Professional interests are literally the things that interest you about your career. It refers to the aspects of your career that you find engaging, intrinsically motivating, or that you set as personal goals.
Think back about what motivated you to get into your career in the first place!
An employer who asks you to state your personal interests in a resume or interview will do so for two main reasons:
- To see if you’re motivated: At the core of this question is the issue of motivation. The employer wants to see if there are aspects of the job that get you excited and whether you have professional goals.
- To see if you’re a good fit: Your answer about your professional interests will tell the interviewer a lot about whether you’ll fit into the company and suit their needs. For example, if your interests are in technology and they’re in need of someone who is inspired by the tech side of the business, they’ll know they’ve found their person!
Below, I have listed 18 professional interests examples that could inspire your response.
Professional Interests Examples
- Innovation: You may be motivated by the idea of innovation. By stating that your interest is in innovation, you may be trying to position yourself in a company that is looking for ways to iterate and improve their products.
- Project management: You may be interested in and motivated by managing projects. This skill might be seen positively when applying for a job in a managerial position.
- Marketing strategy: You may be highly motivated by working on marketing projects. This may be the thing that interests you about your chosen profession. This interest is ideal for those looking to work in marketing, advertising, or public relations.
- Creativity: You may have stepped into your career (and be applying for that job) because the industry appeals to your creativity. This might be a good fit if you’re applying for a design job, for example.
- Problem-Solving: The thing that interests you about your profession may be that it allows you to solve big problems. If you use this example, you’ll be signalling that you’ll be looking for work that requires (and encourages) your strength as a problem-solver.
- Helping People: In many careers, like policing and nursing, a genuine career interest for people is to simply help people. If that’s what motivates you to turn up to work every day, then that’s probably your professional interest – i.e. the thing that interests you about your profession!
- Mentoring: If mentoring is your professional interest, then you’re likely going to be looking for leadership or teaching positions. This may be a good idea to list as your professional interest if you’re positioning yourself for a management-level position.
- Content creation: The thing that motivates you at work might be content creation. This interest might be perfect for your employer if they’re looking for someone to help them with their digital marketing.
- Networking: You may be energized when you’re networking. This professional interest might be good to mention if you’re applying for a position where you’ll be constantly searching for new clients for your employer.
- Web development: Web developers design, create, and maintain websites, combining programming skills with creative design abilities. This interest suits individuals seeking careers in tech, digital agencies, and e-commerce businesses.
- Change management: You may be interested in helping organizations navigate transitions and adapt to new situations. This skill can be essential for roles in human resources, management consulting, or organizational development.
- Research and development: You might be highly motivated by the prospect of discovering new knowledge or developing innovative solutions in your field. This professional interest could be appealing for roles in academia, scientific research, or cutting-edge industries.
- Leadership: Your professional interest may be rooted in guiding and inspiring teams to reach their full potential. This skill can be an asset in various management and executive roles across industries, where strong leadership is crucial for success.
- Career advancement: You might be highly motivated by the prospect of personal and professional growth within your chosen field. This interest demonstrates your ambition and drive, which can be valuable in fast-paced or competitive industries that offer opportunities for upward mobility.
- Technological improvement: Your passion may lie in harnessing cutting-edge technologies to drive efficiency, optimize processes, or develop innovative products. This interest would be well-suited for roles in tech, engineering, or research and development.
- Making a difference: You may be inspired by the idea of contributing positively to society or the environment through your work. This professional interest can be appealing for roles in NGOs, social enterprises, or organizations focused on corporate social responsibility.
- Creating sustainable workplaces: Your interest could revolve around promoting eco-friendly practices, energy efficiency, and waste reduction in the workplace. This skill would be a strong fit for positions in sustainability consulting, facilities management, or environmental compliance.
- Developing processes: You might be motivated by the challenge of designing, implementing, and refining efficient systems or workflows. This professional interest is highly relevant for roles in operations, quality assurance, or business process management.
- Social change: Your passion may be centered on addressing pressing social issues and promoting equity, diversity, or inclusion. This interest would be well-suited for positions in advocacy, public policy, or community development, where you can make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
Reasons Employers Ask this Question
Try to get into the employer’s head. If you know why they’re asking the question, you can give a much more tailored answer for them.
Have a think about some of these potential reason employers want to know your career interests:
|Job fit||Understanding your professional interests helps the employer determine if you’re a good fit for the role and the company. They want to ensure that your interests align with the job responsibilities and the company’s goals, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and better performance.|
|Engagement and motivation||When an employee’s professional interests align with their work, they are likely to be more engaged and motivated. This can result in higher productivity, better work quality, and increased likelihood of staying with the company long-term.|
|Growth potential||Knowing your interests allows employers to identify your potential for growth within the company. This helps them determine if they can provide the right opportunities for you to develop professionally, which benefits both the employee and the organization.|
|Team dynamics||Understanding the professional interests of all team members helps the employer create balanced teams with complementary skills and interests. This can foster better collaboration, innovation, and overall team performance.|
|Cultural fit||Your professional interests can also give insight into your personal values and work style, which is essential for assessing if you would fit well with the company culture. A good cultural fit often leads to a more positive work environment and higher employee retention rates.|
|Personalized career development||By understanding your professional interests, an employer can tailor your career development plan, offering relevant training and development opportunities that will help you achieve your goals and grow within the company.|
Other Interests (and Hobbies)
You may also be able to blend your personal interests and hobbies into your answer, especially if you can apply your personal interests and hobbies into your professional life.
An example of this might be fitness. Your personal interest might be fitness, and that might also be an integral part of your job as a surf lifesaver. So, you could blend them and talk about how you’re so interested in this profession because it blends your personal interest into your profession.
Some interests and hobbies may include:
- Reading books and biographies
- Investing in the stock market
- Running marathons or other endurance events
- Learning new languages
- Public speaking such as toast masters
- Writing blog posts
- Collecting vintage or rare items
- Social entrepreneurship
- Participating in hackathons
- Experimenting with new technologies
- Creative writing
- Self-education online
Professional interests aren’t just hobbies. They’re the things that are the core of your passion for your career. They demonstrate what it is that gets you excited about what you do.
By demonstrating that you have clear professional interests, you are also demonstrating that you have a ‘spark’ – you are interests, intrinsically motivated, and you have set yourself goals. You’re going to turn up to work wanting to get things done! This is the goal of your response to the question “what are some examples of your professional interests?”
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]