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What Are You Passionate About?

You’re in a job interview, covering all your bases, discussing your skills, and sharing your accomplishments. You think the interview is about to wrap up when the interviewer comes out of nowhere with a heavy hitter: ‘what are you passionate about?’ 

It can feel like a loaded question–not hobbies, not interests, but passions? We’ll explain what your interviewer is really looking for and show you how to answer this personal question.

Why do interviewers ask about your passions?

Good hiring managers look at the whole picture–not just the list of experience on your resume, but who you are as a person. Asking about your passions can help them get to know you better as an individual and understand how you’re different from other candidates. 

They’re also genuinely curious about what excites you. A strong company culture is one that’s made up of interesting, motivated people, and your pursuits outside of work can influence how you act at work. Your answer–not necessarily the specific passion you cite, but how you talk about it–will help them envision whether you’ll be a good fit on their team. 

What are interviewers looking for when they ask this question?

When an interviewer asks what you’re passionate about, please don’t mistake it as an assessment of your commitment to the job. They’re not looking for you to say that you love working overtime or that you spend your weekends poring over expense reports. 

Rather, they want to see that you’re committed to something outside of your career, be it animals, sports, volunteering, reading, you name it, since well-rounded individuals usually make for better teammates.

Your response when talking about something you love can tell an interviewer a lot about you, like your level of enthusiasm and the types of tasks you’re most naturally drawn to. All of this can inform what you might be like as an employee. 

How to answer the interview question ‘What are you passionate about?’

Share an actual passion

Name something you’re sincerely invested in, not something you think will make you look good. A keen interviewer will be able to tell the difference. It should be easy to give concrete examples of why this particular interest is important to you. 

Suppose you fake your way through an answer. In that case, you risk coming across as insincere–or worse, finding out your interviewer is actually an expert in whatever pursuit you named, in which case you’ll be digging yourself into a deeper hole. 

Pick something that demonstrates your commitment

A hiring manager is looking for employees who show initiative. Name a passion you’re actively involved with, not just something that interests you, to show the interviewer that you take action on the things that matter to you.

Show your enthusiasm

The passion you choose to discuss doesn’t need to be related to your field. It doesn’t even need to be something that’s popular with other people. It’s most important to choose something that gets you fired up so you can talk about it with sincere excitement. This will help a hiring manager picture you doing the job with enthusiasm.

How not to answer

Forcing a connection to the job

It will feel contrived if you try too hard to pick a passion related to the job (unless the two are naturally connected). As we discussed above, the intent behind this interview question is to get to know you, not to judge your level of obsession with your field. 

Share something NSFW

Stay away from hobbies that are ‘not safe for work’ and stick to those with a PG rating. 

Sample answers to ‘What are you passionate about?’

Example #1

“I’m passionate about raising money for Alzheimer’s research. My grandmother struggled with the disease for years, and it motivated me to do something to help other families. I participate in the Walk To End Alzheimer’s every year and served as the event’s chair of the marketing committee this year.”

Example #2

“I’m passionate about beekeeping. I became interested in it when I chaperoned my son’s field trip to an apiary, and now I have five hives of my own. It’s a little kooky, but I love it because taking care of bees is so different from anything else in my life. It’s a great way to disconnect.”

While an interview question about your passions can be intimidating, it should actually be one of the easiest to answer because you can speak from the heart. Try to mirror how you might talk about the same topic to a friend or family member and you’ll be right on target for what the interviewer is looking for.