Should I include an "Interests" section on my resume/CV?

Sara's Career Tip of the Month

Hi there! I'm Sara Ayazi. As a career counselor here at the Office of Career and Professional Development, my goal is to help you navigate your career successfully! Each month I write a bite-sized tip on commonly asked career-related questions. You can visit the archive of all of my tips. Or, to receive these monthly tips via email, sign up for our email list.

Career Counselor Sara AyaziThis month’s tip is on whether to include an “Interests” section on a resume/CV. There are a number of different opinions on this topic.* An “Interests” section is optional, and can be included if you have room on your resume/CV. I believe it is one of the most underestimated sections. The “Interests” section can help set you apart from other applicants in several ways:

  • It can showcase how you have been able to use a skill that is relevant to the employer/residency program. For example, manual dexterity is an important skill in certain fields/specialties. You can impress an employer/residency program by highlighting experiences outside of your clinical training (e.g., playing violin, fine woodworking) where you have been able to further enhance this skillset.
  • You can include personal accomplishments that illustrate highly covetable character traits such as determination and persistence (e.g., running a marathon, starting a podcast).
  • It gives an employer/residency program a better understanding of who you are. Many employers/residency programs want to learn more about what you are passionate about, including activities outside of your training. This section gives them a unique view into you as a person, and can help them identify shared interests to discuss in an interview.

If you decide to include an "Interests" section, here are three tips:

  • Be specific: The more specific you are, the more likely you are to make an immediate connection with the employer/residency program. For example, if one of your interests is taking photographs, include the style of photography that you enjoy (e.g., landscape, architectural).
  • But be brief: This section generally includes 3-4 interests and is approximately 1-2 lines. It is commonly one of the last sections on your resume/CV. For example: "Interests: Fine Woodworking, Contemporary Ballet, Landscape Photography"
  • Be comfortable discussing your interests: Questions about your interests often serve as an icebreaker during employment/residency interviews. Just like any information you include on a resume/CV, be prepared to further elaborate on your interests.

If you are currently working on your resume/CV, I wish you the best of luck. For more support on this topic, feel free to make an appointment with our office.

Want more tips on resumes/CVs? Check out my tips on how far back to go on your CV, and how to highlight accomplishment statements.

Until next time!

*There are multiple opinions on including an “Interests” section on a resume/CV. If you are unsure of how it would be perceived in your field/industry, check in with your mentor or advisor to get their insights!


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