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Employers might seek to understand what motivates you during your interview. They might ask questions like, “What motivates you?”, “What work do you enjoy doing?” or “What are you passionate about?”. In this article, we’ll discuss what employers are looking for in your answer and ways you can prepare to answer questions like these.
Why employers ask “What are you passionate about?”
This is a common interview question employers might ask because it gives them clues to a few different areas about you:
- What motivates you
- What your strengths might be
- What interests you personally and professionally
Because employers want to know the best way to make their teams as efficient as possible, it’s helpful to know what inspires their workforce. Asking what you’re passionate about might help them understand how they need to motivate you if hired. It might also inform them whether you’re able to be committed to a certain task, hobby or enthusiasm and if you’re a well-rounded individual.
They might also ask this question to get an idea about your strengths. You likely put time, effort and practice into the skills, hobbies or topics that you’re passionate about. Therefore, you probably have certain strengths built around it. For example, if you’re passionate about helping people, you likely have several strong soft skills like communication, organization and empathy.
Lastly, employers might simply ask what you’re passionate about to get a better idea about you as a person. It is helpful to employers to make a personal connection with candidates to see if they are a good culture fit that aligns with the company’s values, beliefs and attitudes. One way to better understand you as a person is to understand what moves you or what you are passionate about.
One thing to remember as you’re discussing your fitness for the company with employers is that the idea of “culture fit” can sometimes be used as a way to eliminate and discriminate against candidates, however unknowingly, who don’t think, act or look like existing employees. Instead, consider speaking to reasons why you're a strong “culture add,” or your ability to bring fresh and additive ideas and feedback to the team. Culture adds make the company stronger by diversifying the experiences and perspectives of its workforce.
How to answer, “What are you passionate about?”
To answer this question, you can follow a general outline when preparing for your interview:
- Select something you are genuinely passionate about.
- Explain why you’re passionate about it.
- Give examples of how you’ve pursued this passion.
- Relate it back to the job.
Let’s take a closer look at this outline and address each section as you plan for questions like these in an interview.
1. Select an idea, activity, hobby or skill you’re genuinely passionate about
To avoid coming across unenthusiastic or flat, select a passion you can speak about confidently. If nothing comes to mind, think about something you do that makes time pass quickly or something you look forward to doing. It can be as simple as exercising or trying new food. As long as you can speak about it with excitement and knowledge, it will be helpful for employers.
2. Explain why you’re passionate about it
Take a moment to explain why your answer makes you excited. Ideally, this can be something general that relates back to skills or experience that will be useful in the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re passionate about cooking, you can connect it back to taking calculated risks, following instruction and being creative. These are valuable skills in any job.
3. Give examples of how you’ve pursued this passion
Next, explain what steps you take to participate in or advance your passion. If your passion is equal rights for people, for example, you might explain how you volunteer with certain organizations or actively participate in projects for underprivileged communities. This shows employers you’re committed to your passion and are actively working to pursue what motivates you.
You might also include certain applicable goals to strengthen your answer. For example, if your passion is exercising, you might explain that it is your goal to train for and participate in a certain fitness challenge or competition in the next six months.
4. Relate it back to the job
You should end your answer by relating your passion back to the position and why you’re the best fit for the job. For example, if you’re passionate about writing and are interviewing for a role in PR, there are obvious connections you can make with your skills as a writer. You can also explain that writing takes consistent practice to get better, which is something you bring into your practice as an employee.
Example answer for “What are you passionate about?”
Here’s an example answer for the common interview question, “What are you passionate about?” to use as inspiration when preparing your own answer to this question.
“As a software developer, I’m passionate about creating truly beautiful, efficient digital products to make people’s experience with technology memorable. One of the things I loved about my last job was witnessing the results of my team’s code update and watching as our months of work yielded positive user feedback. Having the opportunity to lead projects from ideation through launch was one of the reasons I was so excited to apply for this role.”
After you answer the question, you should be prepared to further explain or answer follow-up questions if asked. Take time to plan your answer to this and other common interview questions before your conversations. Doing so can help you feel more confident and calm during your interviews.
Explaining your passion during an interview can help employers get a better idea about what motivates you and how you are as a person. Providing a confident, knowledgeable answer with examples that relates back to why you’re a great fit for the job will help employers feel confident about you as a candidate.