Identifying the interests and activities that you pursue outside your work and studies can help you to learn more about yourself, including the roles and situations you enjoy.
It may help you choose between career options, and can provide you with great examples of your behaviour and actions to use with employers in the recruitment process, both in applications and at interview.
The employer perspective
Employers do care about your interests, but not for their own sake. They're looking for evidence that you will suit the post they are recruiting for. The best way they can do this is to look at examples of your actual, rather than predicted, behaviour.
Your interests are concrete ways of demonstrating your preferred ways of working and behaving. They reveal your personality, your values, and your behaviour preferences.
For example, you may say that you would love to work in a team, but, if you have no proof that this is true, an employer may be skeptical about your claim. However, if you can give an example of your teamwork, even if it doesn’t relate to a workplace team, the employer can feel more confident about your assertion.
In some cases, employers will expect you to evidence particular interests. For example, if you want to be a financial adviser, you will need to show how you keep informed, whether that's through the financial newspapers, bulletins from finance organisations, or even your own investment in the stock market.
What counts in a work setting
Interests and activities can be defined as anything that you have done outside the strict limitations of your course or paid work.
Obvious examples include:
- leisure activities
However, interests and activities can also include:
- voluntary work
- care or other work within the family
- political activity
- membership of clubs and societies, including taking responsibility for organisation or committees within such clubs
- positions of responsibility on committees at your university.
Identifying your interests
Most of us would like an interesting job. Interests are, of course, very personal, and two people may be interested in the same activity for quite different reasons.
For example, you may like watercolour painting because you enjoy learning new techniques and experimenting with colour in your evening class, while your friend may paint because they like to spend time alone outside looking at and reflecting upon what they see.
Use our worksheet to reflect on your interests:
26 April 2017
Use this worksheet to outline your interests and map these to different areas of work.
When identifying your interests and activities, you should think about the reasons for that interest. It is not until you think further about how and why you do things that you'll begin to have some real evidence about yourself.
If you don't have any interests
If you enjoy socialising, but have done little else, try analysing your social activities. How do you socialise? Are you an organiser, a peacemaker or a friend to everyone?
Perhaps you enjoy studying, and put in more time on this than other students do. What is it that you enjoy? Can you list any extra study or activities you’ve undertaken connected with your degree? You might like to spend some time studying the available materials on the transferable skills gained with your degree.
Perhaps you have little spare time during term. What do you do during the holidays? If you like to get away, then perhaps travel is an important interest for you. Or maybe you simply have more time during the holidays to pursue leisure activities. Just because you can’t do them all year round doesn’t make them less valid.
If you'd like to talk through the best careers to suit your interests, contact us:
Careers and Employability
- Telephone:+44 (0)29 2087 4844