Job Interview Tips

How to answer the interview question “What are you passionate about?”

Written by Eric Titner

When we’re on the job hunt in search of our next great career opportunity, many of us spend the bulk of our time in prep mode, where we do everything we can to try and get our foot in the door of a company that we want to work for. This includes research to see which companies are hiring, catching up on the latest industry news and trends, and frantic networking to kick open the doors of opportunity. Meanwhile, we’re also polishing our cover letters and resumes until they’re razor-sharp, and—if we’re lucky enough to score an interview—spending an almost embarrassing amount of time thinking about what we’re going to wear to make a perfect impression.

Sure, these are positive steps to take and will help you get closer to making your goal a reality. But the truth is, today’s savvy interviewers are looking for more than just walking bulleted lists of skills and accomplishments. They want to make sure they hire well-rounded candidates who are passionate about work and life who will fit well into their company cultures. According to a recent article by Inc., “… employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and showed superior job performance.”

Think about it—hiring personnel are going to be bombarded with a blizzard of successful candidates who have the requisite abilities to handle the job effectively. Do you want to be just one more qualified person, or do you want to stand out from the crowd and make a deeper impression?

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that today’s successful job candidates are able to demonstrate what motivates and drives them, and what they’re truly passionate about in life—a question that is increasingly popping up during interviews. The truth is, many candidates (even ones who have prepared intensely) stumble when asked what they’re passionate about during interviews. But you don’t have to! Use the following strategies to help you hit a home run when this question comes flying your way.

Be honest

The truth is, seasoned hiring managers are great lie detectors and will likely know when you’re telling the truth and when you’re just floundering in an effort to try and make a good impression. Today’s progressive companies often dedicate time, energy, and resources to a variety of helpful humanitarian causes, and if your passions naturally align with theirs then that’s a sign of a great fit. So, if you’re truly passionate about helping orphans in third-world countries or dedicated to ending ocean pollution that’s fantastic, but if you’re just trying to make yourself sound good, chances are it will backfire—especially if you’re asked follow-up questions that you don’t have answers for. Being honest about what you’re passionate about in life, whatever it is, is your best approach, and the right company will appreciate who you are and what moves you.

Be bold

Chances are if you’re asked about what you’re passionate about in life then so are those other qualified candidates, so do what you can to make sure your response stands out. Use bold and genuine language and imagery when discussing your passions, and if you have a compelling story to back it all up, even better. The goal here is to make a strong impression that you’re the sort of person who dedicates 100% of themselves to the things in life that matter to you—an impression that lasts long after the interview is over.

Tie it all together

As previously mentioned, today’s companies are bolstering their corporate brands by dedicating themselves to all sorts of worthwhile global causes, and if you can show how your passions complement theirs, it’s really going to help you stand out as a potential hire. Also, try to tie your life’s passions to your work life, if possible. Show how you’re the sort of person who is naturally driven and motivated by professional challenges, and how work for you is more than just a paycheck. If you can convince interviewers that your passion for your work is undeniable, you’re going to have a much better shot at demonstrating your potential value as a member of their team.

If you’re looking to have a stand-out performance during interviews and make a lasting impression, then make sure that your passions—in work and in life—are made clear. Use the advice and strategies presented here to help make that happen, and to ensure that you’re doing your absolute best while on the job hunt. Good luck!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.