by Alice Cresswell-Hogg | 23 January 2015
So you have all of the right qualifications, experience and necessary skills, that should be all you need, right? Well not necessarily. Your future employer has used your academic success to whittle you down from possibly hundreds of other applicants, but now comes the more difficult part for them, attempting to build a picture of the type of person you are, and whether or not you will be a good fit with the business.
It is not surprising that in an overcrowded job market, particularly where graduates are concerned, many employers are looking beyond qualifications to decide on an ideal candidate for the role. I have been asked on a number of interviews about my interests and what I like to do in my spare time - this is a good opportunity for you to show that you're passionate about what you do and talk about any interests that you have listed on your CV in more detail. They don't just show your future employer a little bit of your personality, they show you are open to new experiences and learning new skills.
There a number of different ways in which your interests or hobbies can reflect this. For example, if you have coached a local sports team then this shows that you have good leadership and supervisory skills. Or if you have recently organised a local charity event, this shows that you are able to plan ahead, project manage, multitask and stick to a schedule. You may have also been in charge of a budget as part of your planning , make sure you explain this to your interviewer - budget management is an important skill that many employers look for when recruiting for a new role.
So we've identified that your interests outside of your working life is a good way to highlight your expertise, but there are some things that you should bear in mind before you run to your computer and start updating your CV.
- Although most hobbies will help to give the employer a good indication of your personality, make sure you talk about it in a way that relates to business You may love animals - but unless you explain to them that you have volunteered at your local animal shelter in your spare time, then you're not really giving them much to go on.
- Have your hobbies led to any achievements? Maybe you've recently reached your blue belt in Jiu jitsu, or your football team have gone up a league since you joined the team. All of the above show skills that would be of interest to a future employer, so make sure you really think about how you can use your progress to highlight your drive and ambition.
- Always be honest - Saying that you're a keen runner, when the last time you ran anywhere was to catch the bus the morning before might backfire if your company decides to run the Manchester 10k or the London half marathon. If you are rumbled at the next stage, it will be an embarrassing situation for you and there's a good chance that you have just kissed goodbye to any chance of a second interview.
- Make sure it's relevant - One thing to to sure of is that the skill set gained are relevant to the role that you are applying for. Avoid generic interests such as "I like socialising” or "going to the cinema” - try and think of something you enjoy or that you done in the past that is unique and will set you apart from the competition.
What do you think? Do you think it's important to list your interests on your CV? Have been asked in an interview what you like to do in your spare time? Let us know your thoughts