websites to use in your answer. Make sure to select the ones that are related to your job role. Prospective accountants might say The Economist, while teachers might say Scholastic, for example.
Mention informative and educational sites to show the interviewer that you are a hard worker and enjoy building your knowledge base. These are qualities that every employer values and uses to determine whether you will be a good cultural fit.
Depending on the company, you may want to give the impression that you're not all serious, and that you have a fun side, too. Name drop websites that offer entertainment, but also provide a lot of value in terms of professional and personal growth. For example, Upworthy has funny videos, but there are thousands of inspiring, motivational videos, as well. BuzzFeed has a lot of fun pages, but the site offers news, too. Your fun side can reveal the potential to get along with coworkers or add creativity into your work.
Once you have a few websites in mind, you need to make sure that you can support your choice. Be ready to describe how your chosen website boosts your personal growth or professional knowledge.
Examples of good websites include:
4. Avoid Interview Mistakes
Before stepping in front of that interviewing panel, make sure you're aware of any potential slipups. There are several mistakes you can make when answering this question. For instance, don't focus on social media. Twitter or Facebook are useful for interacting with others, but they don't represent who you are as a professional hoping to get hired. The safest action plan is to only mention social media if the job role entails it (e.g. a social media manager position).
While websites like YouTube are often used, avoid using this as an answer, unless you mention that you enjoy educational videos. Binging on funny clips all day isn't going to reflect the ideal candidate for a nurse's position, after all.
Finally, you don't want to highlight a website that you know nothing of. Select one that you genuinely use and know enough about to explain your reasoning.
To help you respond to this question in the best way possible, here are a few sample answers:
- My favourite website is BuzzFeed. I love to see the latest news in the world of technology, particularly the latest advancements made in computer science and robotics. I've been a computer geek for years, even though it's not my profession. It's fascinating to see where computers are going and how technology is evolving.
- While I enjoy the occasional fun video here and there, I spend a lot of time scrolling through sites like The Economist or Financial Times. I'm subscribed to their newsletters, too, so I'm always in touch with current events in the financial world.
- Moz is a favourite of mine. I'm always reading the latest news to catch up on SEO advancements as well as their blogs, so I can get a new viewpoint on any changes in the marketing landscape. Staying up to date with this site is what keeps my marketing craving intact. It's actually what encourages me to learn new SEO tactics.
- I'm a huge fan of TED Talks. This is where I gain a lot of inspiration and motivation. I find that it helps me push through any personal struggles and it gives me encouragement for my work life, too. There are also a few educational topics on there that enlighten me about business or science.
While it may not be the most common question to come up during your interview, it certainly isn't the hardest question to answer either. Revealing your favourite website during an interview can be pretty easy once you know which one to choose and have sound reasoning behind it.
Be honest about the sites you like, but make sure the answer paints you in a professional light and ultimately, indicates that you'll be the right candidate.
Have you ever been asked this question? Let us know how you tackled it in the comment section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article that was originally published on June 2014.