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There are plenty of job interview questions that are complicated and difficult to answer. The interview question “what are you passionate about?” seems misleadingly simple at first – after all, if you know you’re passionate, you should be able to answer this question, right? As with all interview questions, however, there’s an underlying meaning to this question that can make it more difficult to find a good answer.
Here’s what you need to know about coming up with a great answer to this interview question.
The first thing to learn is why recruiters ask this question in general. This can help you construct an effective answer.
A hiring manager is partially asking you this question to learn more about you on a personal level and to see what you’re like in your personal life. While it’s true that this isn’t the only reason, they do want to know a bit about who you are and what you enjoy. People’s lives impact how they perform at a job.
One of the biggest reasons that recruiters ask this question is to see what you’re like when you’re comfortable. When you’re talking about your true passion, you’re going to behave a little differently than you might in the rest of the interview. This question gives the interviewer an opportunity to see how you’ll behave in a more “normalised” context, which is mostly how you’ll be at the actual job.
Recruiters may also ask this to see if you’re a good culture fit with the company. The company culture at every location will be different, and, if you don’t fit in well, it might impact your ability to fit in with the team. A potential employer wants to know that you’re passionate about the same kinds of things that the rest of the company is.
An effective answer to this question showcases your personal passion in a way that connects to elements of the job at hand. You want to talk about a true passion, but you should do it in a way that showcases soft skills, self-improvement, and the type of job you’re looking for. Here are some example answers that you might use for different jobs.
Note that in all of these example answers, the answer connects to the new job in some way, but it’s also truthful.
Knowing how to pick out essentially the same question in different wordings can help streamline your interview answers. A recruiter may use any of these questions to ask essentially the same question:
In all of these situations, you should use the same approach as outlined above. Find something you’re passionate about, talk about why it’s important to you, and connect it to the job.
Not unless your passion seems obviously incongruent with the company. If you can’t find any way to connect your passion to the company, then you may want to find a different passion to talk about. There are many different passions that most people have; because this is one of the most common interview questions, it’s a good idea to brainstorm a few ideas to talk about on this subject before the interview.
Before the interview, it’s a good idea to research the company culture and see what kinds of things they most care about at this company. Do they seem like they really care about an overarching career path? Are they very formal? Does the company have more of an informal appearance? This can help you determine which interview answers to lean toward.
No, this will likely not end well for you. It’s very difficult to fake a passion because the way that you talk about something you’re interested in is different from the way you talk about something you don’t really care about. Additionally, you might get some follow-up questions, and if you’re just pretending to have a passion so that you fit in, you won’t be able to answer those questions. Find a way to tie your real passion into the job interview instead.
Figuring out how to answer ‘ what you’re passionate about’ in the middle of an interview can be a challenge (even if you’ve practised the question) so the best way to craft your response is to remember that the interviewer may be interested in the answer but their real goal is figuring out how you think. There are many work-appropriate things you can list that you’re passionate about (your health, mindfulness, personal growth, art, literature, learning something new) but the root of the question is being able to articulate why that particular passion excites you and demonstrate through examples how it makes you feel, and if possible, how this pursuit relates to the core values of the company.
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