How to answer the interview question, ‘What was the last book you read for fun?’

Photo Illustration/Bryce Churchill

When a hiring manager asks, 'What was the last book you read for fun?' it may catch you off guard — but that might be their intention.

That's what Zachary Painter of told Glassdoor as a part of the site's 50 Most Common Interview Questions series. "This is an intended to be a curveball question," he says. "There's no right or wrong answer, but you should have an answer nonetheless."

One approach that interviewees can take is to discuss a book you think the hiring manager recognizes, can relate to or has read herself. Painter says, "You can try to relate to the interviewer by mentioning a book they've possibly read — something in your field or discipline."

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For instance, if you are applying for a marketing role, you could mention "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell and discuss that authors arguments about how to make an idea spread like a virus. Or if you're applying for a job at Facebook, you may want to talk about "Creativity Inc." by Ed Catmull, reportedly one of Mark Zuckerberg's favorite books.

No matter what kind of job you are applying for, part of your interview research should be brushing up on a book that might be relevant to the role.

This technique, however useful it may be, is not always necessary if you actually do a lot of reading for pleasure, admits Painter.

"If you genuinely like reading, explain what book you read and why you prefer to read that genre or author in your free time," he says.

No matter which approach you decide to take, Painter stresses that this question is an opportunity to tell the interviewer about who you are outside of work.

He explains, "Either way," he explains, "this is a chance for you to show some personality, so be sure to elaborate on your answer."

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