Respond to interview question: Discuss your pastimes outside of school.

Here is a sample prompt provided by Astroff on multipleminiinterview.com:

Prompt: Discuss one of your pastimes outside of school and how the skills you acquired from this activity will help you in your career.

This is very common to encounter on both the MMI and panel interviews. This question is relatively straightforward in the sense that there is no real missing information to glean or ethical issues to discuss. Here, you should think of your passions and hobbies beyond academia.

How would you begin to respond to this prompt?

The purpose of such questions is multifactorial. It’s to not only establish that you are a well-rounded applicant, with interests beyond the classroom, but also to determine what skills you have learned that may help you in your chosen field.  Most careers require individuals to have excellent ‘soft’ skills. Such skills include an ability to communicate effectively, work well in teams, lead teams and projects to completion, give and receive feedback, and look for opportunities to improve.

It may seem at first thought as though nothing you have done outside the classroom could have helped you in these areas.  But reviewing your extra-curricular activities and hobbies can often produce examples where you developed 'soft' skills. For example, if you have tutored high school students on weekends, you have refined your communication skills, demonstrated professionalism, shown an ability to mentor and deliver feedback, and developed your leadership skills. Even an activity as routine as babysitting for a neighbour can help you learn important skills that will be beneficial in your future career.

A good strategy to prepare for these types of questions is to take the time before your interview to ‘inventory’ your extra-curricular activities and passions.

  1. Review your CV, or if you don't have one, write down all the initiatives you have been involved in, including the volunteer positions you have held, and any jobs you’ve had over the years.
  2. Next, write out qualities that you feel would be important in your chosen career path.
  3. Now, start to form links between qualities (from step 2) with your experiences (from step 1).  What are examples (from step 1) where you demonstrated these qualities (from step 2)?

For example: Have you highlighted punctuality and professionalism as important in your chosen career? Perhaps you really had a chance to hone these skills the summer you worked on a construction site with tight deadlines.

In doing this activity, you not only prepare for such questions, but you will also come to be more familiar with what you have done in the past. These experiences will serve to form the base of your answers to personal questions, and also may prove to be relevant in complex scenario questions, where sharing a personal story can really help you to be memorable to interviewers.

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