Answering the “What Are You Passionate About?” Interview Question

Dana Guterman
Updated: July 24, 2020

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” goes the old adage. And yet, this isn’t always the most practical advice. After all, making a living from playing video games or petting your cat is highly unlikely. So, why do interviewers ask, “What are you passionate about?” Because your passions show the real you—and the skills that you’re motivated to build even when you’re not collecting a paycheck.

At the same time, you want to ensure your every interview response bolsters your “I’m the best candidate” case. Today, we’ll show you how to check both boxes. The best way to connect your personal passion with your day job is by focusing on the transferable skills that apply to both.


How to answer “What are you passionate about?”

The interviewer wants to know what inspires you and brings you joy. To craft a successful answer, use the following framework for your answer:

1. State what you most love doing.

Start by sharing what genuinely excites you. It can be a hobby, an activity, or a cause (but stay away from anything controversial). If it directly relates to the job, that’s great; this question will be easy for you. If not, that’s totally fine. This is all about letting your passion and enthusiasm shine through. In general, engaged and motivated people are engaged and motivated employees. Let’s take a look at an example for an aspiring social work intern:

I absolutely love plants and gardening. In fact, I live in a 600-square foot apartment, but I have 26 plants.

2. Share how you’ve pursued your passion and integrated it into your life.

This question is less about the passion itself than how you’ve pursued said passion and what you’ve learned from it. Include specific examples of what this interest has inspired you to do, like this:

Since I don’t have a yard, I’ve been taking classes at the local botanical garden for the past three years. I’ve learned so much about everything from soil type to attracting bees, plus I’ve made some great friends.

3. Discuss which skills you demonstrate through your passion.

This is where you start to seal the deal. Focus on which skills you’ve gained or honed through your passion. These will likely be soft skills, which can also be applied to this role. “Aha!” your interviewer will think. “If this candidate is so successful with their passion using these skills, they’ll also rock this job.”

Eventually, I want to be a Master Gardener, so that I can teach others how to care for their plants, too. It takes years, but I’m someone who loves to learn. I’ve also learned to be attuned to each plant’s needs and to pay attention to the details. I need to be committed, and I need to listen.

4. Apply your passion, and the skills above, to the job/field at hand.

Finally, you want to ensure the interviewer understands exactly how your response makes you a great candidate for this role. Spell it out to drive the point home, such as:

Building these skills has served me well as a psychology major, encouraging me to pursue professional development opportunities, and teaching me to be patient and in step with each client’s needs.


“What are you passionate about?”: Example answers

Take a look at some more examples of strong responses.

Example 1: Entry-level marketing coordinator

I love to travel. There’s something about being somewhere new and seeing things I’ve never seen that just fills me up. About a year ago, I started my own blog about how to travel the world solo as a woman of color. It’s been so inspiring to connect with women from all over, so that even when I’m not traveling, I’m immersed in these diverse opinions and experiences. As a marketing coordinator, this diversity informs my writing, particularly in terms of better speaking to and meeting the needs of different target audiences. Plus, I have to be super creative and efficient to fit several trips into 10 days of PTO each year. Traveling drives me to be a better person, writer, and citizen of the world.

Enthusiastic, ambitious, with a direct link to the job she’s interviewing for, even though the passion appears unrelated to the role: this response hits all the right notes. At the same time, a love for travel could spook potential employers. Will it interfere with your job and impact your ability to be in the office? This candidate gets ahead of any anxiety by letting the interviewer know that travel makes her an even better worker. 

Example 2: Software development intern

I’m passionate about woodworking. In my free time, I use the woodworking studio on-campus, and I make lamps, side tables, bowls—all different things. Woodworking requires many of the same skills as coding: a meticulous attention to detail, strong problem-solving skills, and a lot of patience. Since I’m using a computer all day, I like to step away and use my hands; it refocuses me and allows me to use another part of my brain, allowing me to stay inspired and to think about things in a new way.

This candidate has a unique passion and more subtly connects it to the internship at hand, which is simple and effective.


By sharing your passions, you show the interviewer that you’re a complex person. A good employer will recognize that and want to capitalize on what truly makes you tick.