Tough Interview Question - How do you spend your spare time?

How do you spend your spare time?

Similar interview questions:
Do you have any hobbies?
What do you typically do when you get home from work?
How is your time outside work typically spent?
What do you do for fun?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to understand you as a well-rounded person above-and-beyond your work life. While some candidates may view this as a privacy and/or personal life intrusion, the reality is that interviewers are typically asking this question to get to know you as a person.

The best approach to answering this question:
If you are involved in non-work activities that are either directly or indirectly related to your profession and/or professional development, this is a great time to bring it up. If you are involved in professional associations, additional professional training or self-development, these are the best areas to focus. If you do not have any of these areas, try to focus on intellectual pursuits (“I like reading professional journals to keep up with what is going on in our industry…”) or active pursuits such as sports, arts, charities, etc. Do not bring up any controversial topics such as politics or religion.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"A lot of my spare time recently has been spent in preparing for the professional certification exam for our field. So far I have passed three out of the required tests and will be taking the fourth test next month. I hope to have my certification completed by the end of the year…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"I’ve been involved in the student association for our profession since my sophomore year and this year I’m serving as President of the association. In my role, I also serve as the liaison with the local chapter of the professional association. It has given me the opportunity to meet quite a few local professionals in my field and that was also how I was introduced to your company, through Jane Smith, who is an association member…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, I don’t think you should be asking me about my personal life. It’s none of your business. All that matters is whether I can do the job and what I do on my own time is my business, not yours. I consider this to be an illegal question. In fact, I would like to call a lawyer…"

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 100 Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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