You’re in an interview, and you’re asked, “what are you passionate about?” And you immediately get excited, getting ready to start yapping about your late-night shows and snacking. Wait! Before you jump into that unending rabbit role, read this article to be sure you’re saying the things your interview wants to hear.
More often than not, people lose job opportunities because of what they say or do not say during a job interview.
This stems from misunderstood questions to outright confusion about what is required. One of the most frequently misunderstood interview questions is “what are you most passionate about?.” You might think the interviewer is your friend and wants to get to know you better. Well, you cannot be further away from the truth. So why do interviewers ask this question when they do not want you to let your passions fly?
This article will show you what is expected and what to answer even when work is not a passion of yours.
Why Do Recruiters Ask “What are You Passionate About?”
As earlier mentioned, employers don’t want to know about your pretty little passions. So why do they ask this question: to trap you? No, far from that. There are types of passions or at least how you frame your passions that employers want to hear.
Employers understand that it goes beyond having a great résumé; they want to know if you can stay motivated and how to motivate you when you’re not. Asking what you’re passionate about will give them clues on what your driving force is and if you can thrive in their environment.
Recruiters will also get clues about your strengths when you’re talking about your passions. Instead of asking directly for your strengths, employers prefer to go through this indirect route where it is easier to get the undiluted strengths and not practiced answers. Typically, people develop strengths around their passions as they have invested a lot of time, effort, and sometimes money into that passion.
Your passion can reveal so much about you, and this is what recruiters are banking on when they ask the question. For this same reason, you shouldn’t go off talking about random passions you have when you’re asked the question. The recruiter would want to know what your interests are by asking you about your passion. Your passions are things that interest you, things you’ve spent a considerable amount of time feeding. Employers can know you better on a personal level by hearing you speak about your passions. They can connect with you or not and see if you’re the right candidate for the company’s culture.
How to Answer “What are You Passionate About?”
Knowing what recruiters expect from you is the first step to answering a question. And after going through the above section, I’m sure you’ll not be mentioning some of your late-night movie snacking passions any time soon. So you know why employers ask this question, but how do you answer it? How do you craft a suitable answer that is both genuine and improves your chances?
I got you, and I’ll show you just what to do, how to come up with your answer to “what are you passionate about?”
#1. Pick a Single Genuine Interest
If there was ever a time where being truthful is in your best interest; this is it. You want to select an interest that excites you genuinely. Don’t worry; it doesn’t even have to be related to the job. Some people even believe the more abstract it is, the better your chances.
I’ll show you further down this section how to tie up any genuine passion you have to make it valuable, but for now, the focus is on selecting one genuine interest – not two, just one. The key here is having a central theme where you can base your answer. Employers can sense your excitement in your voice when you’re talking about your passion and hence determine your sincerity or lack of it. This is why you need not lie.
#2. Select a Passion You’re Knowledgeable About
This goes without saying; the passion you pick should be something you know a lot about and are comfortable talking about for more than a couple of minutes. Recruiters typically ask follow-up questions about what you say when answering the question. If you tell the interviewer your passion is watching TV shows, they may ask about your favorite TV show. If you say you love watching football, they may ask you about your favorite team.
You may also be lucky or unlucky (if you lied about your passion) to find that you share passions with one of the recruiters, which will lead to a couple more conversations about the passion. This can instantly create a bond between you two and improve your chances of landing the job.
#3. Explain the “Why?”
Why has this activity become a part of you? Why are you so invested in it? Explaining the why to your answer will set you apart and make the recruiters take notice. Let the interviewer know why you like the activity in the first place and key things pulling you closer to it. You can use these pulls to draw an inference to show how useful you can be in their company. If you say you like hiking, you can add that it makes you adventurous and a calculated risk-taker which may be the kind of person your interviewers want.
#4. Provide Specific Instances of How You’re pursuing Your Passion
Employers want to know how you’re pursuing your passion. Do you say you’re passionate about singing but do not make time to sing? This will show you as somebody who is not dedicated enough. Give examples of what you’ve done and how you’re pursuing your passion. If you say you like cooking, you can add that you have a cooking YouTube channel. You can also mention you’re looking to compete in an upcoming cooking competition.
This will show that you can devote time to what you believe in and like.
#5. Relate Your Passion to the Job
In all your excitement, do not forget to relate your passion to the position you’re interviewing for so the recruiter can see the relevance and what extra thing you can bring to their company.
You can mention abstract skills you’ve picked up from your passion and relate them to the job showing how it enables you to work better and help the company. If you mentioned playing the piano and your passion, you could add that playing the piano requires patience and constant practice, especially when learning something new. Then say how you’ll be bringing practice and patience to your new role to help the company.
#6. What if You Do Not Have a Passion?
We’ve been going on and on about bringing up your passion the right way, but what if you do not have a passion, or you think you don’t? What do you do in this instance?
First of all, a passion can be anything. It does not have to be the conventional “playful” activities. A passion is anything you’re excited about, something you do even in your spare time that makes you happy. It can even be work-related, like coding and sorting out data.
So if you think you do not have a passion, maybe you need to look a little deeper and in a different direction. You can start by asking yourself what you spend your free time on. Think about this; if you’re given a free day with no responsibilities, what would you spend it doing? This can give you a head start.
If you cannot seem to place your head around a passion even after doing this exercise, you can talk about things you’re currently prioritizing like family, your health, just anything.
#7. What You Shouldn’t Do or Say
If there are things to say when asked about your passions, there would also be things you shouldn’t say, something that can damage your chances of getting the job. Here are some don’ts you want to avoid when answering this question:
- Do Not Complicate Your Answer: Simple is always best here, and providing straightforward answers will not only keep you away from trouble but also keep the interview on track. Provide a single passion, so you have a central theme.
- Do Not Mention a Passion That Can Spoil Your Chances: I know I said your passion doesn’t have to be related to the position you’re applying for, but some passions can hurt your chances of getting the job. Avoid things that make you seem like a bad fit for the job.
- Do Not Mention Things That are Not Work Appropriate: Some things like excessive smoking and alcoholism may be great topics when with friends but are not work appropriate, so leave them out when talking about your passions in an interview.
Also Read: 13 Things to Never Do in a Job Interview
Example Answers to “What are You Passionate About?”
To simplify what we’ve been saying in this article, here are answers to the question “what are you passionate about?” that you can use (after tweaking, of course) when asked during an interview.
“I’m passionate about helping other people achieve their goals, and this is why I joined a charity organization reaching out to children about career choices.”
Mention your passion and how you’re pursuing it. Simply stating your answer to avoid complications is a huge win when answering this interview question. This example does justice to it excellently.
“I really enjoy cooking when I’m free. It helps keep my mind at ease and stroke my creativity which I can tap into when I’m at work.”
Here you mention your passion, talk about the why and what makes you like it. Then the skill you’ve picked up from it and how it can help your work.
“The idea of competition excites me. Right from a tender age, I’ve always seen competition as a way to grow and improve. I’ve also come to realize that competition cuts across the team and as an individual.
Playing basketball as a kid made me realize the importance of personal competition, team level, and how the former drives the latter.
It has made me understand that a team is only as strong as its weakest member, and I have to do my part to perfection for my team to win.
Competition has always been a passion, and it’s something I’ll continue to tap into as I strive to help this company grow.”
This is more than the typical short answers we’ve been seeing. It involves a lot more and is suitable for roles requiring individualism, drive, and results. Being comfortable in your skin and able to motivate yourself is an immense skill for managerial positions.
“As a project manager, I’m excited at the thought of taking an idea and turning it into a full-fledged product that customers love. This was one of the things I loved about my past job, as I had the opportunity of turning a lot of ideas into profitable products.
Sometimes your passion may be related to work. Talking about how this work excites you personally is the best way to describe this type of passion.
Instead of rambling about unimportant things when asked, “what are you passionate about?” you can now drive into what the employee wants to hear while remaining as truthful as possible.
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