Simple question, eh?
It’s crazy how much BSers trip over it.
This is the type of question that often comes up towards the end of the MBA interview, when your interviewer is winding down from the hardcore “Why do you want an MBA and what do you bring to the table?” types of questions.
As with all things, we recommend that you tell the truth when asked this sort of thing. Please don’t go around making up lists of exotic hobbies that you’re going to trot out to impress your interviewer with.
Also don’t feel bad if you haven’t done much “for fun” in the past, oh, six months. Anyone applying for bschool tends to have a fairly limited amount of free time in the ramp-up to apps. You more likely than not have been consumed with GMAT prep, and the drinking, and then lots and lots of procrastination, and then a whirlwind of essay-writing up to the deadlines (and then more drinking once the deadlines were passed). And maybe somewhere along the way you may have done a road trip to visit some schools. In all of that hullaballoo it’s likely that any so-called “hobbies” and “interests” that you have nurtured over the years fell by the wayside.
However it’s also likely that you made up something-or-other to fill in the blanks in the school’s application when they asked you something similar. So go back to that and see what you wrote.
Whatever you tell your interviewer should not be radically opposed to that answer.
If you neglected to mention your interest in naked skydiving into volcanoes in your application, then we suggest you don’t bring this up in your MBA interview.
So that’s a start. Everything you say in the interview needs to add up to the picture you painted in your app. If there are disconnects – and this goes for more than simply a question about hobbies – then you’re likely going to shoot yourself in the foot.
Another possible stumbling block is simply what you might say about your interests. If you padded out your resume or your app dataset with some references to volunteer work that aren’t really so substantial (or recent) then you could be walking into a self-made trap if you bring that stuff out in the interview.
Expect that every answer you get may prompt a follow-up question from your interviewer.
If you tell the interviewer that you do all this charity work, then be prepared for them to say “OMG really? That’s my favorite organization! I was just there last night. Isn’t Mary the best? I just love working with her.”
And you’re sitting there going, “Mary??” Who’s Mary??” Because you had no idea that this interviewer-person who’s grinning across the desk from you was awarded the Volunteer of the Year from this organization and is responsible for single-handedly making them the charity that they are today.
Or even more basic: You tell your interviewer you’re training for a marathon, and the next question is, “Oh cool, which one?” – you’d better know which marathon you’re training for.
So the basic guidelines of “don’t make stuff up” and just as important, “don’t inflate the truth” apply in spades when you’re having an actual conversation with an actual person. Should be obvious but we’ve seen people get in real trouble on this.
The other advice is, talk about recent stuff. Not only stuff that you literally really in fact honestly do, but stuff that you’ve been doing lately. It’s OK if it took a backseat during your application efforts, but hopefully in the weeks since deadlines have swept through, you’ve reassembled your regular life again and have started to resume normal activities. Those are the things you need to be using in answer to this sort of question.
These types of questions are sincere attempts for the school to learn more about who you are.
If all you do in your spare time is read historical fiction, or watch zombie movies, or if you’ve never missed a home game for your favorite team, then that’s the answer to the question. If you’re training for a marathon, then that’s the answer to the question. If the answer is, you are into homebrewing, or you knit, or you collect comic books, then that’s the answer to the question. Whatever you do for fun is the answer to the question. Don’t think you have to manufacture some image of this ideal MBA applicant person in order to get in. The adcoms want to know about YOU.
Simple answers are totally legit. Don’t overthink this.
Our MBA interviewing guide contains many more tips and tricks on how to prepare for this all-important occasion. You may want to pick that up, and you can also check out a slew of other interviewing resources on this site. We are hearing of many interview invites being extended and we wish all of you great good luck on your interview!
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