As the great Oprah Winfrey said, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
When you're interviewing for a job, you're thinking about that job — specifically, “Why are you a good fit?” and “Why should we hire you?” So, when the interviewer asks, “What are you passionate about?” it can seem a bit off track.
What does that have to do with the job?
While it might not necessarily tie in with the position (even though it definitely can), it does help them get to know you as a person. They want to know what gets your motor running and makes you excited. While this may not seem like an overly important question in comparison to others, don't overlook it. This is your time to shine.
Tips to delivering a great answer
Here are seven tips that will help you show your passion, and why your passions make you the perfect candidate for the job.
1. Be prepared
It may seem obvious, but you need to know what your passion is, or at least how you would answer this question. Think about it ahead of time and think beyond the short answer. Take some time beforehand (like the morning of your interview) to get your thoughts organized for this question.
2. Be authentic
Don't make something up just to impress the interviewer. Even if you think your real passion wouldn't be relevant to the company or the position, it's always better to be honest. Besides, what if you do get hired? Are you ready to pretend to be passionate about your made-up answer for the next few years? Don't go there.
3. Use common sense
While your passion doesn't have to be career-related, it does need to be workplace appropriate. What you do on your own time is your business, but if you wouldn't want your boss to see you doing it, you may not want to bring it up here. Use common sense and choose something more appropriate.
4. Add intrigue with details
When you are passionate about something, you dive in. You get into all of the little nuances. What would the average person not know about your passion? Provide some interesting details. They help show just how much you love what you're talking about and make it more interesting.
5. Don't apologize for your passion
You may think that the thing that gets you excited isn't interesting or impressive to someone else. It doesn't have to be. Don't apologize as if you are embarrassed by what you love. Embrace it and show them why you think it's so cool.
6. Highlight soft skills
Most hobbies or interests require you to use your soft skills to participate. Do you help organize volunteers for a charity? That requires time management and organizational skills. Love fishing? You have patience and a sharp eye. Soft skills are an easy way to help show why your passion is good for you — and for your employer.
7. Make the connection — subtly
While your answer to the “What are you passionate about?” question doesn't have to be work-related, if you can find a way to connect it without being obvious, go for it.
Here are a couple of samples for how someone can answer the “What are you passionate about?” question during their next interview:
Example #1: Interviewing for a restaurant manager position:
Outside of work, I am a dog person all the way! I have two Yorkies. We go to the dog park, and I even enter them in shows. It takes a lot of preparation, strict diets, and primping to get them ready for showtime. I want them to be at their best before the judges see them. I've learned that it's easiest to keep them in top form all the time instead of hard prepping for a big show. It's turned me into a bit of a perfectionist.
Notice that this answer doesn't say anything about the job. However, they do mention attention to preparation and detail and a desire to keep things in perfect form. Those would be great qualities for a restaurant manager.
Example #2: Interviewing for a sales position:
Believe it or not, I like to perform stand-up comedy. I used to think I'd pursue it as a career, but now I just really enjoy going to open mics. There's a lot more to it than most people think. You have to prepare your jokes and really practice. Then, once you're up on stage, you have to know how to read the crowd. If the crowd is looking at their watches, it's time to change things up. Kind of like a sales call. You have to make the right read.
This candidate does connect their passion for performing stand-up comedy to the sales position, but it's a natural segue. The interviewer already knows that this person has presentation skills and a working knowledge of body language. Put that together with a good sense of humor and you could have a great salesperson.
It's about you
Remember, this question is an opportunity for you to openly gush about something you love. If the interviewer is looking for you to pander to what they like or the job in question, they're missing the point. They asked about your passion, so share it with them and be proud of what you love because it's part of what makes you, well, you.
Not sure if your answers are really showcasing your best self? Work with an expert to make sure. Our TopInterview coaches are here to help!