Tough Interview Question - Do you do any volunteering in your spare time?

Do you do any volunteering in your spare time?

Similar interview questions:
What are your interests outside of work?
Do you do any professional development activities outside of your job?
What have you done to contribute to others in your field on your own time?
Do you get involved in any community organizations?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is a work-life balance question, yet it's also a broader interests question. Although some candidates may object to the question as probing for non-work details, the question itself is fine in its context, since the candidate can answer with either work or non-work examples. The interviewer is looking for your life passion interests and how closely related they might be to your work.

The best approach to answering this question:
Ideally you are involved in non-work volunteer activities that are related either directly or indirectly to your career. This can include involvement in professional associations related to your career or any type of volunteer outreach related to your career. If you do not have a career-related volunteer activity, it is acceptable to talk about other volunteer activities as long as they do not show a political or religious affiliation. If you have no outside volunteer activities, just answer the question truthfully: "At this point in my life, I don't have any volunteer activities outside of work, due to my full-time dedication to my work." You can expand this answer by asking if they would be interested in past volunteer activities and/or plans for future volunteer activities.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"Yes, I've been involved with our local industry association over the past several years. I started getting more active by assisting with the planning for the annual meeting, then in the past two years I've been elected to leadership positions on the Board, first as Treasurer and this year as Vice-President. We just had the elections for next year and I was recently voted the President-elect, so I will be starting my role as President at the beginning of next year…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"Yes, I've been involved in our local professional association and helped to launch a student chapter on campus during my Junior year. This year I'm serving as Secretary of the chapter and it has given me the opportunity to get involved, not only with the professional association, but also with the broader Student Services campus associations group in helping them to design more effective student chapter representation…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Nope, when I'm off work, that's my time to chill. I have very little spare time and I'm not gonna be wasting it on doing stuff for others…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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