Why You Should Pay Attention to Candidates’ Hobbies and Interests

runner training for marathonThe hobbies and interests sections of resumes has fallen out of favor in recent years.  From an employer’s perspective, whether a candidate is interested in traveling, running marathons, reading or making pottery often holds little bearing on how he or she will perform on the job.  And a potential new hire’s performance and likely impact are primary concerns of any hiring authority.

But perhaps it’s time we started minding candidates’ extracurricular activities.

Focus has shifted from weighing applicants’ skills and qualifications exclusively to include considerations of cultural fit and personality, and the contents of a hobbies and interests section can sometimes speak to cultural fit where even a well-crafted summary comes up short.

A two-year study by North Western University’s Kellogg School of Management Studies revealed that hiring managers were selecting candidates for cultural fit and basing their decisions largely on the hobbies and interests featured on the candidates’ resumes.

A person’s activities and leisure pursuits offer certain insights into personality insight into personality, enabling hiring authorities to make predictions as to whether the applicant would mesh well with the existing team.  For instance, candidates with backgrounds in sports tend to be competitive, indicating higher potential for progression into managerial roles.  Consider also that employees who take an interest in fitness are also, on average, more productive in the workplace.  Avid readers are thirsty for knowledge and frequently excel as researchers.  Candidates who love to cook are often also quite creative and can readily improvise when resources are slim.

Evaluating candidates based on what they do outside of the office can be a good first step in developing a shortlist, but make sure you’re not building a team of identical candidates.  A good measure of diversity is important to drive success and innovation.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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