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General Interview Questions

Among an employer's general interview questions could be: What are some of your hobbies or personal interests outside of work?

Why? What business is it of theirs anyway?

You may be thinking...I finally get to talk about all the cool stuff I do outside or work. This should be easy.

Well...maybe...but be careful.

Here are the real general interview questions employers are asking:

  • Are you too focused on your hobbies and outside interests?
  • Do you have a lot of outside activities, meetings, and commitments?
  • How much time do you devote to your hobbies?
  • Will your outside commitments distract you from your job?
  • Will you drag your outside passions and activities into the workplace?

General interview questions like this can quickly get you into trouble if you're not prepared to answer them. Some folks are deeply involved in half a dozen outside activities. And some people live for these events and are almost consumed by them.

Fact: The more outside commitments and interests you have, the less attractive you could look to a prospective employer.

You might be's none of the company's business what I do in my free time. I don't care what they think.

You're right. You certainly can do whatever you want in your free time.

However, companies have learned through sad experience that when someone has a serious hobby, or other involved outside interests, they can become your focus...and your job could just be a means to an end.

True Story: Captain Randy

In a prior life I worked with a guy who was an avid boater.

I'm not talking about a speed boat for skiing, fishing, and cruising around the lake on a Saturday afternoon.

Randy had a 38 foot cabin cruiser with twin Chrysler V8 engines that slept 8 adults. He kept his boat docked on the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore at his favorite Yacht Club.

This was a 2.5 hour drive from our company location. His family of 4 actually lived on the boat most of the summer.

So what?

During the summer months Randy was like a dog in heat at work. He could not wait for the weekend to arrive.

At 4:59PM on Friday night, Randy was crouched at the side of his desk in the starting blocks waiting for the gun to go off.

As the second hand on the clock swept over the 12 and 5:00 PM chimed, Randy would sprint to his car, start his engine, and burn rubber out of the parking lot racing full speed towards Baltimore.

I'm surprised his car didn't drive itself to the boat.

As the weekend drew to a close, at 10:00 PM on Sunday night, Randy would finally head for home to catch a few winks so he could endure another torturous week of work.

So what's the big deal?

As part of Randy's job, he was required to travel 30% of the time. Most of his trips involved flying on the airlines and being out of the office for a week at a time.

It soon became apparent by examining Randy's expense reports that he was flying in and out of Baltimore.

And...instead of making sales calls on Friday morning, he was hopping the 10:00 AM flight out of Atlanta to make it back to Baltimore by noon so he could sip some suds up on the quarter deck, and catch a few rays to kick off his weekend.

Randy even charged the company for lunch.

If you asked Randy to work late or work an occasional Saturday, he didn't like it and it showed in his attitude.

I could go on and on about other annoying things Randy did to maximize his boating lifestyle, but I think you get the point.

It would be hard to put a dollar figure on the amount of lost sales our company experienced all because Randy's life ambition was boating.

You might be reading this and thinking, More power to him! Life is too short...or whatever.

The point is, very few high paying jobs today are 40 hour a week positions. Companies are operating leaner, expectations are higher, and the competition for these jobs is fierce.

This is the reality of our world today.

Employers today want committed, flexible, hard working people.

If you have too many outside interests, they will view this as a potential conflict and not hire you. This is precisely why some companies will sneak in a question about your hobbies on their general interview questions.

One simple way to avoid being asked about your outside interests is to leave them off your resume.

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