If you’ve applied for a job before, it is likely that you have seen the question “what are your interests or hobbies?” on the application or have been asked it in an interview. It might seem trivial at first, but hobbies and interests are great ways to stand out on paper and can provide the possibility of revealing common interests with an employer during an interview. Many people get thrown off by questions about hobbies or interests or are not sure how to answer and although the question might seem like a trick at first, there are ways to turn it in your favor. One way to be prepared to answer these questions is to practice your answer in advance by thinking about your hobbies and how they relate to the job you are applying for. Talking about how you watch television or hang out with friends outside of work is most likely not a relevant or related hobby whereas an interest in reading and writing can probably be more applicable. Try writing a list of all of your favorite activities that come to mind and compare them to the job description provided by the company or employer and match activities by relevance. Here is a brief example:
Analysis of Landscaping Position
|Hiking, jogging, exercise||Work Outdoors||Mid-High|
Based on this example you can see how someone’s interest in exercising and spending time outdoors can be a relevant topic of discussion for a landscaping position because of crossover attributes between the activity and job description. In this example, it can be surmised that the activity of ‘hiking, jogging, exercise’ is a good example and could be used on an application.
There are also some pretty handy tricks to adding a preview of your hobbies and interests on your resume that employers might notice such as including study abroad experience, extra-curricular involvement, and volunteer history. Although these are subjects that should be on your resume anyway, it is important to note that these are topics that may be brought up during an interview. Although you might not reiterate these items on an application to avoid redundancy, you should still be prepared to talk about them in the event that an employer asks. From my experience, an employer might ask these questions primarily for one or two reasons including, but not limited to the following:
- Employer might be personally interested in the hobby or share their interest
- Employer recognizes relevance between the activity and position you are applying for
A good rule of thumb to determine relevance is to think about whether it makes sense to describe your hobby and end with you explaining why you believe you would be a perfect candidate.
Important side note: this should go without saying, do not lie about your hobbies and interests. It is much more difficult to elaborate on an activity that you have no experience with.
This article further explains how to determine relevance when considering your hobbies and interests in an employment setting. Remember that having activities and hobbies is a human trait that is shared differently by everyone and that it is impossible to imagine what life would be like if hobbies did not exist. Knowing this, you should be able to identify your own hobbies in your life and begin to connect them to your work life.