“What are you passionate about, and why?”
It’s a common yet confusing question during a job interview.
Many candidates fail to notice the real purpose behind this question and end up answering casually, something like:
“I am passionate about traveling, meeting new people, and trying new cuisines.”
“I am passionate about playing guitar or keyboard.”
Well, these are not the answers the interviewer might want to hear. A potential employer is not going to hire people based on their personal interests in playing guitar or the keyboard on Saturday Night Live.
They want to know about the passion of a candidate to see if that will contribute to the company’s growth, and the love for travel, food, or music is not probably on their list.
What is the real meaning of this question and how to answer it?
Before we delve into the details of answering the question “What are you passionate about?” it is important to keep in mind that the question itself implies something else.
The question actually refers to the candidate’s motivations, personal values, and work ethics.
The hiring manager mainly wants to see if the person can connect his/her passion for the position they are seeking.
As a candidate, these questions can naturally crop up in your mind, “Should I talk about my experience and work?” or “I am not sure what to answer if my real passion and the work I do are different.”
Again, remember that a candidate’s passion can be different, but irrelevant to that particular job description. So, it is ideal to find a way to answer and establish a connection between one’s qualifications and skills that can be useful for the company.
In disguise of the question on “passion,” a recruiter might want to understand the motivational triggers when it comes to candidates’ work based on their skill sets and experience.
The real intent of the interviewer might be to know:
“What are your motivating factors?” or “Which job areas you enjoy working the most?”
Answers to these specific questions require a little homework while preparing for an interview.
Here a few pointers:
1. Identifying a concept, an activity, or skill as driving factors
When answering the question about passion, making things up is not such a good idea as the interviewer can easily figure out whether it is fake or real.
It is because experienced interviewers hear a lot of such answers, and their experience and the candidates’ body language and tone of voice often tell them which answers aren’t real.
Numerous organizational researches have found that candidates pretend while answering some specific questions because they do not want to look ignorant or someone who lacks passion.
This is why thinking about something genuinely as a passion and having the confidence to demonstrate when a situation demand is a key.
2. Honesty still goes a long way
Many candidates say things during interviews to make a good impression. However, what they often say, might sound too good to be true to the interviewer.
Now, considering the earlier example of passionate about interpersonal skills, if an interviewee in reality, is a shy person, his/her claim to be interactive will appear contrary. It is because the interviewer can sense the shyness.
This is why it is important to be honest so that the conviction while talking about it will reflect.
3. Telling the Interviewer about “Why?”
It is ideal for a candidate to explain why he/she is passionate about a certain activity or idea and how far they can go to keep the passion alive.
Explaining the following can be a good idea:
● Why having a particular passion is so important?
● Why candidates are willing to put in their time and effort into that passion?
● How this passion has influenced a person to evolve.
● Are candidates 100% committed to their passion?
Ideally, a passion should be relevant to the potential job. Again, for example, if someone says, “I am passionate about human interactions.”
Now, to explain “why?” The person can say that “Interactions with different people, improves my soft skills and will help me to easily adapt to the company culture.”
Interpersonal skills can be valuable in any job, particularly in customer service, human resources, or marketing.
4. Explaining “How” a Passion can be connected to the job
We talked about in the previous section that there is a need to establish a connection or relevance between a person’s passion and a prospective job. This time, a little more explaining is required.
If, for example, if a candidate says he/she is passionate about logo designing and the interview is for a graphic designing role, that passion will surely be handy.
5. There is a Flipside of being “too passionate”
Showcasing ‘too much of passion’ does not always yield positive results.
As the saying goes, it is crucial to “curb the enthusiasm.”
It is better not to let the interviewer have the impression that a certain passion can be hazardous to the work itself.
If someone, for example, is too passionate about bungee jumping, and want to try that skill by jumping off a skyscraper, it is advisable to keep this desire to oneself. It is better to say something else that is more relevant to the job.
Sample Answers to the Question “What are you passionate about?”
Here are a couple of examples of answers to this particular question. Candidates can use these answers as a framework while preparing for interviews:
Example 1: Applying for a Software Developer Job
“I am passionate about software development and have done several projects on developing innovative and useful digital products that will help users to solve their issues and make their experience seamless.
I know several complex programming languages, and love to implement in the projects. With my passion and skill, I can contribute a great deal to this company’s projects and successful completion.”
Example 2: Applying for a Sales Job
“I am passionate about interacting with people and persuade them. During my school days, before any festival, I used to make hand-made toys and put up tables at my school, just like other students.
I was able to sell most of my stuff because of my interactive and persuasion skills. I used to convince younger students and their parents that the toys are exceptional.
Also, during my college days, I applied the same technique, and this time by selling greeting cards before major festivals. Students and parents gladly bought my cards.
I can apply my interaction and persuasive skills in this job to increase sales and provide customer satisfaction!”
Here is a word of caution. There are likely to be some follow-up questions and it is particularly important that the answers are consistent.
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