'I Have a Life': Employer Dragged for Wanting Applicant to Ditch Hobby

Members of a popular forum were quick to offer advice to one internet poster who explained why they were rejected from a potential job opportunity.

In a viral Reddit post published on r/antiwork, Redditor u/EmperorJJ (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said they recently had a job interview they were "really excited about" but detailed the strange line of questioning they believe ruined their chances of landing the position.

Titled, "I just got turned down for a job because I wasn't willing to give up my hobbies," the viral post has received nearly 17,000 votes and 1,700 comments in the last 7 hours.

Writing that the position they interviewed for pays well and comes with "extensive benefits," the original poster said their interview went well until they were asked about any commitments they have outside of the workplace.

"I do community theatre in my free time," they wrote. "It has never gotten in the way of my work schedule."

"I love the theatre, it's my whole social life. I even make a little money on the side designing for shows," they continued. "When the interviewers asked what I did in my free time, I told them, and explained how many of my professional skills are easily applicable to the local theatres."

Despite their insistence that their outside obligations have never interfered with a job, the original poster said they were then asked if they'd be willing to leave the theatre behind in order to focus entirely on work.

"'Would you be willing to give that up for this position?'" OP wrote, recounting a question posed by an interviewer.

"'We don't generally like when our employees have additional jobs. We prefer that this be your primary concern,'" the interviewer continued.

Following the question, the original poster said they assured the interviewer that their involvement with the theatre was not a job, but a hobby. Despite this, the original poster said they were rejected for the position and questioned the prospective employer's motives for their request.

"As much as I would have loved a better wage and more reliable job, is that what you have to give up to get a benefited position today?" they wrote. "I have to be willing to give up everything and everyone I love, the only thing I'm passionate about, the only part of my week I really enjoy?"

"God forbid I have a f*****g life or volunteer my spare time to anything outside of the office," they added.

Rejected from job for hobbies
Thousands of Redditors came to the defense of one prospective employee who said they were rejected from a job opportunity because of their hobbies. fizkes/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Employers asking applicants about their hobbies is common practice.

By asking about life outside of the workplace, employers are sometimes able to determine if an applicant is team-oriented, if they possess leadership skills and if they can set and achieve goals, according to Business Insider.

However, questions about hobbies can also allow employers to gauge how committed prospective employees will be if hired.

In an interview with Business Insider, "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job" author Lynn Taylor assured that many employers have ulterior motives for wanting to know about applicants' outside interests.

"If you talk about how passionate you are about a particular hobby to the point where it sounds as if you want to make that your primary career, that may send up a red flag," Taylor said. "Even if you claim that such endeavors have nothing to do with the job at hand, you are still raising a red flag."

"No interviewer wants to feel as if you're just trying to gain a salary or work experience," Taylor added.

Throughout the viral Reddit post's comment section, Redditors speculated that the original poster was asked about their hobbies for this exact reason and remained adamant that their rejection from this particular job could ultimately be a blessing in disguise.

"Probably a place you don't want to work, OP, no matter how nice it looked from your interviewing perspective," Redditor u/CheeseburgerBrown wrote in a comment which has received more than 3,000 votes.

"Asking someone to give up their hobbies is a toxic trait from an employer," they added. "Never mention making extra money outside of work. I think it was the additional compensation that triggered their alarm bells."

In a separate comment, which has received nearly 1,000 votes, Redditor u/waylorn offered a similar response.

"They specifically wanted to know if you'd give it up because they were clearly planning on having you 'stay late' on most or many nights, and if you had other obligations you'd have a reason to turn them down," they wrote.

"You dodged a bullet," they added.

Newsweek reached out to u/EmperorJJ for comment.