how honestly should you answer “what do you do for fun?” in an interview?

A reader writes:

I was just asked in an interview what I like to do for fun, and after a few jokes about how I’m a bit of a geek, I declared, “I host a Dungeons and Dragons game.”

Now, on the one hand, I’m an engineer, and a geeky engineer is more the norm than the exception, and I didn’t want to give an answer that made me seem antisocial. But on the other hand, I feel like there might be other stigmas with my other honest answers like “watch TV, play video games, read books.”

I feel like these types of questions are to probe how social you are, how industrious you are, and how pleasant you might be to work with. Was “Dungeons and Dragons” a bad answer? What would a good answer look like?

Nah, interviewers really aren’t usually asking to probe how social or industrious you are! They’re mostly (a) trying to get a better sense of who you are as a person — not to reject you over it, but just to feel like they know a little more about you, and (b) seeing if you can make pleasant small talk about a topic you’re comfortable with.

If you’re not desperate for a job, any job, you should answer honestly! You’re looking for a job where you’ll be comfortable being yourself — not at a place that will judge you for playing D&D or video games.

Obviously there are some limitations to that. Your interviewer — and your eventual coworkers — don’t need to know that you spend most weekends making genitalia-shaped cakes or that these days you’re mostly google-stalking your ex. But if your hobby or interest falls in the categories of “things you’d be willing to mention to your grandma or a friendly neighbor” and “things you’d ideally like to occasionally mention to coworkers once you’re on the job,” go ahead and mention it now. If they don’t like it, it’s better to find that out now.

On the other hand, if your highest priority is to just get the job — and you’re not as concerned about a comfortable fit — then sure, there can be benefit to editing your answers a bit more. In that case, you might skip the mention of video games since some people are weirdly judgy about them.

In that case, it’s fine to talk about reading (mention a book you’ve read recently to make this more interesting) … or cooking, or spending time with your family, or training antelopes, or whatever you do like to do with your leisure time.

In general, though, interviewers aren’t usually scrutinizing your answer to this question that much. Look at it as an attempt to connect with you as a human more than anything else.

{ 223 comments… read them below }

  1. many bells down*

    I work for a religious nonprofit and my online staff bio says I’m an avid D&D player. So far I’ve only had compliments, but we do tend to have a pretty liberal clientele.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      My sense is that conservative Christians thinking D&D is Satanic is more of an ’80s thing. I’m sure that you can find some churches that still hold to this, in the same way that you can find churches that insist that the King James Version is the One True Bible, but even among Evangelicals this isn’t anything like the issue it used to be. Among the liberal churches (among which I include mine)? D&D as Satanic would be a joke. As would KJV-only, for that matter.

      1. Fikly*

        I was watching a show that had footage from a police investigation that took place in the 80s, and there was a cop that cited the suspect being a D&D player as evidence he was a serial killer.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep – Any suspect on Forensic Files who plays D&D, you can bet they’re hammering on that.

      2. HoHumDrum*

        Oh I wish that were a thing of the past. My SO’s family is absolutely aghast that we play D&D and fully believe that it’s of the devil. They also have issues with Harry Potter specifically and fantasy generally, as well as Pokemon, yoga, and really anything that seems either new age or too dark. Basically anything that’s ever been in the news as “anti-Christian” they’re against, even when they don’t know much about it (…*especially* when they don’t know anything about it). They go to a church that bills itself as very modern and chill, not Evangelical feeling at all but is actually quite conservative.

          1. Free Meercats*

            Considering there’s a bill in the Alabama legislature (HB-35) right now to lift the ban on yoga in schools… But, “(5) All poses, exercises, and stretching techniques shall have exclusively English descriptive names.” :)

        1. Gumby*

          Days late with this but… They also have issues with Harry Potter specifically and fantasy generally – Have they not heard of C.S. Lewis? Tolkien? HP is, in many ways, similar to works by those authors. Seriously, there are books about this!!!

      3. Adlib*

        Heh, I grew up in the 80s and remember this being a thing. Once I grew up and became an avid gamer myself, I thought back and was like “wait, what?” (Same with KJV.)

      4. Annony*

        I used to go to a D&D meet up that was actually hosted in a church. Their only request was not to play the evil alignment.

        1. Phil*

          This reminds me of the time me and my siblings and some friends, all Christians, and my dad, a pastor, played Cards Against Humanity in the church. Definitely a surreal game night.

          1. TardyTardis*

            There’s an Army version of Cards Against Humanity offered by the same people who run Duffel Blog (military humor)–I got a set for my brother (ret. Navy Officer) and he said they were a hoot.

        2. ofotherworlds*

          That’s not an uncommon request even for games that aren’t hosted by a sacred venue. Evil PCs tend to be backstabby, and that often leads to major drama in the group. Better to cut off that possibility unless everyone agrees to that play style in advance.

      5. Phil*

        Christian here with a kind of strict upbringing (we weren’t allowed to watch Sabrina The Teenage Witch, for instance). I, as a D&D player, had to assure a family friend that there is nothing at all satanic about it so her teenage son is perfectly fine to play. The funny part is, this is the same woman who introduced me to Harry Potter about a year before the series really exploded in popularity.

  2. Kiwiii*

    Especially for tech adjacent jobs, DnD is probably a fine answer because 1) they’ve likely encountered it before and 2) it shows you can coordinate people/strategize/are creative. it’s maybe a little too nerdy for anything particularly straight-laced, but in tech they’re usually looking for something relatively social. I go with bowling most of the time.

    1. Kiwiii*

      FWIW we ask in interviews “Whats something you learned about just because it interested you?” We get lots of people who say cooking, plenty who say coding because we fill a weird niche between tech positions and liberal arts education, but we had an interviewee talk about her mythology minor and another talk excitedly about cults for about 10 minutes last time, which was absolutely fascinating and clued us a lot further into the way they interact with things that interest them.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I think that is a much better question than the “What do you do for fun or hobbies” because it shows how they engage with learning new things.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Yes, and also, helps you select for people who are interested in learning for the sake of learning. Which are good people to have on your team.

          I quite like this question.

        1. Jonah*

          Once upon a time, I had a job interview and the interviewer asked what I was interested in outside of work, and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “cults.” I’d just been reading The Road to Jonestown and a bunch of other books about cults and the psychology behind them, so it wasn’t a lie. But, boy, I didn’t think it through. I got the job, and once I started, my boss told me he hired me because he could tell I was going to be weird and fun to work with.

            1. alldogsarepuppies*

              Once I spent a first date comparing our favorite escape from cult memoirs. Next week, we celebrate our first anniversary. I say that hearing his thoughts on cults is when I knew there would be a second date.

              1. Jay*

                Oh, man, I cannot get this old Farside comic out of my head now:
                Thanks a lot you guys.
                No, I mean it.
                Thanks a lot.
                Old Farside comics are a darn site better than what’s in there most of the time ;)

                1. TardyTardis*

                  Although I really like the Farside toon about the schools required to host religious societies and the “Oh Great Thor, bring us a sacrifice’ just as the principal is knocking on the door.

            2. LondonBridges*

              Oooh same, I bought a handbook from one cult from the 1970s at a used bookstore and have been spending a lot of my time off from college just reading up on the cult and trying to learn all I can about it!

        2. Fake Name For This Post*

          I’m a scholar in the academic study of religion, and I just wanted to note that while “cult” is originally from the Latin “cultus” (as in “cultus deorum,” meaning “caring for the sacred powers/gods”) and has a positive meaning, in English it currently has a strongly pejorative meaning. I know the media use the term “cult” for any non-mainstream religion, but in my discipline, we advocate for the term “new religious movement” or NRM. This alternative is intended to encourage study and understanding of the NRM instead of starting from a position of persecution or demonization.

          1. MayLou*

            What if the religion in question isn’t new? My personal definition of a cult, which might be inaccurate, is an organised group with shared beliefs that requires financial contributions, strict adherence to rules, and obedience to a living human leader who is viewed as enlightened or more closely connected to a higher power. That obviously encompasses a number of pretty venerable institutions.

            1. Sorrischian*

              I find the definition used by the fascinating podcast Let’s Talk About Sects to be a useful one:
              “Dominated by a charismatic leader or leadership that closely controls its members, particularly with regards to their exercising their free will to disengage with the group and its ideology
              Who believes that they exclusively have access to the truth and the rest of the world is wrong; and
              Who are largely secretive about the workings of their society to outsiders”

              Your definition, I think, isn’t exactly wrong but is probably a bit too broad because it doesn’t account for the level of social control and insularity that separates a benign religion, whether new or long-established, from a group that might deserve the pejorative edge to the term ‘cult’.

              1. Fake Name For This Post*

                The definition used on that podcast would also not work in the academic study of religion. At all. There is a huge problem with your use of the term “benign” as well. Who gets to decide which religions are benign?

                And that’s going to be my last post on this topic in this forum, because now I have to move all my classes online! (SCREAM)

            2. Fake Name For This Post*

              The quick and dirty answer is that all religious movements were once new, and those who study NRMs are usually interested in how they started.

              Your definition of “cult” certainly reflects the current media presentation of NRMs, but it would not work in an academic context. For instance, some NRMs focus on practices rather than beliefs, some do not involve money, some don’t have strict rules, and some don’t have a living human leader.

              1. allathian*

                Perhaps sect would be a better term than cult? Some religious movements that I would define as sects are quite old, and don’t necessarily venerate a living leader. They do, however, strictly police the thinking of their members and are quite harsh in the treatment of people who want to leave. I’m thinking about movements like Scientology and Jehovah’s Witnesses and at least the latter demands that people ostracize (as in stop talking to and pretend they don’t exist) family members who leave.

            3. Timothy (TRiG)*

              In common discourse, the word cult seems to have come to mean “a religion I dislike”. It’s quite a weasily word, and probably best avoided.

              If you want to talk about dangerous religious movements, the BITE model and Bonewit’s ABCDEF are good tools, though since we have an actual religious scholar in the conversation, maybe they can suggest better ones.

  3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    If there’s time and opportunity to talk more about this kind of thing, I find it good to throw in additional info that shows you know yourself. “I like to cook – it’s a right-brain thing that’s lets me zone out and forget about my day of processing TPS reports/grooming llamas/glazing teapots.”

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Hit submit too often. “I host a D&D game – I enjoy playing, but it’s also a way for me to do event planning lite, which is a great creative break and helps me connect with people.”

      1. Retro*

        Can’t agree more. It’s important to elaborate what D&D actually entails. Many people think you’re mole people who are holed up in the basement. In actuality, you’re crafting a story together and it has many merits as Alton Brown’s Evil Twin mentions, you’re planning for a campaign, working together as a team to solve problems, using a part of your brain you might not usually use, and you’re laughing!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          So very true. The best games I’ve played have turned into community story-telling…. improv theater without an audience. Especially when a player comes up with an unanticipated option and the game-master rolls with it!
          And ABETwin the idea of saying *why* you pick that answer is something I will try to remember. Thanks.

          1. pnw dweller*

            yes! D&D is the best. I’ve only been playing for a bit less than 2 years and it’s the highlight of my month. It’s like the ultimate escape room, but it lasts longer and you aren’t following a formula (I have never done an escape room but would imagine there is just one way out?). Maybe D&D should be the new leadership retreat model.

        2. No Tribble At All*

          Saw an Onion article titled “Local Satanic parents disappointed to find that D&D is just improv and math” :)

      2. Minocho*

        I literally used Dungeons and Dragons to work on improving my social and leadership skills.

        Being a DM is like being a team lead. You’re supposed to control the game, but you have to have social buy in to accomplish anything, and there are some social problems that have to be solved. It appeals to my storytelling side, my math and statistic nerdery, and I draw all of my characters, so it touches on a lot of my interests.

  4. Jennifer*

    I’m glad Alison recognizes that some people are more careful with their answers in interviews depending on their employment status and financial situation. If that’s not an issue for you, by all means, be yourself, but if you really need a job, I’d keep my answers more generic.

    1. Myrin*

      I was gonna say – I’ve been meaning to specifically mention for a while how much I appreciate Alison’s very sober view on issues like this, especially compared to many people – not even advice columnists, really just people in general – who always seem to want to give overly positive advice which might help to make you feel better in the moment but which might not be terribly realistic longterm.

      1. Jennifer*

        I agree. Advice for people that actually live in the real world. A good amount of people are living paycheck to paycheck.

    2. Barefoot Librarian*

      I agree with this. Sometimes it’s worth buttoning up a bit about your quirks if your financial situation demands it. We all have to live!

    3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I agree. While most interviewers are just trying to get to know you, etc., there is sometimes That Person who will ask so they can be weirdly judgmental and hold it against you that with your bowling league, etc., you might have too much going on outside work to be dedicated enough to the job or that your interest in whatever else isn’t a good fit for them or the company culture. Or maybe if they aren’t interested in it, it’s the wrong thing to be interested in. To hell with people like that, though (unless you need that particular (or any) job for the time being).

    4. Trix*

      Yes, and for some of us, we are into stuff that’s quite unacceptable to discuss in nearly any professional context, and there is no way on earth I’d discuss them in a job interview.

      For example, I’ve led multiple workshops on particular kink activities, and no matter how nerdy I am about the topic (very nerdy!), no matter how cool the crafting component, or my handouts, or the really nice compliments I’ve received on how informative and fun the workshops were, nope, it’s way, way out of the work context no matter how relevant to my presentation skills.

      Also, even outside the interview situation, there are things your colleagues and employers don’t need to know – leaving aside the TMI aspect, some will use anything “unusual” as ammunition.

  5. Heidi*

    For a long time, I thought that it was necessary to have a “virtuous” answer, like working at a soup kitchen or playing the piano at nursing homes. Now that I interview candidates myself, I think we’re just looking to get to know people better and maybe discover we have something in common or a valuable connection for something outside work. One of my colleagues sells pies, for instance, which is handy for those occasions when I am in need of pie.

      1. Goliath Corp.*

        I had a coworker who was taking a baking/pastry program at a local college and it was the best 6 months of my professional life.

        1. allathian*

          I have a coworker whose wife went to a culinary school to learn baking/pastry. He’d bring all her coursework for us to eat during our coffee breaks. He is on a gluten-free diet (celiac) and you wouldn’t believe the wonderful gluten-free cakes and pies she baked. Yumm.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Yep – nearly every interview, I’ve answered with going on trail rides with my horse, and they’ve all then told me how many people onsite also have horses, how cool is that? Have you found a barn yet?

      I would like a colleague who sells pie. I am happy to trade knit things for food.

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      For a long time I didn’t know what to say because frankly, I’m boring. And I’m fine being boring! But boring isn’t something people (positively) remember you for after an interview. But I also realized that sometimes something mundane sounding can still be unique enough to show a little personality and make you slightly more memorable.

      My current go-to for this question is that my boyfriend and I like to try new beers and play cribbage. Cribbage is not exciting (well, to most people) but it’s definitely not something you hear every day. I get awesome responses to this. It sounds fun and niche and makes me interesting when really I’m just in a brewpub playing a card game our grandparents played lol.

      Maybe you like to find crazy documentaries or re-watch shows from your childhood on netflix (instead of just “I watch TV”). Maybe you host amazing board game nights. These are chill things that with the right adjectives that make you relatable and sound like someone with a personality.

        1. cleo*

          I grew up playing both of those! (I’m going to guess you’re from the Great Lakes region – I was born in Chicago and grew up in Michigan). Playing Pinochle with my grandmother was so intense – not exactly a blood sport, but she was an excellent player and expected the rest of us to keep up with her, even the kids. There’s really nothing like playing games with three generations of family.

          1. willow for now*

            Pinochle in Chicago for the win! We played so much that when I first saw the word “pinnacle” in print I thought it was an alternate spelling of Pinochle and pronounced it as such.

            1. SS Express*

              I thought “pinochle” (pronounced “pin-oakle”) that I’d read about in books and “peanuckle” that I’d heard about on TV were two completely different games until I watched The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with captions a few months ago.

              1. From a card game obsessed family*

                Oh my god, my family plays “peanuckle” but no one else in our area has heard of this game! Thanks to your comment and writing it as “peanuckle” (which is exactly as we pronounce it) I was finally able to trace it’s origins via the American variant. Turns out we’re just in the wrong part of Germany, that’s why no one knows it here.

                My family only ever plays the 2 player variant. Its mind blowing to me that there are 3 and 4 player variants (and that those are apparently standard?)

      1. TardyTardis*

        Our family plays combat UNO. You don’t take turns, you just slap down cards and may God have mercy on your soul.

    3. Jay*

      Are you trying to say that there are occasions when you are NOT in need of pie?!?
      Because you and I have very different outlooks on life…….

  6. OrigCassandra*

    If DnD seems a bit much in context, “playing games with friends” or “hosting game nights” is pretty anodyne. If they want to assume that’s board or card games, that’s okay.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Anybody who tells me they do interactive theater, my brain automatically interprets that as LARPing.

    2. pamela voorhees*

      I work in a conservative field, and when I told a coworker I host game nights, she couldn’t have been more condescending. If you’re in a field that demands it, “I like to keep up with the news” or “I like to cook” is much much safer.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      That’s what I was thinking. If you’re unsure about it just say reading books, and hosting game nights with friends–if you want them to see you as social without getting into the details.

  7. Brett*

    Interviewers can also use this question to probe for ways to show their company is a good fit.

    My brother was a global ranked player in a certain video game. He signed on with a company that not only has internal tournaments in that particular game, but has a league with other companies. (The company gave him a champions belt and robe to wear to the inter-company tournaments.) He definitely ended up with a good fit as a result of this bit of information.
    Cricket is huge in my company. Anyone who expressed an interest in cricket, I’m pretty sure we would be trotting out information about our cricket league and the number of employees we have playing highly competitive cricket outside the company. And it would mean we could get someone connected to the cricket league and tournament quicker (whereas some people don’t know and miss it completely their first year.)

    1. SweetestCin*

      Yes. The fact that I mention that I coach youth “Go Sports Ball” literally made the interviewers do a full stop and tell me about how many people at this company participate in “Go Sports Ball”, the company “Go Sports Ball” League, and the charity work associated with a foundation related to “Go Sports Ball”. And overall, it probably didn’t hurt me in the least!

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Cricket: When I first started studying early (i.e. 1850s – 1870s) baseball, I quickly realized that there was a lot of overlap with cricket. Like any red-blooded American sports fan, I knew nearly nothing about cricket, and most of what I did know was wrong. I concluded that this wouldn’t cut it, so I started showing up at local amateur cricket matches. It helps that I am comfortable being the only white guy there. The players would look startled when I walked up and watched. One of them would come over to me, probably thinking “Maybe he’s Australian,” until I opened my mouth and spoke. But once they got over their surprise they were very friendly. They have this fond dream of cricket going mainstream in America. This isn’t going to happen, but they see me as a harbinger of hope.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Off Topic, but the US is looking at a bid to co-host a World Cup with the Windies.

        Mainstream might be pushing it, but it’s a quickly evolving market for cricket in the US.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          “Mainstream” is pushing it right over the edge and watching to fall into the abyss. The thing is, the US is so large and so wealthy that even a niche sport can be pretty big. We sent football (soccer) sides to the World Cup pretty consistently, well before it was something that the typical American sports fan followed.

          Soccer has finally, after decades of trying, managed to become semi-mainstream in American sports culture. That is starting from a much larger foundation than does cricket. Soccer is the big thing in many parts of the world. Cricket? India and Pakistan. Maybe Australia? South Africa? Sadly, no longer in Britain, compared with football.

          Cricket in America is almost entirely played by immigrants from south Asia. There are a fair number of them, and many are well to do. This is ample to keep it going indefinitely. But mainstream it ain’t. Or, to put it another way, co-hosting the World Cup with the Windies? This places the West Indies on equal footing with the US. Good for them! I root for them in test match play. But it isn’t an argument for the US as a cricket nation.

    3. Jake*

      This is my experience with employers who ask that question too. They are trying to sell the company or location. I interviewed someplace and said I liked to paintball, and they talked about a couple nearby parks they’d heard of.

      One time I said boardgames, and I was pointed to the local boardgame shop, which had never even been a thing that existed in my previous locations.

      I think this is less about assessing the candidate and more about trying to find out if they can point out something positive regarding that hobby relative to the company and location.

      I think non generic answers are the key to this being useful.

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes! My department head is proud of our football/soccer nights, to combat the lazy/sendentary stereotype attached to the IT department. (Nobody told him about the high injury rate, though)

      1. Brett*

        Yeah, we have an annual charity tournament, and the injury rate is crazy high. So much so, that our workplace safety department new sends out a warning about properly stretching and warming up before playing in the tournament.

    5. TardyTardis*

      In some parts of the American South, slowpitch is a women’s baseball game. In Arkansas, it was played by so many the churches had their own league.

  8. Penny*

    I remember in one interview when I answered truthfully (baking, embroidery, reading, puzzles) and my interview said that those were all isolated activities so would that mean I don’t enjoy working in big groups. I’d never had this reaction before had to quickly elaborate how these were group activities that I enjoyed doing with friends and that I did work well in a team in a professional setting. It really threw me off. So now I try to do a mix of everything.

    Personally, in terms of geeky stuff, I love cosplay and going to comic conventions but I don’t mention those hobbies in interviews. I prefer for those geekier activities to surface once I have the job.

    1. Naomi*

      I think most interviewers would think that answer was fine. Your interviewer was reading too much into it, like a milder version of hiring managers who think they can Sherlock Holmes something about your personality by asking what kind of tree you’re most like. If an interviewer wants to know if you work well in groups… they can ask about your work in groups!

    2. Just J.*

      I’m being a bit snarky today, but your interviewer was a dolt. I’m introverted but have a forward facing job. You better believe I want to do isolated activities in my spare time.

      I agree with Alison, when I ask interviewee’s this, it’s more of a get to know you question and also to see how quickly you answer and I want to see that you have interests outside of work (work-life balance). I don’t really care what the answer is.

      BTW, I want to learn antelope training, Alison. Where can I sign up for that?

      1. vampire physicist*

        Ditto on all of this! I actively like working with other people …and then going home and doing something fun but solitary.
        I can’t remember what I said for my first ever job interview, but once you’re on your second job, provided your previous positions have involved examples of working with others I think you should be able to make that clear and yeah, this interviewer sounded inexperienced at best

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Yeah – sometimes you really have to explain why it is that you enjoy a hobby, esp. to people who have a preconception about it. There are all kinds of knitting groups, for example – it’s not just grandmas or expectant mothers.

      I moderate a forum on a well-known knitting website, I participate in a regular social group of people who knit, I learned to knit and then spin using a range of online training and in person. I’ve done quite technical knitting projects.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Don’t these people just feel like they will come up with something negative to say no matter what we say??

      Who would even see that pattern there? Once in a while I’d get tossed a curve like that and I’d catch myself thinking, “You wouldn’t say that if I wasn’t young or female.” I’d just figured you had worked around people all day and this was your way of winding down from your work day. That’s actually a plus in some ways.

      FWIW, I had a friend who was afraid to be by herself. Ever. At any time. Hence she never did any of those things. Being with people or working with a lot of people can go to an extreme in the opposite way also.

    5. boop the first*

      To be fair, if you were interviewing for a job where they were worried it wouldn’t be social enough and that you’d be bored just working alone all day, it would have been a total plus.

  9. Barefoot Librarian*

    I worked a job for years where I told people I had “game nights with friends” (code for D&D) and “went camping a few times a year” (code for LARPing) and honestly I didn’t hate the job but I never felt like I could be myself and talk about what I’m excited about. I now work at a college where I run D&D games for students on the clock and my yearly summer convention — be it GenCon or DragonCon — is sacrosanct. I can fake being mundane very well but it makes a huge difference to be open about your hobbies with the people you spend a large chunk of your waking life with. My current coworkers are so supportive and accepting that I’ve just pretty much decided it’s worth being open about these things going forward if and when I interview for jobs.

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      That being said, I completely agree that you’re financial security is a HUGE consideration. If you need a job and have to downplay your geekiness then it’s a small price to pay. It’s just really awesome when you can get both.

      1. Retro*

        So sorry if this is considered off topic!

        Barefoot Librarian, have you ever hosted D&D games for younger children, like late elementary school kids? A friend of mine is trying to start a program at a local school and would be interested to know how to host sessions for kiddos? What is it like hosting for college-aged adults?

        1. Barefoot Librarian*

          Oh I can talk D&D all day long!

          Hosting for college kids is a mixed bag. I get some kids who are very mature and thoughtful but I still get a lot of adventuring murderhobos with few social skills lol. A handful of my kids every year are on the spectrum which can come with its own set of challenges. I wouldn’t trade it for anything though. The guys and gals who struggle the most out of the gate are often the ones who bloom the brightest a year or two in.

          Since simplifying the rules and character sheets isn’t such a big consideration with college kids, I focus on coaching them through social interactions and building team mechanics. I’ve learned that a session zero to talk about house rules, how the characters know each other, and why they are adventuring together is a MUST. I used to have them all make characters with me before the game started and come up with creative ways to introduce them in game, but it works SO much better if they approach building their parties as a group activity. All expectations (them towards me, towards each other, and what they can expect of me as their DM) have to be clear and consistent. I want their experience with me to be fair and fun above all. Beyond that, everything will take longer than you expect. If an adventure says it’ll take an hour, I budget three!

          I image all of that will apply for school age kids too! There’s a great deal of discussion on Dungeon Master Academy about DMing for younger groups ( Their reddit group is fantastic as well. As for resources, do a search for “simplified” or “kid-friendly” on DMsguild and you’ll find a ton of amazing stuff (some of which I’ve even used with newbie adult players) including simplified character sheets. You can always start off basic and add more detail as they go. I do also encourage jumping in and getting some dice rolling as soon as they have characters because learning on the go is often easier and more fun than trying to remember a bunch of rules out of the gate.

          I’m always excited to hear people are introducing kids to D&D. It’s a wonderful, collaborative social experience! I wish them the best of luck.

          1. Mongrel*

            I’d also suggest the official site, D&D Beyond. For players it has a bunch of free tools that allow you to look up rules and create and maintain your characters.

            If you purchase some books as a GM and pay a small monthly subscription you can invite people to your campaigns and allow them access to your books.

            1. Barefoot Librarian*

              Oh I forgot about DnDBeyond! I have a gold account myself so I can share all of my content with my players (I have all the source books). A lot of stuff is available for free though. They also offer a club membership which allows you to have up to 10 campaigns sharing your content.

        2. Mad Harry Crewe*

          I know I’ve seen advice about this floating around, but it’s been a long time and I don’t recall many specifics. This is definitely something that people do, though. I think just keeping the story simple and light, not expecting a lot of high-level roleplaying, and maybe simplifying the game mechanics (depending on age) would go a long way towards making it kid-friendly.

        3. Narvo Flieboppen*

          There are also much more kid-friendly RPGs. The all ages game I’ve been out and about with lately is called Magical Kitties Save The Day! Who doesn’t want to be a talking cat with magical powers, honestly?

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Also Third Eye Games makes Mermaid Adventures, and also Camp Myth, specifically for kids! Or Infestation if said kids are into gross bugs! :D

            Another game by another company (we got it through kickstarter I think) is Epillion, if you want to be BABY DRAGONS! (squee)

        4. Barefoot Librarian*

          I typed up a big response to this but it’s being moderated so if it doesn’t post by the end of the day I’ll retype! There was a URL or two in there which might have caused issues. :)

          1. Sarah*

            Completely off topic, but I have a spectrum kiddo who LOVES DnD, and my DH will often DM a game for him and two of his friends. It is hilarious because they can’t sit still. They’re up bouncing around the table and getting excited about it all. I adore it.

        5. Anon Librarian*

          Hi Retro,
          The library I work in has run one successful D&D game for people aged 12-18. It was so popular, we’ve got another one coming up in a couple of weeks (lets hope that it doesn’t have to get cancelled like many of our other events in the current crisis).
          As these are just one-shot sessions, the kids get to choose from pre-made characters, and the librarian is the DM, but I can tell you, the kids absolutely love it and have asked that it turns into a longer session, not just the short one-shot.
          I wasn’t the one running the event, but I watched for a bit, and the kids were completely immersed and were trying to help each other out by suggesting ideas if someone got stuck, which was really lovely to see.

      2. Syfygeek*

        For my current position, after accepting the job offer, I went to lunch with the people I would be supporting. I’m at lunch with strangers, know I have the job, and when I was asked “what do you do for fun?” I said that I was one of those SciFi geeks who goes to conventions and dresses up. And one of my claims to fame was doing the full Thriller dance, in a costume, with close to a thousand people to try and break a record at Dragon*Con. It was like I had found my people! Almost 2 years later, they don’t even bat an eye at my “quirkiness”.

    2. LunaMei*

      Oh yes, I’ve been “camping” many, many times. In my current job, I’m pretty comfortable with my team so I’d probably be able to share LARPing with them, but I’m still hesitant since most non-LARPing-people’s idea of LARPing is either from a movie or that “lightning bolt lightning bolt lightning bolt!” video from several years ago.

      1. Barefoot Librarian*

        I swear that video did so much damage to the LARP community. Ugh.

        I started by just answering questions about what I did this weekend with “oh, I got tapped to join a secret guild of spies” or “I negotiated a deal between two warring nations” and let them ask for more details lol. They also love seeing my costumes so that helps. People are more curious than judgmental in the academic library world, I’ve noticed.

        1. Free Meercats*

          “I spent a lot of it deeply diving into name origins and heraldic display.”

          In English: “I worked the heraldry consultation hut at the Estrella War.” (Though not this year.)

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            You’re reminding me I need to get my device registered with the SCA College of Heralds.

            1. TardyTardis*

              I still think the College should have accepted “Banana slugs rampant” for that one group around Seattle.

  10. Veronica Mars*

    After a recent “ice breaker” turned weirdly competitive, I’ve vowed never to ask “what do you do for fun?” again.

    Also an engineer, and was in a training class. Virtually every single male answered with some sort of physical activity, and was sheepish when they couldn’t. Most women answered with baking/knitting/reading.

    Both of those answers pretty much only serve to reinforce subconscious gender biases about what makes a given gender ‘valuable’, and neither actually tells me anything about who they are as a person at work. At least answering D&D allows me to assess a bit about your skill level as an organizer of things.

    That said, answering “volunteer firefighter” is once *the thing* that got me a job so…

    1. Sled dog mana*

      My parents next door neighbor became top pick for his current job when he let the employer know he is a competitive bagpiper.
      Absolutely nothing to do with the job but company knew the location would be appealing long term because of the large number of bagpipe competitions nearby.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Eugh, what a weird situation. Sounds like everyone wanted to “normalize” themselves. Especially among engineers — the women wanted to reassure everyone they’re still sufficiently feminine (and I say this as a woman engineer myself), and the men wanted to prove they’re still physically capable/ big and tough / not a scrawny geek.

      Was this the weirdly competitive ice breaker? I’ve seen those, where someone starts with kitesurfing and everyone else feels boring by comparison.

  11. Environmental Compliance*

    Reminds me of the question I got in a previous interview (for job I’m currently at). It was if you could have any job, what job would it be? and of course I answered something safe and relevant to the job at hand (while still technically truthful). One of the interviewers told me that was a safe answer and like literally if anything what would I pick? In that case, working with the Irwins at a wildlife sanctuary specifically with snakes because snakes are pretty darn cool.

    In hindsight, this is probably how I ended up becoming the onsite What Is This Random Animal/Insect/Plant person…

    1. Delta Delta*

      I have a very specific answer for this (which I will not state, as it would reveal me, in case there are IRL people I know who are reading this). I’ve given that answer, and I can give it quickly, and interviewers are often amazed that I a) know the job is a thing and b) how do I know about it? And it often opens up kind of a larger discussion about interests, because it is not at all connected to the work I do.

  12. Delta Delta*

    When I was job searching most recently I tried to make sure I was reading a current book. That way if they asked what I like to do, I could say, “I enjoy reading. In fact, I’m in the middle of _____” or “I just finished _____” as a space filler. They never asked, but I did get to read some good books, which turned out to be a bonus.

    I also am interested in some things that are perfectly normal, fun things, but also that people are weirdly judgy about (and will not list here). Knowing that, I like to have some banal activities I can list.

    1. SS Express*

      This backfired on me when my book club was reading the most popular book at the time: 50 Shades of Grey. Unfortunately I was young and not very experienced interviewing so even though I knew it was a bad answer, I was too nervous to come up with anything else!

      I got the job though.

  13. CouldntPickAUsername*

    it is a bit of a filter testing question:
    “what do you do for fun?”
    “I go rock climbing”
    work acceptable topic, common hobby and easy to talk about

    “what do you do for fun?”
    “I make sculptures out of animal feces”
    common hobby but probably not something to mention at work.

    It’s a mild test of your social skills.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      ….is….is that a common hobby though? Is there something I’ve been missing that people are making stuff out of poop? Is it sad that this wouldn’t surprise me?

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        There are tourist knick knacks like mosquitos made from wire and dung.

      2. JustaTech*

        There was that Mythbusters episode where they tested “you can’t polish a turd” and it turns out that there’s a Japanese craft of making super shiny balls out of mud, so they used some (sived) horse poop to make these really cool super shiny balls (with just their hands!).

        And you can build houses out of mud and horse or cow poop, so, why not sculptures?

    2. KoiFeeder*

      I mean, I have vague memories of a post about “beer” as a hobby and why you can’t use that. Also weed. Weed would be a bad answer.

        1. Mami21*

          My ex had ‘sleeping’ listed in his hobbies and genuinely couldn’t understand why I would suggest that he remove it.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        But weedING! That could be good! “I like to weed my neighbors’ front yards. It brings me closer to them, spiritually, and I learn so much from chatting with the beetles.”

        (Hmm. And not 30 minutes ago, I told a recruiter I didn’t really have any creative writing samples to show.)

  14. MissDisplaced*

    I think generally you should be yourself. However there are some companies that have a VERY health-oriented slant (for example a bike manufacturer) where they’d probably want to hear that you do something suitably outdoorsy or physical like running 5k’s, hiking, biking, skiing, yoga, gym, etc., etc.

    So, I’m just saying be aware of that if you think there is a unique culture of that particular business you’re interviewing at lest you come off as being woefully out-of-step with them.

  15. Suz*

    When I worked in the paving industry, we asked to to help make sure the people we hired wouldn’t be miserable in a job that required a lot of overtime during the construction season. We wouldnt rule out someone who’s hobbies were watersking and camping. But if it was a toss up between them and someone who said they were into snowmobiling and ice fishing, the person with the winter hobbies would have an edge

    1. learnedthehardway*

      But…. usually the person with outside activities in one season would have similar activities in another!! At least three of those activities can go together – if you go winter camping with snowmobiles and do some ice fishing, and someone like that probably spends time fishing and waterskiing at the cottage in the summer too.

      When I’m interviewing someone, I look for how big a role their hobbies play in their life. I’m more likely to be concerned if they are semi-professional than if they like to play hockey in a community league, for example.

  16. Interviewer*

    For this very reason, we’ve started asking ‘what’s something you’re passionate about outside of work,’ which allows similar answers, but also has broader answer options, because candidates can also use answers like “I’m passionate about animals” or other general interests.

    1. allathian*

      This can be awkward, because “passionate” is such a loaded word. If I’m honest, I’m not passionate about anything at all, and I don’t know if I should be sorry or glad about that. I enjoy doing a lot of things, but I’m not passionate about anything.

      1. Doctor Schmoctor*

        Same. “Passionate” sounds a bit extreme. Someone once asked me in an interview “do you have passion for {job description}?” And I answered “not really. But I find it interesting.” I don’t think that was the right answer.

      2. Rexish*

        Same. I’m not a passionate about anything. I enjoy a lot of things, but passioante in my mind takes it to an extreme that is not in my personality.

      3. Vicky Austin*

        Seriously! When I saw the word “passionate,” my mind immediately jumped to politics, as I have volunteered on a political campaign for a candidate I am passionate about. Definitely not the kind of thing you want to disclose at a job interview.

  17. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    You’ll risk being really uncomfortable if you’re already too worried to mention very basic hobbies, it’s DND, it’s not fight club.

    I think we’ve been conditioned as youth to keep our “geeky” stuff to ourselves because the “cool kids” are going to mock us. I’d rather tell them that I’m an avid pro wrestling fan who goes to events and follows dirt sheets because even if I’m desperate for a job, I’m a bad actor and if it’s going to be an actual deal breaker, LOLWTFBYE comes to mind. So you get a job and then what? They find out that you’re “weird” and “quirky” and they will still not like you if it was going to be an issue at the interview stage, it’d be an issue after they get to know you too most likely. And being a dork isn’t legally protected ;) So it’s not like an ADA issue that you are playing close to your vest until you accept an offer.

    1. James*

      I take the same approach. I mean, once you have a shelf full of skulls, bones, and dried fogs at your desk, everyone knows you’re weird. (Occupational hazard; it’s technically termed a comparison collection, and is about as common in paleontology as toolboxes are among carpenters.) If someone’s going to get rid of me for being weird, may as well get it out of the way early and avoid the issues that arise from attempts to put that stuff off.

      Plus, you’d be surprised how many other weird people there are who hide it. I discussed D&D at work, and now have a regular game with a coworker and some mutual friends. I discussed brewing with a coworker and he sold me his old equipment at a discount.

      1. Barefoot Librarian*

        “I mean, once you have a shelf full of skulls, bones, and dried fogs at your desk, everyone knows you’re weird.”

        Honestly, this just made me want to be friends with you lol.

    2. PeaceHamster*

      Those of us of… a certain age… were definitely conditioned to keep our geeky stuff to ourselves. I have a friend who came out to me in 1986–back when telling someone you were gay carried a lot more risk of rejection or at least awkwardness than it does now–but I didn’t find out he plays D&D (and played it back then, too) until a couple of years ago when he mentioned it on Facebook. :-) If he had told me that in high school we could have had some epic games.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think you may feel removed from the situation behind older now but no, high school is still awful, coming out is still dangerous in many areas and to many people all the same, even in 2020. People still get disowned and thrown out of homes, we have entire shelters for abandoned queer youth. We’re still living in the school shooting era…those of us who graduated two decades after you went to school fearing actual death to befall us at any given minute by a classmate who was mad enough.

        This is why we created sub cultures.

        It’s why we run in packs.

        I’ve seen it throughout the years. From being in the punk rock subculture as a teenager. Heard about it from my older brother who was into skateboarding when it was a “crime” and people treated those kids awfully. He got called all the derogatory names out there for not falling into line with sports. Then when he was like “okay I’ll do sports.” they told him he wasn’t welcome.

        However this isn’t school. We aren’t children. We are adults who have our adult bodies and minds, with more rights and independence who are stuck in those prisons we send kids to with staff that’s really not equip to deal with their raging emotions and hormones and bad behaviors. So yeah, coming out as an adult, when you’re in charge of your destiny is different than what we learn as youth.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          All of that is true, and it’s also true that “geek” and “nerd” were originally insults. Geek culture is a LOT more welcome than it was in past decades, what with all the superhero and science fiction movies and all.

  18. MountainTops*

    I hope interviewers are thoughtful about how their expectations about “fit” and what a good answer for questions like these are can be biased by their own background. During the interview for my current job my volunteer work for an organization came up, and it turned out both my interviewers had been part of the same organization. The thing is our organization is majority middle class and something people get involved with at a young age, so less likely that newer immigrants would be involved as adults.

  19. Richard Hershberger*

    “What do you like to do for fun?”
    “I read 19th century sports journalism and write research articles about it.”
    “Next candidate, please!”

    But seriously, if the interviewer is a sports guy, this is pretty good: more interesting (and nerdy) than “I watch sports” while having enough intersection with general sports to give me something to talk about with a general sports guy.

    1. Jean*

      “Sports” is a much safer answer than your particular esoteric pursuit. I must admit it sounds very interesting, but I’m sure not everyone would agree.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Actually, “sports” if you’re in somewhere extra geeky isn’t safe at all. I’ve had people stink face me over “Oh…you like The Sports Ball…hm, I think Jimbo likes sports but not a big thing around here…”

        Welcome to the PNW where “sports” can get you shunned faster than “DND” can in a lot of circles.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Yup. And a lot of how sports fandom is expressed doesn’t interest me. I aim to be able to talk with a mainstream sports guy and hopefully hold his interest, but mainstream sports stuff is not what I do.

      2. James*

        Doesn’t help in a sports-dominated culture either. If I said “Sports” the immediate follow-up would be “Bama or Auburn?” Which would lead to a lengthy discussion of what I mean by “sports”, which makes it appear that I’m lying to my prospective employer.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I would have to answer “Orthodox Boston Red Sox, since 1967”. And if they asked for details, I would give them. It’d be my luck if the interviewer was a Yankees fan, though.

  20. Coverage Associate*

    I have found you have to match the hobby you mention with the interviewer. I don’t think I have ever had success expounding on my ancient philosophy and literature book group. Cooking goes over well almost always, though.

  21. Thiazin-red*

    That would be fine, as long as they didn’t ask me any details about the campaigns. The first one I played with my current group, we managed to screw up so badly that the world would have been better off if we’d never gotten involved. In the current one my character is a neutral evil amoral criminal and for about five sessions I was actively working against the party. However, our record for people saved v people who died because of our screwups is actually way better.

  22. Jean*

    I love college and NFL football, and where I live/work, those (esp college) are very popular and tons of people are way into them, but if I were to move somewhere else I would just say I like sports. That works because it’s a) true and b) non-specific enough not to raise any red flags.

    If you have concerns about bringing up D&D specifically, just say you enjoy gaming. Overall, gaming is just as broad a category as sports, and just as popular a hobby.

    1. Zudz*

      My wife once told a colleague that she was going to a gaming convention for the weekend. This seemingly innocuous statement led to a multi-hour discussion about how “gaming” is no longer widely used to mean “gambling”, and that co-worker basically believed that my wife and I were gambling addicts for the rest of the time that they worked together.

      Probably a statistical anomaly, but it might be worth naming some board games if “gaming” is going to be your go-to answer.

  23. Reali-Tea Check*

    I always worry about mentioning my love of cooking/baking/crafting since I am a woman working in a strongly male dominated field. Does anyone have any thoughts to that effect? I am just curious how mentioning traditionally female activities would affect my job prospects.

    1. Anonnington*

      I think sexists and gonna be sexist. I mean, I have similar thoughts about mentioning traditionally masculine hobbies in a male-dominated field. Both can be stigmatized.

      However! Most people, even if they hold some yucky biases, enjoy seeing other people being themselves with gusto and talking joyfully about things they really, truly care about. How you say it goes a long way. Find something that will make you really happy to talk about and talk about that.

      Also! Most activities have a geeky/science side, and a physically demanding side. You could say something about, say, the chemistry of baking, or how fast you can knit. Even if it’s just a joke. Find a way to make it sound relatable for your audience.

    2. Marie*

      Eh, I wouldn’t worry about that since you aren’t trying to hide being a woman (if that’s the case). I personally would never mention anything related to family since I am not willing to disclose that I am a mom with a young child — THAT seems risky. But neither cooking nor crafting has a risk of impeding your ability to be an awesome employee.

      1. Marie*

        For the record I don’t think being a working mom is likely to impeded awesomeness either, though in truth there’s always a chance of a sick kid or whatever. If I’m not desperate for a job, I will try to screen out jobs that lack flex time, but will normally just ask directly rather than referencing my kid.

    3. Intermittent Introvert*

      I think someone mentioned qualifying the hobbies as a way to balance your strong, left brain, analytic (or however you may describe your field) activities with right brain, creative, etc. activities. They complement and strengthen each other.

    4. Maya Elena*

      I think trying to hide what you naturally like would harm you more than the small chance that someone writes you off; I’d say that the prevalence of the “FEMININE ==INCOMPETENT==LET’S NOT HIRE HER” reasoning is overstated, judging by the many math/tech/physics people I’ve known in personal and professional capacities.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Cooking is pretty popular among men too, baking and crafting maybe not so much but I honestly wouldn’t worry that much on any of it.

      If they’re sexists, they don’t need you to say “I like to cook/bake/sew”, they’re going to assume it and if that’s an issue, they’re going to already have it made up in their head that you’re not going to “fit”.

      And flipside, I have ran into sexist beasts out there that will straight up call me a liar about being a sports fan or the age old “Only cuz you think the guyz r cute, right, right?” [Personal experiences, not professional there, thank God.] *barf* If they’re actually sexists, you’re damned no matter what. They weren’t going to hire you if you’re stereotypical feminine or stereotypical “tom-boy”. They don’t like women, they don’t need a reason other than you read “lady” to them :(

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Hopefully this will give you a chuckle: I’m a guy and my answer to “Only cuz you think the guyz r cute, right, right?” is “Yes, totally.”

        I don’t understand most competitive sports, though I do enjoy rock climbing and watching freestyle skiing and biathalons.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve got that glass half full mentality, so I did smile at it, hah.

          But I also lived through my brother’s torment for not being a “sports guy” being turned into questioning his sexuality :( I’m glad that the older we get, the more guys can push back on that kind of thing.

          Everyone did a weird double take when my niece was into softball and cheerleading so it’s still lingering out there *sigh* Sports make me feel funky all over. But I can’t quit them lol.

          1. James*

            I was the guy who had his masculinity questioned. I fidget; I’m incapable of sitting still. If 8 years of Roman Catholic education doesn’t fix that, NOTHING will. And crochet is a way to fidget without being obnoxious. I’m not twitching, I’m doing something productive! Unfortunately, men aren’t “supposed” to do fiber arts. That, coupled with an inability to play sports (eye issue; turns out 3D vision is important for 99% of sports), and living in a football town, did not make childhood easy.

            My answer to why I do it is “Because I travel, it’s something I can do at a hotel, and it’s something I can do for my kids.” And if questioning continues, I mention that I started the second time I was nearly blown up on the job. If the person’s anywhere close to descent, it shuts them up. We all deal with facing our own immanent and painful mortality differently, and frankly making stuff for your kids to remember you by is one of the healthier options. And I’ve found that the really avid “alpha-male” types generally haven’t proven themselves under fire, so the fact that I have and still enjoy “girly” activities embarrasses them.

            FYI, the website “Art of Manliness” actually had a few articles about this. Turns out a lot of fiber arts–knitting, tatting, lace-making, and a few others–were done extensively by sailors back in the wooden ship days. If these things weren’t invented by men, they were certainly popularized by men. And not just men, but men willing to face red-hot iron balls being shot at them without flinching. If it’s manly enough for Pellew, it’s manly enough for me!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I knew of a male professional, very well respected, who did needle point on the side. Very Large needle point pictures. They were beautiful with frames chosen to match the theme and colors in the pictures. And he had MANY of them.

              It’s a basic human need to create. On a par with food and water. People who cannot fill that need can end up being very unhappy people.

            2. PurpleMonster*

              My husband got interested in sewing when I took it up. Now he’s better than me and makes his own shirts. (Though NGL I think all the toys and tools you can get for it are a big draw. Expensive sewing machine? Check! Overlocker? Check! Every foot known to Bernina? Check! Big dangerous looking scissors? Check, check, and check! Just about all he’s missing is a cover stitch machine and that’s just because, with our toddler, there’s realistically no time or money for one.)

    6. Reali-Tea Check*

      I suppose mentioning it really only is a benefit since I would want to know up front that someone is sexist rather than finding out down the line? And I do mention my crafting since I crochet and run my own Etsy shop and I design all of my own shop graphics and run my social media accounts which is related to my field (I do lobbying and communications). Depending on the demographics of the room, I’ll bring up that I love fishing (which isn’t a lie, just not one of my top 3 favorite hobbies).

      I’m about to have a whole lot more hobbies now that I am quarantined so hopefully some employers are into candle making.

  24. Marie*

    I have used this question to talk about some local activity that I enjoy, think hiking for a job in Boulder or theater for a job in NYC. Both are genuine interests of mine that the interviewer is likely to share or be familiar with. It’s helpful to indicate that I like where I live and am here to stay, or conversely, that I would enjoy relocating to the new city. As long as you’re honest and can actually speak about the hobby for a few minutes, there’s no ethical qualm in picking something likely to go over well with the interviewer.

    I have used D&D, by the way, for a tech job in Seattle. That went over really well, lol.

  25. Ray Gillette*

    This question strikes me as similar to “what’s your greatest weakness” in the sense that how the interviewer responds to your answer will tell you how good an interviewer they are.

  26. Former call centre worker*

    In my company’s recruitment materials, “tell me about yourself”, which generally leads to “what do you do in your spare time?” is the first question and is used purely as an ice breaker and conversation starter – it’s not scored (although I guess if you answered that you like kicking kittens or smoking crack it would probably go against you)

  27. Rachel*

    I said D&D as my hobby in an interview for a social media position at a realtor’s office and the looks I got made it clear that they were not nerds. I then said its because I like working with people instead of competing against them. The interviewer then said “Well that’s adorable” with a weird fake smile. I did not get the job. I say I like reading now when asked.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Whoa, bullet dodged. That interviewer sounds like an ass. Working with people instead of competing is a great soft skill a good employer should be screening for.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Been there, done that in interviews.

      I literally stopped applying to certain industries for that kind of reason. Realtors and lawyers are an automatic “LOL nah.” for me. Notoriously stuffy is not my style.

  28. lazuli*

    There are some ways that this question can come up in client-care related fields (esp therapy and social work, and possibly psychiatric nursing depending on the context) that’s more about “How do you take care of yourself?”, so it’s good to keep that in mind, too. I’ve interviewed several people who seemed VERY DRIVEN and my manager and I wanted to make sure they weren’t going to burn out. I think we tried to phrase it more explicitly as, “Given how intense this work can be, what do you do to recharge yourself?” or something similar. (And one of the VERY DRIVEN candidates looked completely confused by even the premise of the question, which was a good indication to us that they didn’t have the full skill set the job required.)

    1. Jdc*

      I mentioned in another comment how when I mention i run it easily turns into explaining how I blow off steam and decompress. People see it as a great thing. Frankly it’s true because it’s the only time my brain just shuts off.

  29. Name (Required)*

    Working in a creative field we always ask this because we know creative people have other creative hobbies. We ask it to get a sense of who they are, but also to ensure they have other creative outlets.

    The thing people forget about creative industries is at times you can burn out easily when you feel like your creative input is stifled (by bosses, clients, etc.) so having your own side hobby lets you “get it all out” at times. Often the people who best take it when their creative input at work isn’t valued as much as they want are the ones who do their own endeavors (hobbies, side hustles) at home as well.

  30. Wendy*

    I’m pretty open that I do pole fitness for fun. I’ve mentioned it in interviews since I started taking classes. One company was interested and asked me a some questions about. The other company came across so judgmental I think announcing I robbed banks on the weekends would have been received better. Thankfully I wasn’t in a position to need that second job.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Are you a woman, Wendy? It shouldn’t be that way, but I think if you’re a woman doing pole fitness for fun, it still carries a certain stigma with it. At least in some places. Pole doesn’t automatically mean stripper (not that there’s anything wrong with it if it were true and consensual)….but in some peoples’ minds, it does, and they judge.

      1. Vicky Austin*

        I completely agree. Stay away from mentioning any hobbies that people associate with sex work (even if it’s not sex work when you do it). Instead, say “I work out” or “I exercise.” If they ask what type of exercise you do, say, “I do a specific routine designed to strengthen my quads” or whatever pole dancing is supposed to strengthen.

    2. Wendy*

      I’m honest about it because I don’t want to work for Judgy McJudgy and have to hide a big part of my life outside work. If you’re going to judge me, I’d rather you do it in the interview stage rather than my first week of work.

  31. foolofgrace*

    For one job I interviewed at a small startup for, I had a broken leg. They asked how it got broken, and I replied I was in a bicycle accident. Little did I know but the head of the company was an avid bike rider, along with other upper-level people. I got the job.

  32. Office Grunt*

    In interviews, I’m more than happy to talk about my extensive involvement in rugby, as I can lean on my experience as a referee to show that I can keep a level head amidst conflict.

    Until I’m settled into a job, I do not bring up the fact that I play Magic: the Gathering, since for older audiences it has the stigma of being demonic, and for younger audiences it has the stigma of being played by males with little to no social skills or hygiene. However, the guy in the cubicle next to me just got a 3D printer and wanted something unique to test it, so I got a free 8-sided TarmoDie.

  33. HailRobonia*

    From what I have seen in Ask A Manager, be careful about listing hobbies that are “valuable skills.” Oh, you like baking? Make cookies for everyone! You like to sew? How about you make costumes for our “bring a kid to work” halloween party! You knit? Make mittens for our fundraiser!

    And I’m sure it’s no shock to anyone that these are stereotypically “women’s skills.”

    1. Jdc*

      Never. Ever. Tell anyone you can sew. In this day and age when so few people do, you will NEVER stopped being asked to do things. Much like how I will never tell anyone how fast i can type. “Oh but you can do it so quick”. No!

      1. Barefoot Librarian*

        This is so true. I end up repairing and altering so many things for coworkers. I made wedding dresses for two women at my last job lol.

        Truthfully I DO love to sew but it’s time consuming and sometimes hard to say no. Plus people rarely pay you what you are worth because they don’t have a concept of how much work goes into sewing, especially complex alterations. I have a hard time asking coworkers and friends for what the work is actually worth. That’s on me I suppose.

  34. James*

    The video games comment struck a chord with me. Spend an hour a day reading and you’re an intellectual; spend an hour a day playing video games and the response is “Shun the basement-dwelling neck-beard!”

    Honestly, I think outside some really obvious answers (there was a guy in our company who worked in the adult film industry in his spare time, for example) most people aren’t going to care about your hobbies as much as you think. I did Medieval re-enactment for a long time, and do jewelry making now; in both cases the response was “Wow, that sounds interesting!” and once a VP asking if he could have one of my pieces. A good place to work will accept that we’re all human, and we all like different things. And if the interviewer makes it clear that they look down on you for your hobbies, you’re probably not a good fit anyway.

    1. Jdc*

      I think a lot of people have the impression of the teenager who never leaves the house. Honestly I kind of do because I live with one who will, at 17, scream and cry if he can’t play. So it gives me a bad taste. Now I could play hours of Mario back in the day but our moms wouldn’t let that happen. So I think a lot of it goes to peoples ideas, like mine, seeing a kid just never leave the house or enjoy being a kid and only play video games. Most adults I know who play just enjoy an hour here or there and I’m aware of that but my brain remembers the kid upstairs.

  35. Drew*

    I answered a similar question in an interview once by talking about my cats. Then I proceeded to touch back on my crazy cat-ladyness throughout the interview and it was a crack up. I got the job and proceeded to turn at least one coworker on to adopting a cat.

  36. KaladinSB*

    Unfortunately, the place I live in is, as a whole, pretty politically aligned against me, and a couple of my main hobbies, while not directly political in and of themselves, are coincidentally fairly closely aligned with one end of the political spectrum. Until I’ve been working somewhere a while and know the company I keep, I do have to self-censor somewhat or risk general shunning and/or freakoutery. Therefore, that type of question gets a default answer of my secondary hobbies, which are generally more universally acceptable.

    1. Jdc*

      For some reason anytime i mention I’m a runner it gets a good response. It also comes into play when I’m sometimes asked about how i destress or calm after a difficult day. Somehow that answer covers a lot.

    2. Giant Squid*

      Are you comfortable sharing what your hobbies here? I could see that going either way…doing things for the environment or interpretive dance in a conservative area, or civil war reenactment/guns in a liberal area.

      One of my biggest fascinations is political heuristics like this. Word choice, hobbies, dress–ways that politics and subculture intertwine.

      1. KaladinSB*

        Guns in a major West Coast city, yeah. Definitely not a problem at my current job, but I’ve worked places in the past (including, strangely, a sporting goods store that SOLD guns) where mentioning I was going to the range caused a certain amount of consternation among coworkers.

  37. Lauren*

    I think D&D is a good answer… It’s specific enough to give a feel for who you are in your free time but isn’t likely to end up down any weird rabbit holes.

    This comes up for me not just with job interviews, but “what did you do last weekend” type conversations, and I hate it — The honest answer is, I mostly don’t really have “fun” I mostly spend my free time working on my creative side-hustle that is more grueling and less fun than my day job. The only real exception is “hobbies” that are sex-related. I usually say I spend my weekends catching up on projects & connecting with friends. On job interviews, I say I like camping and the outdoors because it’s innocuous.

  38. Retail not Retail*

    I said I like hiking in my most recent interview. I’d spent the previous 7 years in mountainous areas where you like… really hiked. This place is flat.

    Oh well it’s an outdoorsy job they probably were glad I didn’t say “hiding inside”

  39. Jdc*

    I think people Tend to think you’re obligated to give more of answer than you are or that it’s some test. It’s truly just a way to be pleasant and engage in a more relaxed conversation.

  40. Enginear*

    Heck I get asked this question from family, friends, and colleagues and I have to think about what the heck I do for fun lol. The days just seem to fly by. Work, come home, eat dinner, watch a show or two, sleep and repeat.

    1. Jdc*

      Same. I’ll think about what i did a prior weekend and say something along the lines of “um shop” because that’s all I did. But it was for food not fun stuff.

      1. Enginear*

        I can relate! I go out to eat for lunch and dinner usually on weekends. Then go walk around Target, Ross, and Marshalls looking at random stuff.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Truth. There have been times in my life where I dreaded that question. “Uh, well with taking care of a dying parent, I really don’t have much time. I like to read when I can.” [scratch that, try again] “Family fills up my time but I try to read when I have free time.’

  41. Tisiphone*

    Hah! Not only do I run a D&D campaign, but when I was in leadership training, I was warned there would be role-playing, so I brought character sheets. Got laughs from other group leads.

  42. Extroverted Bean Counter*

    On the topic of the merits of “being honest” – what about when true honesty reveals something protected-ish about you? For example, singing in the church choir, or going to your kid’s hockey games.

    Because if someone asked me what I do for fun, or what I like to do in my free time, my honest answer would be “play with my kids” because that is enjoyable but it is also literally the only thing I do outside of work/chores/life drudgery. I don’t plan on interviewing any time soon, and even if I was I suppose I do have my safe answer of “gardening, when I have time.” I just don’t have time, ha.

    1. Julia*

      Just “choir” or “watch hockey” seem enough here, I guess? Not sure about the kids answer, because I too hide my husband in job interviews.

      1. Julia*

        It’s not, but it could give away an affiliation to, well, church, implying that you are religious.

  43. Grand Mouse*

    Hm. So I’m an extrovert, which seems unusual for this site, so I spend a lot of time chatting with friends. Unfortunately, because there are lots of limitations with making local friends, they are almost all online. Do you think an interviewer would be judgy about that? Like do I say I use social media a lot? I guess I could spin it as “spending time with friends and family”. Is that too bland?

    My other hobbies I worry people would get judgy about. I spend a lot of time watching shows, and playing games on mobile and PC. Not exactly thrilling or high achievement. Oh, and I collect and care for pet invertibrates, which people may not know what that is, and once I do will sound weird (bugs and snails, hoping to add some shrimps soon). Been surprised at the positive reaction when I mention it socially, but interviewers could have their hangups.

    If I ever do mention playing computer games or watching shows at work, or possibly to an interviewer, I like to talk about specific ones , especially if it is one I think other people would be interested in like Great British Bake Off! Cooking/baking shows are a pretty safe bet.

  44. LV426*

    I’ve probably got some of the weirdest “fun” hobbies. I make soap, I go sheep herding with my dogs, and I take my dogs to barn hunts to hunt rats.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I once got an interview solely because I put my interests as ‘embroidery, archery and collecting Chernobyl articles’.

      This was back in 2003 and the interviewers outright said they just ‘wanted to see what you were really like’

      Apparently they liked weird as they offered me the job.

    2. Barefoot Librarian*

      I have corgis and I SO want to teach them how to herd. I have so many questions….do you have sheet yourself? Do you, I don’t know, rent them? Are there classes for that?

      1. Barefoot Librarian*

        sheep* obviously (clearly I was excited about your hobby and didn’t spell check)

  45. Rexish*

    I’ve talked about this question with my friends. We’ve come to the concusion that this question can mean anything. For some hiring managers it’s just a filler question that ou are suppose to say, for some it is genuinly trying to get to know you, for some it is a dealbreaker.

    A friend of mine is pretty sure she got the job because she shared a hobby with the hiring manager. She said that the interviewer wasn’t too fussed at first but then they got to the hobby and she had gotten more interactive. My aunt has said that she has done hiring based on hobbies. Her applicants tend to all ahve same qualification and experience and if nobody really shines in the interview she tends to go for people who are in the same hobby as her. Mainly because if you are involved in the hobby as an adult you tend to have certain qualities that are beneficial in the work. In one interview the hiring manager was an active member in community theatre and he used the interview as a recruitment event for that. It was quite funny.

  46. SageMercurius*

    I’m not a particularly manly man, but I do enjoy knitting. Like mentioned, I like to create things and make useful things for my friends. I work in librarianship where people would not bat an eyelid at me using that as my hobby. Except I also do music, LARP and DND. The problem with that question for me is that I’d have too many to list!

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      I’m a librarian too! You sound like a lot of people I know in the library world. What can I say? Our field attracts interesting people. ;)

  47. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

    “I work out with weights, then I go drink. Then I go home and I watch Tv, and I drink. I play XBox, and I drink.”

    Never failed me yet in a personal context, but probably not great for job searching…

  48. EddieSherbert*

    I’m on the board for and help run a cat rescue “on the side.” For the interview for my current job, we literally ended up spending about 25% of my interview chatting about that. Hahaha :)

    Note: I do work in a marketing, and I do a lot of the marketing management for the rescue, so it IS a pretty applicable “hobby.” People enjoy hearing about our more creative campaigns and events, and who doesn’t like (cute and well-made) a cat video?! I also do most of the budgeting and reporting for the rescue, so I can pull real data on how successful my marketing efforts were.

    But it’s also fun to throw in the ‘weird’ skills/facts I’ve learned from the animal rescue field and I almost always get questions for advice about the person-I’m-talking-to’s cat.

  49. Glen Murie*

    I’ve made the error of not being open and honest during the interview about my ‘geek’ activities like D&D and PC games, and my obsession with lowering my carbon footprint by walking and biking.

    It landed me in a job where the only thing people in the office talk about is professional sports and automobiles. Coworkers refer to me as ‘the geek’ and my managers make snide comments about my politics and hobbies. They value and respect my work ethics and technical accomplishments over those interpersonal differences, but I get a lot less slack than the people who fit in. That’s just human nature.

    Be upfront and honest in your interview. Heck, ask them if there are any D&D players around the office already! Remember, the purpose of the interview isn’t just for them to interview you, but for YOU to interview THEM.

  50. Database Developer Dude*

    It’s not outside the realm of possibility that someone would hold your off-work activities against you, so it’s a good idea to listen and look at the environment before revealing too much. I’ll generally tell an interviewer I’m into taekwondo, but I won’t automatically mention my Masonic activities unless it comes up….some people still think we’re an evil secret society and have been reading too many Dan Brown books. Better to just leave it lie.

  51. moneypenny*

    I keep it neutral with gardening, pets, travel. But if I feel a connection and think they’d be cool with it, I tell them about my more interesting ones like the ladies’ beer club I run or riding my scooter. Depends on the interviewer though.

  52. BananaSalamander*

    My favorite interview where I asked this question, the person replied “I’m writing an erotic romance novel.” Then immediately went “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that,” turned beet red and looked like they wanted to hide under the table. I responded with something about hearing those could be very lucrative to self-publish on Amazon and moved on with the conversation. When I called to offer them the job, their immediate response was “I promise not to bring up my book at work.”

    (I stopped asking that question after this interview because it was an attempt to get to know them, not something relevant to work, and I didn’t want anyone to think their answer had cost them the job, like this person likely would have.)

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