Heath Alva
Posted June 14, 2021

How to answer “What are you passionate about” in a job interview

Learn how to answer the question “What are you passionate about” at an interview even if you don’t yet know what you’re passionate about.
Heath Alva
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How to answer “What are you passionate about” in a job interview
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You probably have one or two topics you’re over-the-moon passionate about that could ignite a conversation for hours.

But when a recruiter asks this question, it doesn’t feel the same way.

Suddenly, you can’t seem to recall anything about what you’re passionate about. Or you have no idea how to bring up the topic while remaining authentic and professional at the same time.

“What are you passionate about” isn’t an easy topic to discuss at a job interview, but when you prepare yourself beforehand, you can nail this question and impress your interviewer.

Here’s what you should know about this popular interview question and how to get ready to answer it successfully.

Why do employers care what you are passionate about?

A hiring manager won't just ask you what you’re passionate about during an interview to make conversation.

Along with other common interview questions, such as “why do you want to work here,” this question helps them get to know you more as a person, instead of just a name in a file.

It can also help indicate what type of employee you’ll be while working there.

Knowing exactly why employers ask this question can help you phrase your answer in a way that will help you stand out from other candidates.

The main reason most employers ask this question is to understand what your values are, and whether you'll fit with the company’s work culture.

Nearly half (45%) of CEOs and HR leaders believe that building the right workplace culture is the most important action they can take to help their business succeed.

Because of this, they need to know whether potential hires will contribute to the existing culture or help the business build toward the culture they’re aspiring to create.

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In addition to company culture, employers want to build a rapport with you during your interview. By taking the time to build some common ground, put you at ease, and strengthen your connection with each other, the rest of the interview will go much more smoothly.

And that’s not just a good thing for you. Believe it or not, interviewers want the interview process to go well, too.

They need their questions answered and want to carefully assess which candidate is the best suited for the position, which can only be achieved in a thorough interview. Building a strong rapport is crucial for this.

Finally, the interviewer will want to learn whether you're able to commit to something. When you explain what you're passionate about and what projects you undertake to fulfill this passion, you’re showing your potential employer that you can complete something that requires dedication.

How do you know what you are passionate about?

If you freeze up when someone asks you a job interview question similar to "what are you passionate about," don’t worry. Not everyone can easily answer this question without thinking about it first.

It’s not always easy to figure out your different passions, so taking the time to brainstorm this and figure it out can help you prepare for an interview.

If you don’t currently have a passion, you can take this opportunity to start cultivating one. This isn’t just helpful for your prospective job opportunities. Pursuing passions, whether old or new, can help you lower your stress levels and contribute to your overall happiness.

People who pursue hobbies and personal interests are 34% less stressed and 18% less sad while working on these activities, and even for some time afterward.

Take time aside and ask yourself: what do you currently spend hours reading or watching or doing in your free time?

Keep in mind that your reading and watching don’t have to come from books or tv. Whether you’re reading on these topics from blog posts or Reddit threads or watching videos on YourTube or TikTok, it still counts as a potential interest.

List these interests and anything else you love talking about or learning about, even if it doesn’t seem like something a potential employer would care about.

Next, list everything that you’re talented at doing. Don’t think about whether you like doing these things yet — just list everything for now. These can be hard skills, soft skills, tasks, or activities.

Compare your two lists. Do any of the items overlap? If it helps, you can create a Venn diagram like the one below.

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Your personal passion lies somewhere between what you’re good at and what you love doing. If these also overlap with what the world needs, you’ve found your purpose. But for now, let’s just focus on your passion.

If you’re still not sure what you’re passionate about after completing this process, you can ask yourself: if you could do one thing all day — what would it be?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to complete this process in just a few minutes. Take the time you need to brainstorm through it. Unless your interview is a few hours from now, you have plenty of time to figure it out.

How to answer the question “What are you passionate about?” with authenticity and professionalism

When you know what your passion is, you’ll also need to figure out how to frame this passion to sound authentic and professional in your interview.

Follow these four steps to prepare yourself to answer the question confidently.

1. Find a passion from your life

If you haven’t done the previous exercise to figure out your passion, here are a few more pointers.

A passion should light you up with excitement when someone asks you to talk about it. It should be easy to talk about for hours on end.

This means you should pick something that you’re not just passionate about, but also confident enough to discuss with ease. This passion doesn’t have to be work-related to be relevant at an interview.

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Your biggest passion can stem from activities you perform on your own during your spare time, or with families or friends. It can be a hobby, like candle-making or woodworking, or it can come from your life experience.

Passions can also come from an area of knowledge. For instance, if you can’t get enough of learning about space exploration, it can still be your passion — even if you’re not exploring space yourself.

Avoid lying about a passion. If the interviewer asks follow-up questions and you’re not genuinely knowledgeable and passionate about the topic, you’ll be stuck.

2. Explain what drives your passion

There’s a reason you’ve pursued your passion. Perhaps it’s the feeling of accomplishment you get after exercising a skill you enjoy practicing, or maybe there’s something in your life story that drives you to pursue this further.

Relate this reason to specific skills it takes to cultivate this passion.

For example, if you love woodworking, it could be because you’ve always been skilled with your hands and that you love the precision and attention to detail it takes to make something beautiful.

3. Break down how you have developed and pursued your passion

Passions don’t develop on their own. In order to get where you are, you have most likely had to commit to your passion in one way or another.

What concrete steps do you take daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to develop this passion and further your skills?

Note this down so that you know how to explain this during your interview. This is especially valuable if you’ve needed to learn new skills or make recurring commitments.

4. Explain how this makes you the best fit for the job

Your passion makes you a better person, and it most likely makes you a better candidate for the job, too.

Explain how the knowledge, hard skills, or soft skills developed from pursuing your passion in the previous steps make you an asset.

For example, the dexterity required to become a talented woodworker would make you an amazing forklift operator.

3 example answers to inspire you at your next job interview when asked, “What are you passionate about?”

Before you walk into your interview, you should practice explaining what you’re passionate about out loud. You can do this alone in front of the mirror, with your roommate, or with a friend or family member.

There is no 'right answer' for this question, but there are some effective ways to frame your explanation. Below are some sample answers for the question “What are you passionate about?” in case you need some inspiration to guide you.

Example 1:

“I’m passionate about lifting weights, especially because it helps me focus and feel good inside and out. I commit to showing up to the gym five times a week and challenge myself to progressively add intensity every single time I work out. It's helped me learn how to persevere through some tough challenges in other aspects of my life, because if I can show up for myself there, I can show up in other aspects, too.”

Example 2:

“My mother was homeless before meeting my father and having me, so I’ve always had a passion for volunteering at my local homeless shelter and soup kitchens. I know the difference a good night’s sleep and a hot meal can have on someone, so I want to help others have access to that like my mother did before meeting my father. One of the things I’m most passionate about is preparing hearty meals with limited resources, and I think that's helped me become more resourceful.”

Example 3:

“I’m passionate about budgeting. I’ll spend hours creating detailed spreadsheets to plan out my week, my month, and even my entire year when it comes to my personal budget, and I also read tons of books about personal finance to help me learn more about the topic. I’ve become very good at setting financial goals and sticking to them no matter what, and this has also helped me adapt when emergencies strike.”

Use your passion to stand out at your next interview

When you fully understand yourself and what you’re passionate about, you can express yourself more easily when the subject comes up at your next interview. Keep in mind that your passion doesn’t have to be directly related to the job you’re applying for, but it should say a lot about who you are and what you can bring to the company culture.

In the examples discussed above, lifting weights isn’t just relevant in a warehouse job, volunteering at soup kitchens doesn’t just help you work in a restaurant, and budgeting isn’t just useful in an office setting. It’s the underlying skills and commitments required to pursue these passions that make you an asset.

Looking for more opportunities to showcase your passion in an interview? Try out Jobcase during your next job search to find companies with company cultures that fit your passion!

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Libby Lee

I honestly don't have or even know what I'm passionate about. That's probably why I struggle with different aspects of my life like never married or knowing what I want to be when I grow up. 😉 Lol

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