Job searching can feel very regimented: There are guidelines for resume and cover letter formats that extend down to the smallest details, such as your font choice. Once you make it to the interview stage, there’s an expectation that you’ll have prepared answers to common interview questions.
No wonder job search documents can become repetitive and formulaic, and interview answers may sound over-rehearsed.
Preparation and following job search norms are essential. But that doesn’t mean that your application materials and interview answers should be stripped of all personality. Sharing fun facts about yourself distinguishes you from the crowd, and can make you a stronger, more appealing candidate.
The Value of Fun Facts in Your Job Search
Say you perform as a stand-up comedian on weekends — sharing that detail lets employers know you’re quick-witted and comfortable in front of a crowd. That’s a useful skill for any job that requires public speaking. Even a hobby of building model trains on the weekend can showcase patience for details.
Fun facts are a path to sharing relevant abilities and transferable skills. Mentioning them also helps transition interviews from a question-and-answer format to something a bit more conversational. Fun facts can give employers a sense of your full self (beyond your in-office persona). Direct managers and co-workers are often particularly eager to get a sense of what candidates are like both in the cubicle and also at client dinners, late nights at the office, or early morning coffee runs.
A Cautionary Note: Share Fun Facts Judiciously
While there are advantages to sharing fun facts throughout your job application, experts often warn against showing too much personality or going overboard with humor. After all, you don’t want to share anything that recruiters see as silly, offensive, or just plain a waste of their time.
Here are tips for which fun facts to share — and which to keep to yourself:
- Be Honest: There’s no sense sharing a hobby or interest that isn’t truly something you enjoy or engage in. If you include "marathoner" on your resume, but haven't done one, or run in decades, it could lead to an awkward moment in your interview.
- Be Interesting: It’s fine to share typical hobbies and interests — cooking, reading, yoga, watching movies — but of course, it’s wonderful to put things that are a bit unexpected. Whatever your interest, be prepared to talk about it in an engaging way.
- Be Relevant: Always, always, do your best to relate fun facts back to the job at hand. Sharing hobbies can be a great way to show off transferrable skills — if you are part of a local hockey team, you’re likely a strong team player, for instance.
Where to Share Fun Facts on Your Resume
Your resume may be one of the very easiest places to share fun facts: You can add a section called “Hobbies and Interests” and include them there. Experts often recommend removing this section if you’re tight on space — that’s certainly reasonable advice, but including it offers interviewers an opportunity to connect on something a bit more personal than people you know in common through universities or previous jobs.
In this section, you can include volunteer experience and extracurriculars, as well as general hobbies and interests.
Where to Add Fun Facts to Your Cover Letter
Tread carefully here: Unlike a resume, there is no set section for sharing fun facts. Since cover letters are intended to make a tight, persuasive case for your candidacy, it’s a poor idea to include extraneous sentences that do not further this goal.
However, some of your interests may jive well with the job at hand. You might write, “In my role at XYZ company, I was able to reduce the time spent on drafting an annual report by 15 percent. Honestly, improving workflows is just a part of my personality anywhere I go: At XYZ Charity, I created and maintain the volunteer training schedule.”
In a nutshell, share fun facts about yourself in your cover letter only if they’re relevant to the role, and make sure the connection to the job is crystal clear.
Sharing Fun Facts During Your Interview
If you’re bored during the interview, then your interviewer likely feels similarly. That’s not a good outcome. Aim to show some personality during job interviews; sharing fun facts makes your responses memorable, and gives interviewers a full sense of you as a person.
Here are some questions where sharing fun facts — like your hobbies and interests — can help:
- What are your hobbies?
- What are you passionate about?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
The idea here is to use your fun fact as a path to talking about yourself as a worker. So, for instance, if you were asked about your greatest weakness, you might start by talking about how you’ve always struggled with discipline, but training for a marathon showed you how structure and routine could help you succeed in long-term projects. Then, you want to loop your answer back around to a work situation and show again, how you’re working to increase your discipline.
So go ahead: Use fun facts to provide a full picture of yourself, and share some engaging, memorable information about yourself throughout your application process, from your resume through to in-person interviews.