How To Answer “What Do You Do For Fun?” (With Examples)

Ryan Morris
By Ryan Morris
- Feb. 18, 2021
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“What do you do for fun?”

It’s one of the most common interview questions, and for some people, it’s an easy enough one to answer.

When you’re the sort of person who fills your time with rich and rewarding experiences that better you as a person, it’s easy to bring those up when someone asks.

But for people with less mainstream hobbies and interests, it can be a challenging question to answer.

We’ll cover why hiring managers and recruiters ask this question at a job interview, give tips for how to (and how not to) answer, and pull all our advice together with a few sample answers.

Why Interviewers Ask “What Do You Do for Fun?”

As with most interview questions, it’s important to understand exactly what hiring managers really want to know.

You see, while it’s definitely important for a hiring manager to know what your qualifications for the job are, they also have to work alongside you at the end of the day (if they decide to hire you).

In the event that this happens, they need to know how you’ll fit into the company culture, or even just if you’re a baseline interesting person to talk to.

All of this means that it’s important for your boss to figure out if you’re willing to hang out and develop relationships with strangers, or if you’re more likely to stay home and play obscure indie games on your VR console.

Here are some things the hiring manager or recruiter might be trying to figure out about you by asking this question:

  1. Good work-life balance. They want to know that you have a good sense of how to keep yourself from being overwhelmed with work stress without spending so much time on non-work activities that your productivity suffers.

  2. Things in common. Your boss is going to have to hang out with you all day, so they want to know there’s at least some non-work common ground they have with you.

  3. A good filter. There are a lot of perfectly reasonable hobbies or habits that are nonetheless inappropriate to bring up in a work setting, and your interviewer wants to know that you have the ability to censor yourself when necessary.

Tips For Answering “What Do You Do For Fun?”

Marty Nemko
Career advisor, blogger Psychology Today

Especially for jobs with a company that prioritizes getting the work done over work-life balance, you can say that you find some aspect of work particularly fun. For example, “I actually find work fun. For example, distilling the research into a concise article or two-minute presentation is, frankly more fun than my hobbies, for example, playing basketball or the video game Stardew Village.”

How to Answer “What Do You Do for Fun?”

Unlike some interview questions, you don’t really need to prepare a full answer to this question, and doing so might even work against you.

You’re looking for common ground with your interviewer or for a way to portray your unique interests in such a way that they’ll understand what you find valuable about your hobbies.

Here’s a four-step strategy for giving a winning answer to “what do you do for fun?”

  1. Name your hobby. Identify one or more hobbies that you actively participate in. If you’re really passionate about one hobby that indicates attractive job-related skills or qualities, stick with just one.

    But if you want to show how eclectic your tastes are, giving two or three things you do for fun can work well also.

  2. Focus on values. How you spend your free time reveals a lot about what you value in your life outside of work. It can also tie into skills or qualities that are helpful for the job you’re applying for.

    For example, if you spend time knitting, you can mention something about finding detail-oriented tasks meditative and relaxing.

  3. Tell a story. This isn’t a behavioral interview question, and you don’t really need the STAR method here. That said, you can tell a brief, interesting anecdote about one of your hobbies.

    If you can show how you’ve built skills through your hobby or that it directly ties to the company’s values (like volunteering, sustainability, etc.), you’ll have a much more robust answer.

  4. Talk about why you like it. Don’t just say you enjoy doing X, Y, and Z. Mention what your motivation for this hobby is and what you get out of it.

    Your intrinsic motivations reveal a lot about you as a person and potential coworker/subordinate, so your answer could be just what you need to seem like the perfect cultural fit.

Tips for answering what do you do for fun?

Stacie Garlieb
President, Successful Impressions LLC

To prepare for this question, it’s important to understand the company you are interviewing with. Is the company involved in any community based activities that align to your interests outside of work? For example, if the organization participates in volunteering and that is something you also do, you could answer “There are several things that I do for fun including volunteering for X organization. My experience doing that has allowed me to meet people, use my skills to help others, and contribute to our community. Does the company encourage wellness or work-life balance activities, and which of those could be things you like to do or would like to do? Many companies have programs for employees to exercise and maintain healthy lifestyles. If you have done your research and found out that they have these, you may include “I also like to exercise by doing Y at least three times a week. I have been doing that for Z years and it helps me feel better physically and I also enjoy challenging myself.”

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering “What Do You Do for Fun?”

You might think it’s pretty hard to mess up on this common interview question. You’re right — even if you don’t give a stellar answer, this is not a super important part of the job interview.

That said, a truly horrible answer will stick out in your interviewer’s mind and may cost you the job.

If you and another candidate have all the same skills and qualifications, but she’s just a more interesting person to talk to, the odds are that the hiring manager will hire her.

Avoid these common mistakes and you’ll be just fine:

  • Don’t say you have no hobbies at all. Even if this is mostly true, it’s not a good look, and there are a lot of ways that you can frame your interests to make them a little more accessible to those who are unfamiliar with them.

  • Don’t lie. Best case scenario is that you do get hired only to have it eventually revealed that you’re not actually that into skiing, making you the office liar.

    Worst-case scenario, the hiring manager is a former Olympic competitor and immediately discovers how little you actually know about it, ending the interview on the spot.

  • Don’t bring up anything illegal. Enough said. Also, this isn’t college, and your love of drinking and smoking does not qualify as a hobby.

  • Hanging out with friends. This is boring. Talk about what you and your friends actually do.

Tips for Answering “What Do You Do For Fun”

  • Start vague, then get progressively more specific. For example, try talking about how much you love video games in general and gauge the hiring manager’s interest before you start talking about your favorite Starcraft build orders.

  • Be passionate. When you start talking specifically about your hobbies, make sure that you’re showing how important they are to you. Speak with enthusiasm or the recruiter might doubt you have a genuine interest in what you’re talking about.

  • Bring up constructive hobbies. It’s okay to talk about some of the less “exciting” hobbies that you might have, like watching Netflix or going on long walks, but make sure that you balance these out by bringing up more positive hobbies as well.

  • As a last resort, bring up interests. If you have trouble coming up with these constructive hobbies, try talking about your interests, or hobbies you’ve either had in the past or would like to eventually have.

  • Answer the question directly. Don’t avoid the question, or talk about things you don’t like to do. The hiring manager will wonder why you’re trying to avoid answering the question and will assume the worst.

Example Answers to “What Do You Do For Fun?”

While we’re sure there are plenty more things people do for fun, these are some good hobbies to mention:

  • Outdoors activities like rock climbing, hiking, cycling, etc.

  • Reading, learning, documentaries, podcasts, etc.

  • Crossword puzzles, chess, sudoku, or other puzzle games

  • Cooking

  • Travel

  • Gardening

  • Art, music, crafts, writing, podcasting

  • Volunteer work

  • Community-based activities like church, clubs, sports teams, etc.

  • Video games (but explain why)

Remember, you can try to tie in an element of your hobby with a job-related skill or quality, but don’t force it. Simple answers can be just as effective for this question.

Let’s look at some example answers:

  1. Example Answer 1: Salesperson

    “Travel is my passion. I’ve been to 21 countries so far, and I’m not done yet! I love learning and adapting to new cultures, finding commonalities between people everywhere, and just trying a bunch of new foods. There’s a real magic to communication in that so much of it is nonverbal, and I’ve learned to pick up on body language and read the room, even if I can’t always read the menu.”

  2. Example Answer 2: Marketing Manager

    “I really enjoy cooking. I experiment with a new recipe every Sunday evening and while some are disastrous, it’s always fun finding a good meal and adding it to my arsenal. And I never stop trying to tweak my recipes to perfection; except for my grandma’s meatballs.”

  3. Example Answer 3: Accountant

    “Don’t laugh, but I’m a huge Dungeons & Dragons nerd. I organized a biweekly game night with friends that’s gone on for about a year now, and I love my role as dungeonmaster. It’s a fun way to blend my impulse for bookkeeping with my more creative story-telling side.”

  4. Example Answer 4: Retail Clerk

    “I keep up with a variety of hobbies. I go hiking with my dog and husband on the weekends, get out on the boat in the summer, and go skiing upstate in the winter. I’ve also recently gotten into knitting, but I’ve got a long way to go before I can make you a pair of mittens.”

None of these answers try too hard to jam in job-specific keywords. Nevertheless, they all allude to great qualities for the job they’re applying for.

  • A salesperson has to be able to read the room and adapt

  • A marketing manager needs to experiment and try new things

  • An accountant should definitely enjoy bookkeeping (creativity is a bonus)

  • A retail clerk with a variety of interests can speak to a variety of people

Think about how where your hobbies and your career overlap, and you’ll be on your way to a winning answer.

How To Answer “What Do You Do For Fun?”

Ed Samuel
Executive Career Coach

Here’s a twist. If during an interview you are NOT asked the question, “What do you do for fun?”, don’t make the mistake of not sharing something about yourself that gives them a glimpse of who you are beyond work. Yep, a common mistake is simply answering their questions and saying anything about what you do for fun. A great way to give them a glimpse is early on when you’re asked, “So, tell me about yourself.” Use this as the opportunity to weave in one or two items whether it’s volunteer work, a hobby, or simply spending time with your loved ones doing something in common.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to talking about what you do for fun, remember that enjoyment — much like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder.

What you find fun isn’t necessarily what other people would find fun, but then, that isn’t really the point. The point is that you enjoy things outside of work and that you have some way of communicating that to other people, even if they don’t share that interest.

While this is a sort of a softball question, you can knock it out of the park if you’re able to tie your hobby into a job-related skill or quality. At the same time, don’t feel forced to do that if your answer sounds awkward.

At the end of the day, just communicate what you like and why you like it, and you’ll be fine.

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Ryan Morris

Author

Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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