Companies invest money and many hours in filling a vacancy. So, it might seem a waste of time for busy hiring teams to ask routine, non-professional questions like, “What is your favorite sport?” Or, they might include the what is your favorite book interview question.
If you have passed the screening and background checks and are in the interview room, you could be lulled into thinking those easy questions are simply ice breakers designed to put you at ease.
That is not always so. Questions about your personal preferences and habits are frequently designed to help the interviewer to gain insight about your attitudes that have a direct bearing on the job.
Take the question about your favorite sport. If the job calls for lots of teamwork and collaboration and you say your favorite sport is fishing or golf, that could be a mismatch. On the other hand, if you claim that you’re very comfortable with independent work, you probably shouldn’t say that heavy team sports like volleyball or basketball are your favorites.
Why a Job Interview Could Include, “Tell Us About Your Reading Books”
So be on guard for Interview questions about your reading habits. Your responses can be tiebreakers in the competition for well-paying jobs. Many employers value people who read a lot because:
- Reading is the best path to self-improvement.
- Reading is a way of staying intellectually active, empathetic, and maintaining habits of critical thinking.
- Reading habits lead to better on-the-job performance and communication at work.
Likewise, avid readers bring the following benefits to the workplace:
People who read a lot are better writers.
There is more to writing than just grammar. Those who read extensively learn the syntax and cadence of good writing just by seeing it in the examples of good writers.
People who read avidly are well-spoken.
The vocabulary of literature is populated with words that don’t often show up in our oral language. Those who do not read much are rarely exposed to those words and tend to be less well-spoken than the well-read person.
Those who read a lot are emotionally intelligent.
The process of reading involves a pause and reflection. Even if the book wasn’t great, the habitual reader will consider why the book didn’t work well for them. It’s all about self-awareness, an important component of emotional intelligence.
Avid readers tend to be more creative.
The reading experience takes the reader to new horizons and towards exploring new ideas. That, in turn, is the substance of creativity and independent thought, which are valuable commodities on the job.
They are problem solvers.
Problems and challenges are the grist in the mill of both real life and the hypothetical situations conjured by authors. It’s what keeps the engaged reader turning the pages in a high-tension mystery novel. Or, the book could be a new approach to an old problem that sweeps the reader along to the aforementioned new horizons.
Constant readers are goal setters.
The challenge of reading a thick book can serve as both a short- and long-term goal for a reader. Whether the goal is to complete a chapter a day or finish the book before it is due back at the library, those habits of goal setting are directly transferrable to the workplace.
People who read tend to connect better to others.
Again, it’s about empathy and making deeper connections to fictional characters. That deeper connection without a direct effect on the reader’s life is a key to developing interpersonal skills, communications and collaboration at work.
Preparing Your Answers To Interview Questions About Books
Make sure you have read the book.
Obviously, you should choose a book you have read cover to cover. SparkNotes or a cursory review on Amazon might seem like a good shortcut, but you won’t get deep insight by skimming—and you take the risk of being found out if the book you choose happens to be the favorite of the interviewer.
Make some notes.
Before the interview starts, think about the answers to your interview questions about books. Take the time to prepare. Jot down some notes with a quick summary of the book or books of your choice. Include reasons why the book impressed you, what you learned, and how it altered or widened your experience and knowledge of the subject.
What Are Your Reading Habits Interview Questions and Suggested Responses
Question 1: What is your favorite book of all time?
Suggestion: For books to say you’ve read in an interview, choose a book that taught you something you didn’t know. If possible, the book should be related to either your academic field of study, which makes you a valuable asset to the organization.
You could talk about a recent best seller by a popular author, or you could opt for a classic or less-well-known book. Here’s a sample response to “Tell me about your favorite book”:
“My all-time favorite novel is the science-fiction classic “The Mote in God’s Eye’ by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It’s a classic and came out in 1974, and it is still relevant today. Its basic theme is humankind’s first encounter with alien life. To make a long and fascinating story shorter, the alien society goes through cycles of violence, chaos and breakdown.
“The cycles, which have been going on for centuries, have a simple, but unsolvable cause—over population as the males of their species biologically transform into females and must reproduce or die. They have overpopulated their own planet and as humans make their first contact, the aliens are on the verge of another collapse.
“What was in it for me was the notion that for some problems there are no solutions, and that a problem well stated isn’t always a problem half-solved.”
Question 2: What was the last book you read?
Choose the type of book you want to discuss. The book should be:
Fresh in your memory
Ideally, you have read the book you have read during the past year. If you are choosing one that you read some time ago, get an outline synopsis to refresh your memory.
While you can choose a work of fiction, nonfiction books tend to relate more towards professional development. Going the nonfiction route displays intelligence and maturity, as well as enjoyment of self-improvement and learning outside the work environment.
Related to your career
Self-explanatory. If you’re interviewing for a job as a marketing assistant, you can discuss a book on the most recent trends in social media and omni-channel inbound marketing trends.
If you want to give the employer a sense of who you are and what your outside interests are, choose a book that demonstrates that. If you’re a history buff, for example, describe a biographical book about a historical character you admire.
Teaches a lesson and is educational
Choose a book that is instructional and includes a moral lesson. Explain what you learned and how you can apply that learning to your job.
Referring to the brief notes you wrote about the book, answer the question as follows:
1. Briefly explain the type and genre of the book, starting with the author.
Is the book nonfiction or fiction? If fiction, briefly go over the plot to give the interviewer a frame of reference for what comes next. If nonfiction, say something about the credentials and reputation of the author.
“The last book I read was ‘Put It In Writing!’ by the late Albert Joseph. It is a ‘how-to’ guide on how to write clearly, quickly, and persuasively. Albert Joseph passed away at the age of 84 in 2013. This book became the gold standard for business writers everywhere.”
2. Describe why you enjoyed the book.
What were the aspects/parts of the book that particularly appealed to you? Again, mention some thought-provoking elements of the book, such as the characters, plot, or theme. Link the foregoing to your own personal philosophy or characteristics.
“What I liked most about the book was that it was not only an entertaining read, it had the unique value of being a writer’s reference book on the value of clear writing. The book has just what someone like me—a business writer—needs to know.
“For example, in Part 1, the author outlines his five principles of clear writing. He starts with suggestions about preferring clear, familiar words, keeping sentences shorter and simpler, and a preference for active rather than passive voice.”
3. Describe how your book relates to the job position.
This is an opportunity to connect the dots between your own skills and qualities to what the employer is looking for. If you’ve done your homework and are thoroughly conversant with the job description, you should be able to relate the book to the job.
“I see by the job description that you’re looking for someone who can communicate well in writing. The book has one nifty chapter on ‘New Writing in the Computer Age.’ Its main point is that computers help us write, but we writers have to do the hard part.”
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Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.