Interviewing

Interview Question: "Tell Me Something That's Not on Your Resume"

August 26, 2021

Your resume is a written outline of your professional background, including the education, training, experience and skills that make you a qualified candidate. However, there are aspects of your professional identity that won’t be on your resume, and your potential employer may ask about them during your interview. Before your interview, it can be helpful to learn how to select experiences or qualities not included in your resume and relate them to the position you’re applying for. In this article, we will review how to answer the prompt, “Tell me something that’s not on your resume.”

Planning your answer to “Tell me something that’s not on your resume”

Here are some steps to take when planning how to address information that isn’t on your resume:

1. Review your resume

There may be details not included in your resume that show important aspects of your professional background. Some items might include:

Non-industry experience

Your resume features the most relevant experiences in your job search. In your interview, you can mention side jobs, volunteer roles or freelance opportunities to highlight what other accomplishments you have.

Skills

While you can create a separate skills section on your resume, it is common to list your strengths in the descriptions of previous work experiences. During your interview, you can elaborate on these skills or discuss additional abilities not on your resume.

Certifications

You may have earned various certifications to prove your technical abilities, management skills or other professional qualifications. Though you may have mentioned them on a resume or in a cover letter, you can elaborate on why you pursued your certification and how you plan to use it in a new position.

You may have a separate section for professional accomplishments on their resume, but it could be worthwhile to spend some time in your interview providing more context about how you succeeded or what obstacles you overcame.

Having hobbies outside of work can help you develop additional skills and allow you time to pursue other passions. During your interview, you can discuss how these elements make you a well-rounded and determined professional.

Special interests

Explain how you’re passionate about a specific topic, charitable cause or other interest outside of your workplace to broaden the interviewer’s perspective of your qualifications.

Related: What to Include on a Resume

2. Select items with potential value

While you can discuss a variety of qualities, experiences and skills, you can optimize your answer by picking items that present value to your prospective employer. Make a list of options to discuss for this prompt.

When reviewing your resume, select items that set you apart from other applicants and demonstrate your ability to excel in the role. Though your qualifications and expertise may make you a good choice for the role, your unique experience and perspective can distinguish you. Consider items that highlight your ability to contribute to company goals and indicate your potential growth within the organization.

3. Identify the benefits

After you make a list of potential talking points for this prompt, outline the specific value they might bring in the form of:

Skills

Many employers indicate their desired skillsets for potential candidates, so you can select the skills left off of your resume that demonstrate beneficial expertise you can employ in the workplace.

Qualities or characteristics

If your items help define your leadership style, work ethic or another professional character traits, consider discussing them during your interview to show how you can fit in at the company.

Values or passions

What you value can influence your professional development, including what industry and jobs you pursue, what career goals you have and what work-life balance you prefer. Discuss what items best demonstrate what you believe in and what drives you to seek new challenges.

4. Relate items to the position or company

Aim to demonstrate to the interviewer that you can be a strong addition to their team and will help the company meet its goals. You can provide a quality answer by directly relating your talking point to how it benefits the company. This strategy can help you focus on the most applicable items of interest and present yourself as a solution to their hiring needs.

Once you have a list of possible talking points and the benefits of each, compare them to the skills, qualifications and expected job duties outlined in the job description. Consider using the same language from the job description in your explanation to show how you can meet the expectations of your prospective employer. You can rate the importance of options on your list based on how closely they compare to the job description and focus on the ones most relevant to the position.

Tell me About Yourself
Image description

Tips on responding to "Tell me about yourself”:
1. Start by discussing your current situation
2. Work backward by hitting key points along your professional journey
3. Connect your background, interests and qualifications back to the job

How to answer “Tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume”

In your interview, you can confidently discuss items from your comprehensive list of applicable experiences, skills and other professional elements. To prepare for this prompt, you can refer to your list and study one or a few important traits or experiences. Use the following tips to craft a compelling response:

1. Be confident

Whatever your reason for leaving the item off your resume, keep in mind that it is a vital part of who you are as a job candidate. Answering this question clearly and directly will show your interviewer that you believe in your qualifications, which could make you more appealing as a potential employee.

2. Keep it brief

You can mention one item to keep your answer concise, or you can discuss two or three easily related elements. Provide strictly the necessary details when describing the experience or skill, and only elaborate if the interviewer asks.

3. Discuss what is beneficial about the item

Reference the skills, values and characteristics that your experiences provide you as a prospective employee with their company. It might help you to demonstrate the benefits with a specific example using the STAR method

4. Explain why you left it off of your resume

This optional addition can provide the interviewer insight into your valuable assets and help them understand any limitations you had when crafting your resume and cover letter. If you have a volunteer experience that wouldn’t fit on your document or a certification in an unrelated field, mention why you didn’t include them and state why they’re relevant to the position. 

Related: Interview Question: “Tell Me About Yourself” (Tips and Example Answers)

Example answers for “Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume” 

Here are a few examples to guide you in crafting a quality response that focuses on what value you offer your prospective employer.

Example 1: Unrelated experience

“One experience I left out of my resume was my time as a campus tour guide. In that role, I led group tours of prospective students and their families around the school and talked about my experience as a current student. I knew what they were going through because I had been in their place three years before. I became an expert at my college to help young people feel more confident about their future education.

Since I’m applying for a copywriter position, I chose to focus my resume on the writing and editing experiences that taught me the basic principles I use every day. However, my job as a tour guide improved my ability to empathize with others and to anticipate the needs of clients, which are essential to this position.”

Example 2: Personal hobby

“I am in charge of a runners’ group that meets every weekend for a distance run. When I first moved here, I started the group by posting a flyer at the local gym, but now I perform outreach on social media and manage the group’s event calendar. It started with just a few people, but now it’s a group of 30 diverse runners who want to be more active and healthy. I use my skills in social media communication and my entrepreneurial spirit to empower others. I understand that these skills would be highly applicable to the social media coordinator role.”

Example 3: Key skill

“I chose not to include my coding skills on my resume because this job seems more focused on graphic design and branding. However, I do have experience with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and I am interested in using these skills on various web development projects I could be assigned to.”

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