It seems that in modern recruitment, the question about your hobbies and interests on a job application form, is almost as inevitable as the questions about your employment history. Most of the time it can appear like a vacuous mandatory question which has no real link with the job itself. Consequently, in a rush to get the form finished and out of the way, many do not give it the time and thought it deserves.
But don’t be mistaken, that question is not a filler, it could well offer the lever which will get you the interview. Many companies are now saying that in acquiring a cultural fit within an effective team, hobbies and interests are as important as experiences and qualifications.
Hobbies say a lot about your deeper personality, hidden talents, background learning, inner drives and motivations. They act as a pointer to secondary characteristics which employers are always looking for such as tenacity, perseverance, and creativity. They can suggest strengths and weaknesses in areas such as teamwork, supervisory positons and consultative roles.
The Right Character for The Job
When you are asked at interview what your favourite hobby is, they are not making polite conversation – they are aiming to get a clearer picture as to how you approach life in an abstract way. For instance, a person who is interested in playing Chess or Backgammon suggests you enjoy, and can think, strategically. This ability is particularly useful in planning based roles and leadership roles.
Creative hobbies such as photography, flower arranging, and writing suggest that the interviewee has a flair in artistic pursuits and therefore this would back up any desire to be accepted in such roles as design, and PR.
Enjoy sport but can’t see the point of bringing it up at your interview? Shouting about the fact that you regularly enjoy team sports such as football, hockey, netball, and basketball, suggests a competitive spirit, an ability to work as a team, and focus on team goals rather than ego-centric goals.
Prefer to do your sports alone? If you are a runner, a cyclist, or a swimmer it is likely you are going to be seen as someone who has perseverance, physical prowess, and a great amount of motivation and drive. These are all fundamental assets needed in sales or a business development role.
You may think that reading and creative writing are a pretty solitary activity which does not add any essence to your overall interview pitch but the contrary is true. As well as these hobbies suggesting a creative and enquiring mind they also show that a person would excel in either the public relations or communications industries. Even more so they would have a place in marketing. Quality content and creation of excellent marketing text is intrinsic to digital marketing.
The X Factor
Where your hobbies will undoubtedly put you at an even greater advantage to the competition at the interview is if your interests are directly related to the tasks you will be doing at work. For instance, a person who enjoys messing with computers outside of office hours is likely to be keeping ahead of current technological advances. It is likely you are honing your computer skills way more than those who just do computer work between 9 and 5.
But also consider the hobbies which suggest a more abstract enhancement in skills or reflect your readiness for tasks involved in the position. It is an interesting fact that the British Journal of Therapy found that individuals who regularly knit have a higher cognitive function. Consequently, these advanced abilities are especially useful in reading patterns in codes or deciphering statistics.
This doesn’t mean, if you are going for a post in IT, you should present a scarf you recently knitted to your interviewer – but you get the drift.
If you take part in hobbies which have led to awards, trophy’s or recognition, this shows ambition, motivation and accomplishment. It also shows to your interviewer that you an all-round player who is happy where they are in their life. These aspects need to be present to be transferred to the work environment. They are assets which are pleasantly catching within a team situation. It also suggests, if you have held down a successful career previously and that you are capable of maintaining a good work/life balance.
Don’t Hold Back
So rather than answering the hobby and interests section with a few hurried words, go back to the job description and consider what character traits the prospective client may be looking for. This does not mean you are going to make hobbies up. Stating that you enjoy bungee jumping and surf-boarding may suggest you are a free spirit and a risk taker, but it is going to get you into hot water in the interview if the interviewer is a passionate surf-boarder too!
Consider what talents, skills and characteristics your hobbies bring out in you and match them up with the factors on the job description. In the interview do not worry about going into depth and voicing the accomplishments you have made. It shows you have passion and commitment, and at the same time you are reflecting back those subtle personality traits that could well separate you from the competition.
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