Sometimes when you are applying to a college or for a job, there is a question like, “Describe a hobby you had as a child.”
At first glance, you might not consider this to be a relevant question. Why would the organization care about something your childhood so long ago? However, there is actually a lot of depth to it.
Why Is This Such a Popular Question?
Your answer to this question will provide the interviewer with a little more information about who you are. This can be a great opportunity for you to form a connection with the organization or the college institution.
The organization receives hundreds of applications, and this question can make the applicant stand out. As a child, you picked up a hobby and stuck with it because you had a genuine interest and passion about something.
Perhaps you had a natural talent, and you engaged in a hobby that gave you a chance to apply it and explore that further. One of those interests probably stuck with you into your adulthood and laid the foundation for your desire to pursue a college degree in that subject area or in the career path that you chose.
So, how would you answer that simple, but loaded, question? Let’s address that question in a college application.
For College Applications
First, consider the college or degree program that you are applying to. Besides academic achievements, what kind of qualities are they looking for in the applicant?
Try to identify a few, then look back at the hobbies that you engaged in as a child and see which ones reinforce those qualities.
If the childhood hobby is still something that you are currently engaging in as an adult (at a more age-appropriate level, of course), that would be even better.
Related Reading: Hobbies Ideas for College Students
For example, let’s suppose you are applying to the engineering degree program at a university. As a child, did you like to create things with LEGOs? Did you like to build models?
If so, highlight that. Talk about the projects you built that stood out. Talk about the excitement you felt when you received your first set and how good it felt when you completed your project. Elaborate on what fascinated you about that hobby.
If you are still engaging in some form of that hobby as an adult, segway into that and make the connection to the college program that you are applying to. What is it about the childhood hobby that kept your interest alive all these years?
As you are writing about this, always loop back to the degree program and explain how this is relevant. The interviewer wants to see if you have what it takes to succeed in the program.
If he senses passion and drive in this hobby, and you are able to make a strong connection between this hobby and the degree program, you give yourself a better chance of getting accepted.
For Job Applications
What about for job applications or interviews? The same approach applies here, too. The interviewer has probably received dozens of applications from candidates highlighting their experience and skills.
So, this question about childhood hobbies is not so much about your job experience, but it is more about what makes you tick. That can say a lot about how well you will fit into the culture of the company.
Let’s go back to the example of your childhood hobby building models, and the job position is for an engineer. What qualities does a successful engineer possess? What hobbies are engineers interested in?
A few of these might be: a desire to innovate and create, a sense of curiosity, aptitude in solving problems, openness to change and always seeking ways to improve, attention to detail, logical and analytical thinking, and more.
So, when you think back on your childhood days building models, how did those qualities come into play? Pick a few of those qualities, and illustrate an instance when you applied them.
For example, maybe you modified a feature in a model kit because you thought the design would be better with the modification. Maybe you built a model that had hundreds of pieces, and it took you months to build, but you finally finished it.
Perhaps you have a funny story to tell where your father had a prebuilt model, but you decided to take it apart because you wanted to find out how it was built, and you rebuilt it. You get the idea.
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How To Answer No Matter What Your Hobby Is
The above examples are illustrated by just one type of hobby, but you can apply that approach to any hobby. The key is finding a connection between that hobby and what you are applying to. The more relevant it is, the better it looks on your application.
To wrap this up, here are some final tips to remember:
- Always keep the application requirements in mind – It won’t help your case if the interviewer cannot see the connection. Illustrate how your hobby played a role in who you are today and how that is relevant to the job or program degree.
- Be honest and genuine – Don’t make up stories that are not true because you do not want to compromise your integrity and ethics by not being honest.
- Bring your story to life – Add humor if you can. Try to think of a funny story or experience that you had with the hobby that is relevant to the job. Don’t forget, the interviewer is reviewing hundreds of applications, and you want him to remember yours.
- Do not be indifferent – If you felt like you had a boring childhood with no hobbies that you stuck with, try to talk about things that you at least tried that can highlight your positive qualities.
- Stay positive – Try not to talk about failures unless it is to illustrate how you overcame the failure and made a strong comeback.
A question about your childhood hobbies is not a frivolous question. It is a strategic way for the interviewer to get some insight on you. Take advantage of this chance to make your application shine and stand out from your competition.