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What is Your Favorite Book?

Being a reader is a positive quality no matter what job you’re applying for, so be prepared to be asked about your favorite book in an interview. Reading regularly helps you obtain new knowledge and keeps your brain sharp, not to mention it contributes to lower stress levels and stronger critical thinking skills. 

In an effort to learn more about you and the types of media you consume, an interviewer might ask you about your reading habits. 

We’ll explain why this question is more than just an icebreaker and how to answer it to impress the hiring manager. 

Variations of this interview question

  • What is your favorite book and why?
  • What book would you recommend to me?
  • Tell me about a book you’ve read recently. 

Why do interviewers ask about your favorite book?

What you read can tell someone a lot about the type of person you are. Do you read for pleasure? To learn new things or challenge your own beliefs? Do you read fiction or nonfiction? Classic or contemporary?

While there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to your reading preferences, your response can differentiate you from other candidates and help an interviewer understand what interests you.

Also, an appreciation for quality writing can be a signal of someone who’s a good communicator. Clearly articulating your thoughts is a desirable characteristic for many roles.

What interviewers are looking for when they ask you to name your favorite book

Interviewers are not necessarily looking for you to name a book that’s related to your career. Most people don’t go home after work and then pick up a text that brings them right back into work mode; that’s not the point of the question.

Rather, they want to draw out your personality by hearing you talk about a subject that interests you, which is a good way to ascertain how you might fit into their team. So, it’s in your favor to choose a book you actually enjoyed instead of one you think will sound impressive.

They also want to see if you’re able to name a book. If you have a hard time coming up with an answer, it might be interpreted as a sign that you don’t devote time to expanding your knowledge through reading, which isn’t a favorable quality. 

How to answer, “What is your favorite book”

Come prepared with a few possible answers

This will allow you to tailor your response based on your assessment of the interviewer and the tone of your conversation. 

If things have been light and breezy, they might enjoy hearing about the novel with the fairy-tale ending from your favorite author. If the conversation has a more serious tone, you might be better off talking about the biography that helped you understand the skills that make a great leader.

Explain why you liked it

Maybe the book you’ve chosen taught you something new, drew you into an unforgettable story, or helped you see things in a new light. Again, it’s a good idea to prepare a few talking points and choose the ones that suit your conversation best.

How not to answer

Name a book you haven’t actually read

Getting caught in a lie, even a small one, will tank your chances of getting the job. While it’s possible a fib about your favorite book could slide by undetected, it’s also possible it could backfire massively if the interviewer knows the book well themself or probes you further on why you liked it. 

Sample answers to “What is your favorite book”

Example #1

“‘On Writing Well’ by William Zinsser completely changed my approach to writing. Not only is the book filled with great advice, but it’s written in the same approachable style it teaches. It made me a better communicator and I reference it for everything from writing emails to preparing sales pitches.”

Example #2

“One book I come back to again and again is ‘The Catcher In The Rye.’ I first read it in high school, but I have learned something new from it at different phases of my life, which I think is a quality of a great book.”

Asking about your favorite book gives an interviewer an additional data point to understand who you are as a person. It’s hard to go wrong if you pick a book you truly enjoyed and speak about it enthusiastically.