Companies are increasingly hiring for a cultural fit. This means they look for candidates who will gel with the company vibe, in an effort to increase company-wide harmony and therefore performance. Asking you about your hobbies is a great way for potential employers to identify your soft skills without having to directly ask. One complements the other and helps to round you out as a strong talent.
This doesn’t mean companies are looking for people to all have the same exact strengths and weaknesses, but rather how a group of individuals can combine different skills and points of view, to form a well rounded team. This also doesn’t mean you need to have specific hobbies for specific jobs, just having an interest that you are truly passionate about can help break the ice at interviews and give hiring managers a snapshot into you as a person.
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Hobbies: be honest but clarify
Don’t make a hobby up, be honest about what you enjoy and why, being careful to explain what you personally get from the activity. It is important to translate this to the hiring manager as, for one there are too many interests that exist for someone to automatically understand what you are talking about, and for another because even if you say a common activity, you need to be prepared to dispel pre-conceived notions your interviewer may have about the activity.
For example, if your hobby is gaming, you don’t want your potential employer to think that you are a shut in who is unable to communicate with others. You could highlight team games you take part in that require excellent coordination and communication to win, or if you wanted to show your analytical skills, how you plan and strategise for success.
If you take part in activities just to destress that’s great too because it shows you can manage stress in a healthy way, whether it be through exercise or your favourite TV show.
Soft skills: why they are important
Soft skills relate to how you work, particularly how you interact with others in the workplace. This can include creative thinking skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, empathy etc.
Hiring managers look for candidates with soft skills because they are a reliable marker for workplace performance. In fact more than 80% of HR professionals believe that teamwork, respect, integrity and reliability of a candidate are extremely important in hiring decisions.
You should include your soft skills on your resume along with your hobbies, but the best way to show off your soft skills is to demonstrate them at the interview stage. This is what hiring managers will be looking for, so don’t think of making up skills you don’t have.
If you believe you lack soft skills required for your potential position, start working on them! A great way is to find a course that can teach you what you may be lacking, but if not, continue to read or watch free online resources to help better yourself.
Hobbies and soft skills: the combo knock out
Together your hobbies and soft skills complement each other, helping to first build up a mental picture of you, and then back up that picture at the interview stage. If you have worked hard on yourself it shows. If you have poured yourself into a hobby, you will have stories to tell, and that shows too.
Asking about your hobbies may simply be an innocent icebreaker at your next interview, but with proper preparation and attention, it can be the ace up your sleeve, to not only getting the attention of your employer, but also demonstrating why you and you alone should secure the job.
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