Updated: Sep 22, 2020
When I was preparing for my MBA entrance examination, back in 2017, I used to look for a list of hobbies and interests for CV that could help me clear my MBA interviews. It was so difficult to figure out what my hobby was. So, if you are also in the same boat, don't worry. This post is going to share how you can answer the daunting hobbies interview question often asked in the MBA interviews.
It can be really frustrating to read B-school interview experiences and realize that everyone who appears for them has a hobby. When you look at yourself, you can barely pin-point at anything and call it a hobby. You either don't like to do anything in your free time or whatever you do is not worth calling a hobby. In either case, you don't have to worry much. The good news is that a new hobby can be developed in a span of 2-3 months.
Is it okay to say, "I don't have a hobby"?
No. This is because by definition, hobby is any activity you pursue on a regular basis during your free time. Now, if you say you don't have a hobby, it means you either don't have free time (which is rare) or you don't pursue something regularly (which raises questions about what exactly do you do then). In either case, there is some talking point, which is the main reason behind interviewers asking about your hobby.
Why is a hobby necessary?
Commonsense would indicate that it helps you in distinguishing yourself from the crowd and offers an interesting talking point during the interviews. But, there are more reasons in favour of having one:
Reveals a lot about you: Having a hobby reveals that you're a disciplined person. During your spare time, you may choose to try a variety of things. But, a hobby gets nurtured when you practice the same thing over and over again. That's where discipline comes into picture. It also reveals your time management skills. A lot of people spill over their time for hobby and end up ignoring the activity that requires more focus (could be academics, job, CAT preparation, etc.) How well you manage time to work on your hobby is a skill that gets valued by the interviewers.
Adds value to the batch: If you're a person who possesses a different skill, it brings forth a different perspective to add to the MBA classroom discussions. Hence, you will be valued more as a candidate for the MBA program. That's why applicants often run after building hobbies for MBA resume. This also means your hobby should be something unique to outshine among others (explained ahead).
You can read the hobby-based questions asked during IIM interviews. It will help you in understanding how interesting the conversation becomes if the interviewers get to know about the candidate's hobby.
Why is it that I don't have a hobby?
Think about your free time and write down what exactly you do during that time. It could be anything - binge watching, walking in a park, counting stars - literally anything. The condition is that is should be a regular activity for you. If you cannot name anything you do on a daily basis, that's your first cue to why you don't have a hobby. You lack regularity and hence you need to start over (explained ahead).
The second case could be that you do something on a regular basis but you lack depth in regards to it. For example, you might be watching a lot of TV series on Netflix during your free time. But, you're not doing anything about it - not writing a blog, not sharing your opinion, not reading up more about it, etc. In short, you know or do as much as any average individual would.
The third case and the final case could be that you think your hobby is not worth mentioning. This means you're unsure of its relevance to the MBA program. For example, cooking or fashion blogging - to this I'd say, it's good if it's relevant, but there's a reason it's called a hobby. It need not be relevant. There are ways to link it back to the MBA program and I'd explain ahead how it can be done.
How should a hobby be like?
This is fairly simple to understand. Your hobby for MBA application should be novel/unique. This is because:
It will sound interesting - It will engage the interviewers more if they haven't heard of it before. If it adds more to their knowledge, it'd be a win-win for both the parties.
It will attract lesser questions - You wouldn't want a rapid fire to take place once you announce your hobby to the interviewers. So, it should be something that makes them think more.
How to develop a hobby?
Now we've come to the most important part - i.e. how to develop a new hobby in a short span of time. The first step is what I've already mentioned above:
Write down what you do in your free time.
Next, screen for whether it is:
At this point, you have an option to nurture your existing activities or start-over and select new activities depending on how regularly you pursue them, how productive they are or how interested you are in them.
If the activity you're pursuing or wish to pursue does not tick mark any of the above conditions, there is some work that needs to be done for it to be declared as a hobby. I'll explain how it can be done using my example.
My Hobby for MBA - Ad Analysis
When I screened for what I do in my spare time, it turned out I didn't like anything particularly. I just watched TV series, read some random blogs and watched YouTube videos. So, I knew I had to start-over.
To create a list of new activities that I'd like to pursue, I just observed myself for a couple of days and tried to understand what makes me feel happy. While watching one of the YouTube videos, I noticed that I didn't skip the ad, in fact, I never skipped ads on YouTube. That's when it struck me - probably I like ads.
I started watching more ads on YouTube. That's when I came across a strange ad that I couldn't understand. I googled its meaning, found the blog AdAge and I loved how it explained the meaning of ads. In one of their posts, I read that this process of evaluating the quality of ads is called ad analysis.
I started practicing this technique through my profile on Quora. Till that time, I didn't write much on Quora - probably answers of 2-3 lines. I started writing one answer in every 2-3 days after thorough analysis of the ad. That's when I tick-marked the first requirement of a hobby - regularity.
And, slowly after about a month or two, this happened:
I got named as the most viewed writer in the advertising and the marketing topics. I also got the Top Writer 2018 award. All this didn't happen overnight. It took time, it was definitely a slow burn.
Then, I got an exposure to advertising agencies and their work - I loved Ogilvy's ads, so I started reading more about their work. I also read Piyush Pandey's book Pandeymonium, which helped me a lot. That is when I went in-depth of my hobby, I started gathering more knowledge.
And finally, to make it more relevant to the MBA program (which I repeat is not necessary, but can be done), I read some chapters on Advertising, Copy-writing, I also read David Ogilvy's book on Advertising. There are a couple of frameworks that are used in Advertising and are also taught at B-schools. So, I got to know them. Basically, I tried to cover anything that the interviewers might expect me to know from an MBA perspective.
This way, anything can be linked to the MBA program. For example, if you're a fashion blogger, they may ask you about the impressions, clicks, CTR of your blog, the niche segments it targets, how it gets marketed, etc.
Suggested Reading | What's Ad Analysis?
So, if you don't have a hobby but wish to develop one for the purpose of MBA interviews, remember that it takes regularity, depth and relevance (if you like) practiced over a certain period of time (at least 2-3 months). At the end, you only need to know more than an average individual. You don't have to become the master of that skill. This should help you prepare your answer to "what are your hobbies" question for MBA interviews.
Hope this helps. Some posts I've handpicked for your reading: