Answering “Tell Me Something That Is Not On Your Resume”

August 19, 2023

tell me something that is not on your resume

In the world of job interviews, some questions are as predictable as they are important.

One such question that often catches candidates off guard is, “Tell me something that is not on your resume?”

This seemingly innocuous query is actually a strategic move by interviewers to dig deeper into your personality, skills, and experiences.

Here, we’ll explore the importance of this question, identify the skills to highlight and provide sample answers for various situations.

The Importance of “Tell Me Something That Is Not On Your Resume?”

While your resume provides a snapshot of your qualifications, education, and work history, it can’t encapsulate the entirety of who you are as a candidate.

The “Tell me something that is not on your resume?” question serves multiple purposes in an interview:

1. Assessing Creativity

When confronted with a question that assesses your creativity, you’re presented with an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think outside the box and generate innovative ideas on the spot.

Employers value individuals who can approach problems with fresh perspectives, as this can lead to novel solutions and a competitive edge in any industry.

Your response to such a question reflects your capacity to adapt to unexpected situations, showcasing your mental agility and resourcefulness.
It’s not merely about providing a cookie-cutter answer but about revealing your ability to craft something unique and exciting about yourself that sets you apart from other candidates.

2. Revealing Personal Traits

While answering a question that delves into your creativity, you also have the chance to unveil a range of personal traits that can significantly influence your suitability for a particular role.

Your response can indicate your level of self-awareness, as you must understand your own strengths and how to leverage them creatively.

Additionally, it can showcase your communication skills, as conveying your creative ideas effectively is essential.

Authenticity is another trait that can shine through in your response, as employers appreciate genuine, honest, and transparent individuals who are comfortable sincerely showcasing their creativity.

Thus, beyond just highlighting your creative abilities, your answer can provide a window into your character and personality.

3. Highlighting Relevant Skills

The question about creativity isn’t just an exercise in abstract thinking; it’s an opportunity to bring attention to skills and experiences that might not fit neatly on your resume but are nonetheless valuable for the specific job you’re applying for.

Many roles today require adaptability and the ability to tackle unique challenges.

Your response can serve as a platform to demonstrate how your past experiences and skills can be applied to the current job opening, even if they seem unrelated at first glance.

For instance, you might draw on experiences from volunteering, hobbies, or previous jobs that have honed your creative thinking or problem-solving abilities.

By doing so, you effectively expand the scope of your qualifications and present yourself as a well-rounded candidate capable of contributing in diverse ways.

Crafting a thoughtful response to such questions can set you apart as a candidate who not only thinks creatively but also understands the broader implications of creativity in the workplace.

Which Skills to Highlight for Tell Me Something That Is Not On Your Resume?

When crafting your response to this question, consider the following skills and traits that employers often appreciate:

  • Problem-Solving: Share a situation where you had to resolve a complex issue or find an innovative solution.
  • Leadership: Discuss a time when you took the initiative or led a team, even if it was outside a formal leadership role.
  • Communication: Highlight an experience where your communication skills made a significant impact, such as presenting to a large audience or mediating a conflict.
  • Adaptability: Mention a situation where you had to quickly adapt to change or learn a new skill.
  • Passion and Drive: Talk about a personal project or hobby that demonstrates your dedication and commitment.

How to Answer It: What Can You Highlight?

When answering the “Tell me something that is not on your resume?” question, follow these guidelines:

For the Content

  • Keep It Relevant: Ensure that your response is related to the job you’re interviewing for or highlights skills and qualities that could benefit the company.
  • Be Genuine: Share something authentic and personal. Interviewers appreciate sincerity.
  • Showcase Diversity: Pick something that adds a unique dimension to your candidacy, distinguishing you from other applicants.

For the Structure

  • Brief Introduction: Start with a concise introduction to set the context.
  • Narrative Approach: Tell a short story or provide an anecdote to illustrate your point. This makes your response engaging.
  • Impact and Outcomes: Describe the impact of the experience and any positive outcomes that resulted.
  • Connect to the Role: Explain how this non-resume item relates to the role you’re interviewing for, emphasizing its relevance.
tell me something that is not on your resume

Sample Answers to Tell Me Something That Is Not On Your Resume

Here are some sample responses tailored to different situations:

For a Senior Role

“I’m an avid mountaineer, and a few years ago, I organized a successful expedition to climb one of the world’s highest peaks. This experience taught me invaluable leadership and teamwork skills, as well as the ability to make crucial decisions under extreme pressure. These qualities have served me well in my previous senior roles, where I’ve led teams through challenging projects and achieved remarkable results.”

For a Candidate with No Experience

“While I may not have formal work experience, I have always been passionate about volunteering in my community. Last year, I volunteered with a local nonprofit and spearheaded a fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal by 30%. This experience taught me the importance of connecting with people, setting and achieving goals, and being adaptable in a dynamic environment. These skills are directly transferable to this role.

For a Marketing Position

“Outside of my marketing background, I’m an amateur photographer with a growing Instagram following. Managing my photography page has honed my social media marketing skills, including content creation, audience engagement, and data analytics. I’ve found creative ways to grow my audience and enhance my online presence, which aligns well with the innovative marketing strategies this company is known for.

For a Software Developer Position

“In my free time, I’ve been working on a personal coding project – developing a mobile app that helps track and reduce energy consumption in households. This project has not only allowed me to enhance my coding skills but has also deepened my understanding of sustainable technology solutions. It reflects my commitment to innovation and sustainability, which I believe aligns well with the forward-thinking culture of this company.”

For a Project Manager Role

“I have a strong interest in art and have curated two successful art exhibitions in my spare time. Coordinating these events required meticulous planning, budget management, and excellent communication skills to collaborate with artists and sponsors. It was a great opportunity for me to apply my project management abilities outside of work, and it demonstrates my ability to handle complex projects efficiently.

For a Customer Service Representative Position

“In addition to my customer service experience, I am fluent in two languages and have been offering translation services for a local community organization. This experience has improved my communication skills, empathy, and cultural sensitivity. It allowed me to connect with a diverse range of people, a quality I believe is crucial for providing exceptional customer support in a multicultural environment.”

For a Data Analyst Role 

“I’m an avid board gamer, and I organize and participate in tabletop game tournaments in my spare time. This hobby has honed my analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail. I’ve also learned to adapt strategies on the fly, which I find similar to working with data analysis – the ability to pivot and make informed decisions based on changing circumstances.”

For a Sales Position

“In college, I was a member of the debate team and competed at the national level. This experience taught me the art of persuasion, effective communication, and the ability to think on my feet. My debate background has been instrumental in my sales success, helping me build rapport with clients, address objections, and close deals effectively.


In conclusion, that is how to answer, “Tell me something that is not on your resume.”

By preparing thoughtful and relevant responses, you can leave a lasting impression on interviewers and increase your chances of landing the job that best suits your talents and experiences. 

Remember, it’s not just what’s on your resume that counts, but how you communicate the hidden gems of your candidacy.

Always be prepared for your interview by learning how to answer the common question “Why should we hire you?”

Diane Wong