Interview Tips

How to Answer: What Is the Last Book You Read?

By: Mariah Rogers
Apr 17, 2020 • 6 min read

How to Answer: What Is the Last Book You Read?

Asking about recent reads is a common question many interviewers will ask. Sometimes this question will be phrased as “what book would you recommend that I read?” Or perhaps, “tell me about your favorite book.” If you are not an avid reader, do not fear! Here is how to craft a response that is genuine, intelligent, and insightful.

book you have read

What Is The Purpose?

Talking about books with a potential employer – what is the purpose of this? What are they really trying to find out? There are a few differing opinions on the matter. First, this could simply be a conversation starter. The interviewer wants to get to know you a little bit and is curious about what kinds of books you read. Another purpose of this question could be to see how well-read you are (in other words, how many books you read, and what kind). In some corporate environments, being well-read is really important to the company.

Take Time To Prepare

Regardless of the purpose behind the question, we will help you to answer it to the best of your ability. Having a quick summary and keynotes from your book of choice at the ready can be an extreme advantage during your next interview. The truth is, you can choose to talk about any book you have read in the past, not just your last read. Carefully explore options available in the literary world and find ways to professionally talk about them. If you’re having trouble deciding which book to bring up in conversation, this is the blog for you. Keep reading to learn how to answer: what is the last book you read?

Choose a Book You Have Actually Read

While in theory, it might seem like a good idea to do a quick google search for a complex and scholarly novel, it is best to choose a book you have actually read. Simply reading the SparkNotes version will not give you the ability to intelligently summarize the book and have a conversation on it. What if that happens to be the interviewer’s favorite book, and wants to talk more about it? Nope, better to be honest, no matter what book you choose. Maybe choose a book that shares a little bit about you as a person. If you are interested in airplanes, pick a book that focuses on aviation. If you are a history geek, choose a book that focuses on the era that you are most interested in. This is a great way to spark some interesting conversation and help the interviewer get to know you better.

Example: My father was a piolet so I have always been interested in airplanes. The aviation-based novel I just completed inspired me to get my piolet’s license!

Or: To be honest, I’ve always loved cooking books. I enjoy simply reading them to learn about different recipes and techniques. I read them as someone else would read a novel! 

Why these are good responses:

  • You are sharing a unique personal fact about yourself
  • These responses sound genuine, truthful, and personal
  • Further conversation might spark from your responses

book you have read

Choose a Book That Teaches a Lesson

If you are still having trouble finding the perfect book to talk about, and are not an avid reader, find a book that teaches a lesson. Pieces of literature that are based around morals, values, and lessons will show your interviewer that you strive to learn. Being interested in growing and learning new things is a great trait that is very attractive to many interviewers. Try looking into The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. You can order yourself a copy off Amazon, here! If you like reading YA novels, try to think about one that you learned something from.

Example: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People has helped me uncover methods to work more productively in a team-based environment. 

Why this is a good response:

  • Choosing books that specifically focus on teaching the reader show that you are willing to learn
  • Shows that you have a growth mindset
  • Communicates that you are committed to teamwork

Find a Success-Based Read

Another fabulous topic you can search for when finding a book to discuss in an interview are success story-based reads. These can be autobiographies or short stories of triumph in any area that interests you. For example, you can choose a book that tells the story of a successful businessperson, inventor, athlete, or artist. Stories that focus on success are a great way to show your interviewer you strive for the best. It can also be a great way to segue into talking about your own personal success stories. If you are looking for a book that is sure to get you inspired, check out Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. You can find the link to order yourself a copy on Amazon, here!

Example: The book Grit by Angela Duckworth inspired me to never give up on any task I set my mind to. The success stories in this book inspired me to go back to school to finish my undergraduate degree. 

Why this is a good response:

  • Shows that you learned something from the book you read
  • Communicates that you have been impacted positively
  • Segways into sharing more accomplishments and strengths

book you have read

What if Books Are Just Not Your Thing?

For some people, the thought of finishing an entire book seems almost impossible. If your most recent read was not a book, that is okay, too! Be honest with your interviewer if you prefer to spend your time reading other types of writing. If you are interested in poetry, for example, you can talk about your favorite poet. If you are a movie fan, speak about a script you have read recently and films you have watched that were inspired by your reading.

Even if your answer might sound a little unconventional, it will help your interviewer get to know you and discover if you are a good fit for the company. Sometimes revealing a hobby that is writing-related will allow you to connect further with the interviewer. Even if the only reading you do is the newspaper, that says something about your style, and you should be honest and genuine with the interviewer!

Example: I enjoy reading poetry in my free time, my favorite poet is Edgar Allen Poe. His poetry inspired me to begin writing poems myself. 

Why this is a good response:

  • Shows your genuine interests
  • Does not seem fabricated/lets the employer know more about you
  • Gives you a unique competitive edge to help your interview stand out

More to explore:

  • How to Answer: What are your pet peeves? – here
  • How to Answer: How do you boost your confidence? – here 
  • How to Answer: What salary expectations do you have? – here 

If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to impressing your interviewer. Do you have any book recommendations you would like to share? Let us know!

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