Re: Interview Questions

Subject: Re: Interview Questions
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 12:09:36 -0500

Now, I've been called crochety because (among other reasons) I don't believe
much in resumes, and here's a prime example: the discussion of whether or
not to use an "other interests" section. The answer has to be absolutely yes
and positively no.

Resumes by nature are crapshoots. They're shots into the darkness,
unlabeled, unfocused, an exercise in numbers and a statement of hope. To be
helpful, they have to land on a desk whose occupant is either extremely
motivated to find you, or is just a really great guy who wants to give you a
chance. Either way, it's low probability tactic, about the same as firing
off shots at random into the woods in the hope of bagging something edible.

The "other interests" section will inevitable repel some HR people and
intrigue others, according to their personalities and preconceptions. Thus,
there can't be a rule for including such a section, nor a rule for what to
put there. It's far too uncertain, like choosing a character name in a novel
based on what widely scattered readers will think of it.

My advice, such as it is, would be to include such a section if you're
consciously looking for a job in a company that values such information. If
your skills are a bit weak or hard to quantify, or you just want to work for
a place that places a high priority on character, then your outside
interests may touch a cord to your benefit. Some companies are impressed
with charity work or athletic interests. Ben and Jerry's, for example, is
one company that values employee charity work. Our company is also such a
one; we look closely at the personalities of the people we want to hire, and
"other interests" can be an insight into that.

For example, we just put on an intern who was a running back in college. As
we talked, I asked him how he reacted to "busted plays" on the field. He had
the answers immediately. Around here we have a lot of busted plays, and his
reactions were comforting, because he seemed comfortable with the

On the other hand, many companies are far more interested in quantifiable
skills, and if you're wanting to be considered on the basis of your business
contributions alone, and your target companies have that culture, then
consciously leave out "other interests" to emphasize that you're seeking
work on your laurels alone, not on anything else. Ben and Jerry's might
throw away your resume, but IBM might not.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Creators of the Clustar Method for task-based documentation

>> One benefit of the "outside interest" section is that you never know what
will connect with the reader/propective employer. It's great when you have
something in common that's not job-related. You both can relax a little in
what can be a stressful situation.
>Walter...when you compose the resume, you don't want to include information
that "may" connect with the employer. It also may "not" connect and it
wasn't necessary that it be included in the first place, and it also may
connect in ways that aren't welcome. You
>want "sure-things" ...make sure that everything you put in has the best
chance of being looked at favorably without chance setting in. Granted, it
is out of your control if you include the fact that your were head tech
writer for Microsoft and it turns out that
>the reader HATES Microsoft.
>> Walter (who got his first post-college job because he'd made bagels)
>When you've never held a real job in your profession, you try for anything
nomatter how slim the fit with LOTS of verbal explanation afterwards. A
resume that has a name on the top and the rest is white paper is never
acceptable. However, as soon as you get the
>first job with an enployment history, the bagel shop becomes
history....unless you are trying for a job at McD's or BurgerKing.
>John Posada
>posada -at- faxsav -dot- com

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