Not only do hobbies have the potential of making you better at your job, but they might just help you get a job too. The hobbies and interests you include in your CV or job application form will say something specific about you to the hiring manager. So if you just mention watching films or travelling as your hobbies, you’re missing a golden opportunity to emphasize those aspects of your personality that are relevant to the job you’re applying to. In the same way that you would tailor the rest of your CV and cover letter, you should think hard about which hobbies and interests you include.
Before submitting your CV or application form make sure you do your research – it might take a little bit of time, but the information you gather will be invaluable, and will enable you to customise your job application form and hopefully put you a step ahead of the competition: re-read the job description to make sure you understood the personality traits that the hiring company is asking for. Take a look at the employee profiles on their website, and research the company on social media channels and review websites. What values do they stand for? What is the work culture like?
While researching your interviewer you might also come across their hobbies and interests, and with a little bit of luck you might have one or two in common. At the very worst you’ll have something to chat about before the interview to break the ice.
So which hobbies and interests should you include?
Be unique by being specific. Easy if you provide a description: Watching 70’s Italian spaghetti western films is better than just watching films.
Include those that are related to your skills and field of work.
Be honest – always the best policy.
Certain topics, such as sex, religion and politics should be avoided.
But above all be relevant to the personality traits and competencies needed:
Team sports such as football, basketball and rugby can show that you excel at teamwork. If you help run the team that you’re a member of, or even better you’re the captain, can help demonstrate that you have leadership skills.
A passion for puzzles, crosswords or chess demonstrates that you’re an analytical thinker with problem-solving skills.
Social hobbies such as volunteering would have necessarily led you to develop communication skills and the ability to connect with people from all walks of life.
Hobbies and interests are a good way for other people to get to know you, so make sure that the personal interests you list in your application are relatable and unique. Employers are looking for people who will fit in with their company, and your personal interests will help them understand if you are the type of person they require.