Employers ask for hobbies on a job application for several reasons. Discussing a hobby can give an interviewer a way of breaking the tension in an interview and helping you to relax. Hobbies also give the employer some insight into your personality that can be helpful in getting the job. It can be difficult to craft your list of hobbies to fit a particular interviewer because you usually know nothing about the interviewer in advance. But there is a standard list of hobbies you can list on your application that will help your interview go smoothly.
If you are applying for a desk job or a job that requires you to be in the office most of the time, then listing passive hobbies is preferable. Passive hobbies include reading, writing of any kind, painting or listening to music. They are pursuits that show you are able to make use of your time while still being able to stay in one place for long periods of time.
Jobs that require you to be on the run such as an outside sales person, construction worker or insurance claims adjuster would benefit from hobbies that involve an interest in being active. You can list interests such as taking long car rides, exercising and traveling. These are pertinent to the job tasks you will be asked to undertake, and they show the employer that you have a personal interest in the job duties associated with the position.
Listing the sports you enjoy playing or your favorite professional sports team can be a good icebreaker to offer the interviewer. The thing you need to be careful of is if the interviewer is a fan of a rival team or has no interest in sports at all. A good way to combat this is to only list sports interests if you know that the company is a sponsor of the local professional sports team, or if the company sells products associated with one of your favorite sports.
If you have a unusual hobby such as sky diving, bungee jumping or you collect foreign currency, then this could be another good way for the interviewer to start off a quick personal conversation to start off the interview. Unique hobbies work well because the interviewer does not need to be an enthusiast of your hobby to find it interesting. For example, the interviewer may not be a skydiver, but the idea that you are one could interest her and cause her to use it in the interview.