The ‘deer in the headlights’ interview question: What do you do for fun?

The interview has been going well. You have been ‘on point’ with your answers about education and skills, and then from out of nowhere comes the curve ball question: What do you do for fun?

What? What do I do for fun? Are you kidding me?

No, it’s actually a very serious important question. How you answer demonstrates the added dimensions you will bring to the workplace.

This is my ‘personal favorite’ interview question. My intent is not to ‘catch’ folks off guard. My goal is to determine if you will succeed as part of an organization. Are you a fit with the other members of the team? Do you have the potential to build successful relationships with clients?  It’s one thing to be driven and intense. It’s a totally other thing when you scare colleagues and customers with that intensity.

The ‘perfect resume’, relevant work experience and great references unlock the door to the interview. Once the interview begins It’s critical to let your humanity shine through. Folks will be spending a lot of time with you in the workplace. A sense of humor can go a long way to diffusing tension. A conversation about interests offers a bridge to developing trust.

I am astounded by how many people are totally sidelined by this question – lots of silence before a stammering attempt to come up with the ‘right’ answer.

There is no right answer. This is the question about who you are outside work. This should be the easiest question to answer.

I know I have the right candidate when the question diffuses tension and a smile transforms a previously sober candidate into one who is sharing a passion that may have no perceived relevance to the job description.

And this is where the majority of candidates get it wrong. Your passions outside of work inform and energize your life at work.

Think about your answer – not too much. Your response should be spontaneous, but you shouldn’t be surprised.

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