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I was asked about hobbies in two separate situations and I'm not sure if it's a genuine attempt at finding out how I spend my spare time, or looking for an answer without directly asking for it.

First

During a non-coding position, I was asked what I do for hobbies during the interview. The company was a small community center, that was looking for a internal IT help desk. I answered by saying I love to learn and code, and I seek out well-written, well reviewed textbooks to learn, and I mentioned I play with Python, a language I didn't learn in school, but picked up on my own.

Second

I was working at a bank in a junior level position, and the manager had a one and one meeting with us(team of 6 people), to get an idea of how we were doing, and if anything was bothering us. I was asked about hobbies. I told her I experiment with languages that I didn't learn in school, and have in interest in linux.

Understand, I'm not asking about including hobby projects on a resume, but when employers ask that question, what do they want to know? Am I spending my time constructively or wasting it?

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when employers ask that question, what do they want to know? Am I spending my time constructively or wasting it?

Something along the lines of "When you aren't working, what do you like to do in your spare time?" is a fairly common question that lots of interviewers ask.

The interviewer is likely just trying to give you an easy question to answer that gets you talking, reveals something about your personality, and opens the avenue to more casual chatting. As far as I can tell from all the interviews I've attended this was never delivered as a trick question.

In answering, you should just be honest. If you love to go mountain-climbing every weekend and vacation, you should mention that. If you like to play softball, you should mention that. If you like to volunteer in a local food bank, mention that. If you prefer to work on open-source projects, mention that. If all your free time is spent with your family, mention that.

Unless your hobbies involve something clearly controversial or objectionable to many, then just be honest.

There's no need to say you like to code in your spare time, if that's not what you actually do. It's a fine hobby, but it's not necessary to lie about it if that's not your hobby.

Try not to indicate that you have no hobbies at all - that could make you come across as a dud. If necessary, mention something that you've done just a few times that could be construed as a hobby.

  • thought I agree with you, I can tell that I heard more than once that I should be coding in my spare time, participate to open source projects and so on. – Walfrat Oct 23 '17 at 7:20
  • You could add that often, people believe that a person's hobbies tell you a lot about the kind of person they are. The purpose of the question in an interview therefore seems to be part of the process of forming an image of the kind of person the interviewee is. – Cronax Oct 23 '17 at 9:14
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I've seen this question used to weed out people who don't want to learn.

For example: if you're new to coding and you show that none of your hobbies are about learning then the interviewer might see that as a sign that you're not as interested in the field as you are claiming.

I answered by saying I love to learn and code, and I seek out well-written, well reviewed textbooks to learn, and I mentioned I play with Python, a language I didn't learn in school, but picked up on my own

Assuming this is true for your interviewer, then your answer is great. It shows that you want to learn and you're actively interested in the field.


It seems to be a belief that you have to "truely love" computers to be a programmer. Possibly this belief extends to other fields also.

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    It was indeed true, and I'm glad I answered it this way. :D – user78265 Oct 23 '17 at 11:34
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It depends on the context.

When asked during an interview, questions about hobbies are meant to support statements about soft skills: if one claims to be a team player with good leading skills and then states his hobbies are reading and playing solitary, well, it sounds strange.

While the same questions asked during knowledge making are just meant to know each other better. And usually questions about hobbies are good ice breakers as they normally deal with non sensitive topics.

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I think you might be over thinking this.

Normally interviewers ask questions about hobbies etc get a sense of you as a person whether you have a hinterland ie the ability to find value in things beyond the discipline that provides employment.

Did you only do courses hyper focused on your degree or did you say participate in univesity clubs being the president of the union at oxford or cambridge, member of the foot lights or have you done charity/community work with say rotoract (youth arm of roatary)

Almost all jobs benefit from having a well-rounded person in them.

The second one is just your manger doing his job to check that everything Is going well etc