10 Answers to "What Are You Passionate About?" [2020 Updated]

When an interviewer asks, “What are you passionate about?” you might be stopped like a deer in headlights. It can be hard to think on your feet regarding yourself and pull out an answer, which is what the interviewer or hiring manager is looking for. We’re here to help!

The interviewer, when asking a job interview question like this, is looking to know a little more information about you beyond the qualifying interview questions. This is an opportunity for them to get you to know on a slightly more personal level. Keep in mind, they cannot ask certain questions for legal purposes related to the interview. So how can they professionally get to you who you are? They can ask a question like this.

But it can be not very clear. How are you supposed to think about what you are passionate about? It’s a tough question to be asked in general. And isn’t something we often think about on a daily basis, what fuels our passions. The way to go into the interview is to have your question prepared in advance. You’ll need to make sure you spend enough time thinking through who you are, what drives you, and how you might be able to share that in a way that also captures your professional life.

Ready? Let's get started.

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Answering "What Are You Passionate About?"

When answering this common interview question, it’s essential to share parts of your life that are more than simply passions. For example, you might be passionate about makeup. But makeup is going to be very hard to explain to someone and sound enticing to an interviewer, unless you are interviewing at Revlon, for example. Because of this, think through passions that you have, which also show where you are trying to take your professional career (your career path). Are they regarding your passion for leadership, your passion for helping others, your passion for being part of a team? These are all area’s which the interviewer will have a better time relating to in the conversation.

If you are thinking through potential passions of yours, try to pick those which:

  • Show your compassion for others.
  • Show you’re an executer.
  • Show you have a drive to succeed.
  • Are easy to relate to your professional career or accompanying to where you’ve taken your professional career.

Avoid answering with emotional or too of personal passions. For example, the interviewer won’t be able to do much when you share your passion for a doll collection. While it does, in fact, tell them more about you, it neglects to be able to show that you stand out from the rest of the candidates because it shows a proactive duty to grow. The more goals you have for work that you can relate to your passions in this answer, the better off you are with the answer. Remember that this question is to help them get a sense of who you are without looking at the resume. Choose passions that aren’t already listed on the resume so that you can ensure they are extracurricular passions you are sharing. If you are having a difficult time finding passions, ask a family member or friend what their opinion of your passions are. And start there.

Use the company website and the job description as a way to gather information and speak to requirements as part of personal passions. For example, let's presume the job opening is for a Software Engineering role. If the role requires working with JavaScript (a coding language), then the candidate speaking about having a passion for JavaScript is going to make the candidate seem appealing. Use the job description to find aligned interests between the employee and employer.

Passions that the candidate may want to share with the potential employer:

  • Having a passion for developing a new skill or new soft skill.
  • Having a passion for discovering a different passion.
  • Having a passion for developing a new interest.
  • Having a passion for learning "new things."

Pro fact: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire (for a company) is estimated at a minimum 30% of the employee’s first-year salary. This means hiring is now more strict than ever before.

Common Mistakes When Answering This Interview Question

There's one elementary mistake that's often made when answering this question. That's using this an opportunity to "brown nose." A prevalent answer to this job interview question is, "I'm passionate about this job!". And that's not a good answer at all. The reason is, you don't currently have a job. So how do you know that you are passionate about it?

The better way to answer this question is to ensure that there are qualities about the job that you are passionate about. For example, a passion for learning new skills.

Try to avoid answering with:

  • An answer that doesn't seem logical.
  • An answer that suggests you are desperate about getting the job.
  • An answer that doesn't reflect your personality.
  • An answer that isn't truthful.
  • An answer that revolves around personal interests rather than professional.
  • An answer that doesn't use a true passion (this will do the candidate an injustice).
  • An answer that utilizes a hobby rather than a professional career path objective.

As a job seeker, if nothing comes to mind in terms of passions, using teamwork as a passion is always acceptable. For example, working with new people, finding ways to address problems and solutions together, doing great work, and having general enthusiasm about work. The "good thing" or "good feeling" that comes from working with talented people, addressing new problems, and coming up with ways to make customers happy. An answer with this type of reasoning uses company culture to speak about passions.

Why Do Employers Care About Your Passions

Simply put, employers care about your passions because they want to make sure that they are placing you into a job function you will enjoy. That's the truth. If they can align your passions with parts of the job that drive excellence, they know they'll get the best performance out of you. And that saves them money and difficulty in the long run.

Pro tip: In a study performed by HireRight in 2018, 55% of companies say they struggle with employee turnover. Meaning they are seeking employees who are more committed and passionate about their jobs, resulting in longer employment.

It is a frequent occurrence to have employees be disgruntled with their work and quit after a concise period of time due to the fact that the interviewer and interviewee were not clear about their intentions with the job.

10 Example Answers To “What Are You Passionate About?”

Shows leadership

“I’m very passionate about working within local communities, especially within neighborhoods that are in need of assistance. Last year I was able to help raise money for a community garden. Building community and nurturing our society are absolutely a passion of mine.”

“Last year, I was able to take part in a retreat on behalf of my church. It was to a third-world country where we spent two weeks developing homes for those less fortunate. It is absolutely a passion of mine to help those in need.”

Shows team work

“This year, I’ve been playing in a men's/women’s sporting league. It feels terrific to be apart of a team, where everyone plays an integral role together in competing. It’s a passion of mine to play sports, primarily for the teamwork and discipline required to advance forward.”

“I’ve been very passionate about helping with extracurricular activities at nearby schools. I volunteer and coach various after-school activities. My favorite part of this is how I can teach our youth that you are better off working together than working against each other. This is definitely a passion of mine.”

Shows philanthropic desires

“Over the last year, I’ve been part of many fundraising efforts. Primarily for those in need in our housing community. Last year someone was diagnosed with cancer, and I was in charge of creating the events which brought our community together and raised over $15,000 for the donor. Helping others in need is absolutely a passion of mine”

“I’m a big part of our community orphanage. Through my efforts with the orphanage, we’ve been able to take children without families out on trips. We’ve also been able to take them to community dinners, game nights, and much more. It has been extremely gratifying working with these children. That’s absolutely a passion of mine.”

Shows ability to execute

“Last year, the dog shelter in the area needed a helping hand. They were understaffed, and the animal living conditions were beginning to suffer. I put together a Facebook group and got more than 20 volunteers to sign up and help with efforts to clean up the habitats for the animals. Helping animals is a passion of mine.”

“I’m very passionate about health and well-being. In fact, this year, I held a community running event, community yoga event, and general fitness event. I love seeing others push themselves to new levels and encourage the fact that we can educate ourselves on health and wellness.”

Shows compassion

“My biggest passions are actually helping my family. I know it seems somewhat odd, but I’m very close to them, and we all help each other on a regular basis. From rebuilding decks to walking each other's dogs. We act as a family unit, and spending time with them is a passion of mine.”

“I’m very passionate about working at our local library. I’m a fan of books. They show our history and records of life in a way that I believe children should have available to them in the future. So I spend a good portion of my free time volunteering there to ensure our youth has the same opportunities that I did growing up.”

Interview Question FAQ

Questions from job seekers regarding common interview questions like this one.

Should my passion allude to my soft skills?

Absolutely. All of your passions that you mention during the session should include a reference to your soft skills. One of which might be your devotion or motivation. For example, bringing up health and fitness is perfectly okay since it mentions your ability to be motivated and work toward something greater. Helping people is another great mention since it describes how you choose to spend your time working and helping other people's lives (much like teamwork does).

How should I find a passion if I don't have one?

It's best not to spend your time finding your passion. You have a passion. But just don't see it. And going through this process of exploring and uncovering what makes you passionate can be helpful for the hiring process and your interview as a whole. Ask a friend or family member to describe what they feel makes you passionate. Learn what they have to say. Then pursue some ideas around your interests and correlate them to what you do in your spare time that can make your interview more engaging.

What is a list of passions to give me some ideas?

  • Working on relationships.
  • Attaining personal growth.
  • Focusing on your happiness and the happiness of those around you.
  • Writing.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Creativity.
  • Health and well-being.
  • Making a difference in the lives of your friends and family.

Think about what gives you passion and purpose in your life and start there.

What skills should I try to allude to?

  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Work ethic.
  • Empathy.
  • Adaptive mindset.
  • Focus.
  • Creative endeavors.

Think about your life experience and professional experience. And try to combine the two to speak to what the job requires as well as what strengths you can bring to the role or company. This is a challenging interview question. Spend your time to explore who you are and what makes you special.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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