What Do You Do for Fun?

A Discussion of This Frequently Asked College Interview Question

Friends reading map in woods
What you do for fun can be unrelated to anything on your college application. Bernard Jaubert / Getty Images

The college interviewer might ask this question in one of many ways: What do you do in your free time? What do you do when you're not in school? What do you do on your weekends? What makes you happy?

This is not a trick question, and many kinds of answers will do well. If you're doing an interview at all, it's because the college has a holistic admissions policy, and the interviewer is simply trying to get to know you better.

College is about much more than academic classes, and the admissions folks want to know how you keep yourself busy when you're not doing schoolwork. The most attractive students are those who do interesting things in their spare time.

Bad Interview Question Answers

So, when you answer the question, make sure you actually sound like you do interesting things in your spare time. Answers like these will not impress:

  • I like hangin' with my friends. (Do you actually do anything with those friends, or do you just take up space on our little planet?)
  • I do Facebook in all my free time. (Whether it's Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, or some other social platform, this response is true for many students. But too much online time is a major source of poor academic performance in college, so you won't want to highlight your online addictions during your interview)
  • I like partying. (Another activity that, if abused, has caused many students to fail out of college)
  • I watch lots of TV. (Many of us watch too much TV; don't highlight that fact during your interview)
  • I don't have any free time. (This answer is true for some highly involved students, but it is an evasive answer; what would you do if you did have free time?)
  • I've been reading all of the Greek classics. (Good for you, but really? Colleges like good scholars, but they also want students who occasionally take their heads out of their books)

    You'll also want to avoid insincere answers that may be about important activities, but that clearly are not fun. Cleaning dishes at a local shelter or scooping poop at an animal rescue are admirable and important activities, but probably not fun. That said, there certainly is a lot of personal satisfaction in helping others, but you'll want to frame your answer to make it clear why such activities bring your pleasure.

    Good Interview Question Answers

    In general, the best answer to this question will show that you have passions outside of the classroom. The question allows you to show that you are well-rounded. Within reason, it doesn't much matter what you do in your free time as long as you do something.

    Do you love working on cars? Playing a pick-up game of soccer? Hiking in the neighboring mountains? Experimenting in the kitchen? Building rockets? Playing word games with your younger brother? Painting sunsets? Surfing?

    Note that this question is not necessarily about your extracurricular activities such as theater, varsity athletics, or marching band. Your interviewer will learn about those interests from your application or activities resume, and you're likely to get another question about those interests.

    This doesn't mean you can't answer with a discussion of your favorite extracurricular activities, but you should view this question as an opportunity to reveal a side of yourself that appears nowhere on your application.

    Your transcript will show that you are a good student. Your answer to this question will show that you are also someone who has diverse interests that will enrich the campus community.

    Explain WHY the Activity is Fun

    Finally, be sure to follow up your answer with a discussion of why you answered the way you did. Your interview isn't going to be impressed with this exchange:

    • Interviewer: What do you like to do for fun?
    • You: I like swimming.
    • Awkward silence

    Assume the interview is also asking you WHY you like the activity. Think how much better the interviewer gets to know you with a response like this:

    • Interviewer: What do you like to do for fun?
    • You: I love swimming. There's a lake up the hill from my house, and I spend time there every day when the weather permits. I really enjoy the exercise, and I also like being surrounding by nature. When I'm in the water it's so peaceful. I get most of my best thinking done when I'm swimming. In fact, one reason I'm interested in Wellesley College is that I'll be able to keep doing what I love in Lake Waban.

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