How to Answer the 'Tell Me About Something NOT on Your Resume' Interview Question

Published: Oct 25, 2018

 Career Readiness       Interviewing       

You know your resume forwards and backwards. You know how to answer the strength question and the weakness question, and you've done your research on the company you're interviewing with and have a few questions to ask your interviewer in your back pocket for the end of your interview. But what are you going to say if you're interviewer asks you to talk about something NOT on your resume? Or, put another way, what will you answer if your interviewer asks, "What's something I should know about you that's not on your resume?" If you don't know what you're going to say, you better start preparing an answer now, because this question is more common than you think.

And so, to help you craft your own unique response to this question, here are three ways you can go about answering it.

1. Stress a strength or skill that's essential to the position (and that's not on your resume)

First, it's important to remember that this question, like any you receive in an interview, is posed in order to see if you have what it takes to fill the particular role you're interviewing for. So, every answer must come back to why you are qualified and would you would be a great person for this specific job. That said, your resume is typically not the place where you just list all of your strengths; not every trait and skill of yours will be evident through your resume. Which is where the answer to this question comes in. This is your time to stress something that the employer wants in a new hire (which you might have gleaned from the job posting or the interview itself).

For example, if this is a role that requires you to work in a team setting and solve problems (which most positions do these days), and it's not explicit on your resume that this is a strength, you might stress your strength of idea-generation in a group setting and/or helping others to improve their ideas. You might say something like you thrive in brainstorming sessions and, maybe more than offering your own ideas to problems, really enjoy and are good at helping others to refine their ideas.

Alternatively, if there are specific skills that this role requires that you don't have on your resume, you might mention those. These could be as concrete as Excel, Instagram, or writing skills, and as abstract as creativity, a drive to put out better and better work, or a passion for using new technology to solve problems. Whatever you say here, make sure that it's true, that it will help someone perform well in the role, and it is not on your resume.

2. Talk about a volunteering or extracurricular experience that you can relate to the position (and that's not on your resume)

Your resume shouldn't contain everything about you. In fact, you want a lot of white space in your resume so it's easy to read and only has the essentials. Too much on a resume can be overwhelming and make a hiring manager pass you up.

And here's how you can use white space to your advantage: In anticipation of this question, don't list every part-time job, club, and volunteering activity you're involved in. By all means include some, if they're very relevant, but not all. And then, when you're asked this question, you can pull out that left-off item and talk about that.

For example, if the role you're interviewing with requires you to manage and lead a small group of people, you might talk about that NGO that you volunteer with, the one where you've taken on a managerial role, organizing and producing several fund-raising events. Or, if the role requires a highly competitive spirit, you can talk about how you've always had a healthy competitive spirit and, lately, you've been running marathons and continue to challenge yourself to beat your previous times.

3. Mention something you accomplished at your current job that's so recent it's not on your resume

Chances are your resume is at least a month out of date. That is, between the time you submitted your application and the time you actually interview at least a few weeks have passed. This means that you could have a lot to talk about that's not on your resume that's related to the role you're interviewing for.

For example, you might have led a team to solve a major problem in the past few weeks, launched a new product or service, or revamped an existing product. Whatever that thing might be, make sure it's targeted toward the specific role and make sure you'll be able to talk about it for at least a few minutes. You definitely don't want it to be something that you just state and leave hanging out there ("Oh, last week I did X ... [dead air] ..."). You want to state the thing, then back it up with details.

So, you might say something like you were on a team of writers, designers, and technologists that were tasked with updating several web pages, and just this past week that project crossed the finish line, the pages are up and running and working well. You might then say that it wasn't an easy project, there were many hurdles to overcome (perhaps listing one or two if interesting and relevant), but we did overcome them, and as the leader of the team that did X,Y, and Z, it was especially satisfying. And then you end on something like: And I hope to do more of this—working on and leading challenging projects—in this role, if hired.

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