Talk About Something Not on Your CV

Scholarship Guide Talk About Something Not on Your CV Question Mark

There are many reasons why such a question is asked at an interview. Your potential employer may be interested to know more about you and how much you know yourself. They may want to get a sense of your personality, goals, passions, interests, and what drives you. It can also be an assessment tactic to find out what topics you would choose to bring up when given the opportunity to talk about anything. In some cases, it is a question meant to catch you off-guard, check your presence of mind in a difficult interview situation, and verify if you know what is or is not written in your CV.

If you do not know what you are going to say, better start preparing now. This question is more common than you think. And even if you are not specifically asked to talk about something not on your CV, being prepped with talking points in your mental archive minimises the chances of being dumbfounded at the interview. Here are a few ways you can go about tackling the question:

Soft Skills & Personal Qualities

All questions in an interview are directed to find out if you have what it takes to fill the position. So, every answer should be about why you are the ideal candidate. 

You would have listed your core skills on the CV. These skills are most likely to be specific hard skills that can be demonstrable in a measured way, such as copywriting, coding, statistical analysis, product design, etc. You may possess all the technical and knowledge-based abilities required for the role, but the same goes for your competition. Also, the new normal includes a lot more remote work, meaning that soft skills and unique personal qualities are more important than ever.

Soft skills shape how you work on your own and with others, and personal traits are the intangible aspects of your identity and temperament. For example, you can be a great communicator, collaborator, problem-solver, self-starter, or quick learner. Being resourceful, analytical, adaptable, creative, or empathetic can be your strong suit. But all these will make too long a list to be presented on the CV.

Take the opportunity with this question to show off these personal skills. Focus on relevant qualities that are beneficial to the role, relating scenarios where you have exhibited those traits and highlighting the positive results. Employers are more likely to select candidates with an all-rounded potential for the job profile.

Storytelling

A CV should never be more than three pages. For candidates in the early career phase, it can go down to one or a maximum of two pages. Be clear, concise, and compelling in your pitch, including only the essentials and not go about long-winded storytelling.

However, with the floor wide open at the interview, storytelling will never disappoint, especially on an engagement level. You can describe your journey of being what you are today, what character you hold, what inspired you, and what has been your personal guiding mantra. 

The interviewer will have a keen ear to what motivates you and what your goals are. Knowing you better can help them figure out what can drive you to be more dedicated to the organisation, whether your ambitions and passions align with their vision, and if you are a cultural fit with the team. But be careful not to be too open in sharing overly personal information. Draw a clear line between being authentic and oversharing.

About The Company

Shine the spotlight on the employer. You may have mentioned what you know about the company and why they fascinate you in your cover letter. But you can always reserve some industry facts and company knowledge to surprise your interviewer with.

If you are confident, you can share your perspectives on current market trends, recent organisation announcements and undertakings, showing that you did your homework and displaying thought leadership. You may also talk about ideas that you have, focusing on the positive aspects of the company. But be careful not to act like a “know-it-all”. Always exercise tact, curiosity, and humility.

If there is a story to tell in your prior experiences of crossing paths with the company, such as working as an intern for their supplier, learning about them through a case study in school, or going past their massive advertising billboard in your daily commute, mention them. Employers would love the attention you are giving them.

Scholarship Guide Talk About Something Not on Your CV football

The Extras

From extracurricular activities, volunteering stints, and community engagement projects, to assignments, competitions, part-time jobs, summit attendance, public speaking, co-authoring opportunities, club memberships, professional affiliations, and even hobbies—there can be a lot to talk about, but only if they add value to the role you are interviewing for.

Figure out how they relate to your strengths and abilities or connect to the position or company. For example, if it is a finance job, mentioning your personal blog about investing can be seen as a plus. If you are applying for a role that requires teamwork and thinking on your feet, pointing out that you coach the alumni soccer team in your free time may add bonus points.

Recent Experience 

From when you submit your application to the actual interview, a few weeks may have passed. Here’s an opportunity for you to talk about recent responsibilities and accomplishments that are not mentioned on the CV. You can also discuss work-in-progress projects that you feel may be of interest to the interviewer.

Checklist For Your Talking Points 

First of all, this is a pre-requisite: If it is on your CV or cover letter, do not say it. It will make you look unimaginative, or worse, as though you did not understand the question.

Whether you are relating an experience, talking about an assignment that can boost your profile, sharing your goals or a personal trait, or discussing how you can contribute beyond the primary responsibilities of the role, the talking points should meet the following criteria: 

  1. Discuss something positive. Consider how it reflects on you as a person and a professional.
  2. It should relate to your strengths and abilities.
  3. It should connect to the job, the company, or both.
  4. You must be able to elaborate on it and not come to a dead silent halt after a sentence or two. 

Finally, make sure that you maintain solid eye contact with your interviewer. Speaking with confidence can increase the chances of not making a mistake.

Good luck!