What you do outside of work in your spare time defines you as an individual just as much as your professional experience and technical skill set.
When you’re being interviewed for a job, don’t be embarrassed to talk about your non-work-related interests. Nobody should expect your job to be your only intellectual stimulation: cultivating hobbies is nothing but a healthy habit and while companies look for dedicated workers, admitting to have other things in life that you enjoy doesn’t exclude your dedication for the job, and it can actually show that you have good time-management skills. You find time to do things that re-energize you, which, in turn, boost your productivity and work quality. In other words, outside-of-work interests are a core component of your profile, they should complement your professional skills and experience, possibly uncovering aspects of your personality that your employer will consider a valuable asset.
Nevertheless, talking about your interests during a job interview should be done strategically. Consider the specific job you’re applying for and try to envision what characteristics the ideal candidate should possess. Think about how you can translate an interest of yours into a skill that will be appealing to the company you’re interviewing for. Maybe not all your hobbies are equally relevant, so choose to mention those that can best complement your profile and boost your credibility under the specific circumstances. For instance, if you’re applying for a quality control manager position and one of your favorite pastimes happens to be building miniatures, sharing this information with your interviewer is appropriate, as it could strengthen your profile by affirming to your attention to detail.
This certainly doesn’t mean that you should make up interests just because you think they’ll make you look better or because you heard the boss is into them! Just as you should never lie about your work experience and technical skills, and your hobbies.
Being strategic with what to say about your interests also requires awareness of the specific company culture. If the company you’re interviewing for highly values team work, see if any of your interests align with this trait. Perhaps you’re an amateur cook who enjoys hosting dinners with friends: this is something you may want to share with you interviewer, as it reveals that you’re a people person who values friendships.
Your interests play a critical role in helping you stand out from the pack: they may give you an edge on other candidates as they uncover transferrable skills the employer may be drawn to. Think of your interests as a window that can show others your added value.
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