When you write your CV and cover letter for a job, there is a lot to think about. You need to try and align your skills and experience with those required in the job description, and ensure that you come across as polished as possible. You’ll probably check (and double check) your spelling and grammar before sending your application across, and perhaps ask someone else to proofread it too. 

The whole process is pretty formulaic and regimented. There are format guides for your CV and example templates for your cover letter. You’re told to avoid photos and inappropriate email addresses, and advised to steer clear of certain fonts. Essentially, there are strict guidelines to follow if you want to appear professional and give yourself the best chance of success.

So when it comes to including your hobbies and interests on your CV, surely this detracts from the professional vibe you’re trying to get across? Actually, this section is incredibly important! If you were to leave it out, your application would probably come across as rather dull, and void of all personality... The question is, should you include all your hobbies, even the more unconventional ones? And what do these interests say about you?

Interests and Transferable Skills

Your hobbies and interests can give a surprising amount of information - not just about what you get up to outside of work, but also how you may behave at your job. For instance, if you’re part of a local sports team, this could suggest that you’re a great team player. Or if you perform your poetry at a nearby café, that would indicate that you don’t have an issue with public speaking, and can deliver presentations at work. 

Your hobbies and interests can demonstrate transferable skills. Even something like building model trains can show a potential employer that you have patience, and an eye for detail. So including these things on your CV can allow the interviewer to get a better sense of your personality, and discussing your hobbies during the interview should make the dialogue more conversational and less formal.

Be Interesting, But Don’t Go Overboard!

We’ve discussed the advantages of including hobbies and interests in your CV, but it’s important not to get carried away. Otherwise you could end up tipping the scale in the other direction! It can be easy to overload on humour, but not everyone will necessarily see the funny side, especially as it’s more difficult to convey humour via the written word. You certainly don’t want to come across as offensive or like you’re not taking the job application seriously. 

There are three main rules to stick to when you include your hobbies and interests in your CV - be honest, keep your hobbies relevant, and try to be unexpected. In terms of honesty, there is a good chance you’ll discuss these interests in your interview, and faking a passion for something you know little about won’t endear you to the interviewer!

When it comes to illustrating relevant hobbies, these should mostly be things that have clear transferable skills, such as confidence or being a team player. While few hobbies are likely to portray you in a negative light, do keep your audience in mind. For example, if you’re interviewing for a role in a vegan restaurant, talking about your passion for leathercrafting is probably a bad idea.

It’s also a good idea to try and include at least one unexpected hobby or interest alongside typical pursuits like yoga, cooking or reading. You may not have any truly unusual hobbies, but you can always expand on a general interest slightly in order to pique the interviewer’s interest. For instance, if you’re an avid reader, you could mention your interest in a particular genre of books, such as environmental non-fiction - there’s a great chance that this will be a conversation starter!

woman with an interest in gardening holding a glass florarium

Discussing Hobbies in an Interview

While it’s likely that your interviewer will bring up the topic of your hobbies and interests first during the interview, especially if these are a bit unusual, there are a few ways you can steer your way towards these interests yourself. Sharing more information about your hobbies can make the interview more memorable, and will help give your interviewer a better sense of your personality.

Obvious questions that will lead to discussion about your hobbies are things like ‘tell me more about yourself’ or ‘what are you passionate about’. But you can also respond to questions about your greatest strength or weakness with answers relating to your interests. For instance, if asked about your biggest weakness, you could state that you’ve had issues with public speaking, but since you started performing a stand up comedy routine at a few open mic nights, your confidence has significantly improved.

The trick is to make sure that once you’ve used a hobby to illustrate an example of a transferable skill, you then use a work related example. So with overcoming your confidence issues, you could discuss a recent presentation you gave at work, and how well it was received. 

Overall, you should give some thought to which hobbies to include in your CV, and how you’d talk about them in an interview. And if you’re really not sure about which interests you should highlight, simply get in touch so we can help with your CV!


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