Interview question: 'What are you passionate about?'

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 November 2022

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employers want to know what motivates potential job candidates both in and out of the workplace. Building on your education and professional experience, they might ask the question 'what are you passionate about?'. This question is a fantastic opportunity to convey exactly what's important in your life. In this article, we explain why employers ask this particular question and how you can go construct an impactful answer.

What does the question 'what are you passionate about?' mean?

To help you understand how to answer 'what are you passionate about?', it can be beneficial to define what 'passion' means in the context of an interview. Interviewers are trying to find out what kind of activities bring you joy and what topics you care about. While it can be tempting to answer the question with 'this job', that's not the response interviewers are looking for. Of course, recruiters are looking for employees who love their job, but this question is focused more on what excites you outside of the workplace.

Related: How to answer the question "What motivates you?" during an interview

Why do employers ask about your passions?

There are a few reasons employers want to know about the passions of their candidates. Understanding what you're passionate about can help employers to determine what might motivate you if you're offered the job. Being able to demonstrate a commitment to a particular hobby or enthusiasm shows that you're able to commit to developing particular skills that could also be beneficial in the workplace. The soft skills you've advanced in your free time could make you a stronger candidate.

If two candidates are equally qualified, finding out more about the applicants on a personal level can help interviewers determine who would be a better fit for the role. Understanding what you are passionate about allows employers to assess if you are a good cultural fit with values that align with those of the company. Organisations look for employees that share the same beliefs and attitudes as the business, but they also want well-rounded individuals with a positive work-life balance. Examples of other ways employers might ask this question include:

  • 'Do you have any hobbies or special interests?'

  • 'What motivates you?'

  • 'What do you enjoy doing outside of work?'

  • 'Are there any passions you pursue in your free time?'

  • 'What kind of work do you enjoy?'

Related: Interview question: 'What are your hobbies?'

How to answer 'what are you passionate about?'

Follow these steps to prepare an effective answer to questions about your passions:

1. Discuss something you're genuinely passionate about

Pick something that you're knowledgeable about and have a genuine interest in. The more sincere you are in your answer, the more an employer senses your genuine passion and excitement. To provide an authentic answer, try to select a hobby or activity that you take part in regularly. This could be anything from playing an instrument, taking part in a team sport or volunteering. You can also consider simple activities that you carry in your free time, such as trying out new recipes, reading or hiking.

In some cases, your passion may be a topic that you know or care a lot about, such as ancient history or climate change. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something you can talk confidently about. The interviewer may decide to ask a few follow-up questions surrounding your passion to gain a better understanding of why it interests you or how this interest began. To avoid being caught off guard, it's always better to prepare a truthful answer to this question.

Related: Guide: 15 good work qualities to help impress employers

2. Research the company and job role

Prior to any interview, it's a good idea to spend some time researching the company and highlighting any relevant skills within the job description that you can relate to your passion. Here are some suggestions of places you can start your research:

  • The company website: Look at the 'about us' page to learn more about the company's history, values and objectives.

  • News articles: Read any recent news articles or press releases from the organisation that may highlight key announcements or activities the company is involved in.

  • Social media: It's common for most businesses to now have their own social media pages where companies can share recent business updates or other news, such as involvement in a local charitable event.

  • Networking: Reach out to people within your network. Connecting with a current employee can provide you with more detailed insights into organisational activities and culture.

You might also want to read reviews about the company from both current and previous employees. This can give you an idea of what it's like to work at the company. Highlight any reviews that mention extra-curricular activities or programmes provided by the company that relate to your passion. For example, employees may mention the company has great gym facilities or that they provide excellent training opportunities to staff members. These are all key things to note before you begin preparing your answer.

Related: What are company reviews and why are they important?

3. Think about why you're passionate

Take some time to consider what aspects of your chosen activity, hobby or area of interest make you excited. Try to think about what skills they have helped you to develop and how the experience you have gained can be utilised for the job you're applying for. For example, if you're passionate about playing for your local football team, you can demonstrate great teamwork and organisational skills.

Where possible, give examples of ways you have pursued your passion. This is particularly important if your passion doesn't involve some kind of regular, organised activity. For example, if you're passionate about climate change, you can discuss any projects you're involved in or ways you've used your knowledge to help educate the wider community on waste reduction. This demonstrates a commitment to your passion and the self-motivation and dedication to pursue it.

Related: Extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation (and why it's important)

4. Relate your answer back to the job

Once you've finished describing your passion and how you pursue it, try to relate your answer back to the job. Close your answer by confidently stating why the skills and experiences you have gained while following your passion make you the best fit for the role.

Example: 'I feel that my passion for sculpting not only helps me to relax in the evenings, but it has also helped me to be more creative in other areas of my life. Some of my most creative workplace project ideas have come to me while I'm sculpting in my studio.'

You can then ask the interviewer a related question of your own about the job or company. This can help to convey a genuine enthusiasm to join their team. Think about the information you noted down during your company research and ask about something you are genuinely interested in.

Example: 'Along with my passion for cooking, I also love to bake all kinds of desserts. I noticed on your social media pages that you recently had a charity bake sale to raise money for vulnerable groups within the local community. I would like to know if this is a regular event and how I could get involved if I am offered the position.'

Related: Questions to ask at an interview

Example answer about passions

Here's an example answer to questions about your passions that you can use to help when drafting your own impactful answer:

'Outside of work, I am extremely passionate about helping to end child hunger. While I was growing up, my parents struggled financially and it was often hard to put food on the table. As an adult, I now do what I can to help children in families just like mine. I volunteer at my local food bank twice a month, and I really enjoy helping to organise the boxes, monitor the inventory, help source donations and spend time getting to know the people that rely on our service.

Giving back to my community gives me a great sense of satisfaction, and the skills and experience I have gained, I believe, make me a great candidate for the role. I noticed that last month, your organisation took part in a local 10k event for charity. Do you get involved with many charitable causes? I would love to find ways that I could get involved should I be selected for the position.'

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