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Talking about your hobbies and interests sounds like very basic English and something you might have covered when you were learning English in school, but being able to discuss things you are interested in and passionate about is much more than that. This is an essential skill for networking; and having a shared interest with a client or colleague creates valuable bonds and opportunities to develop relationships. That's why, in job interviews, you are often asked about your hobbies and interests outside of the role you are applying for. Research has even proven that employees who engage in creative hobbies outside the workplace perform 15-30% better in their jobs compared to those who don't have any occupations outside of work.
The hobbies we enjoy can teach us different skills. Those involved in Performing Arts or who enjoy arts and crafts tend to be more creative and think outside the box. People who enjoy acting, dancing or performing often make great public speakers and give high-quality and entertaining presentations. If you participate in a team sport like basketball or football, for example, you will have learned many skills, such as managing large numbers of people and conflict resolution, that will help you get on with teams in the workplace.
If you've just met someone for the first time, you might ask them about things to do in the area, or you could make a suggestion if you have the information:
I hear the water sports are good in this area!
Someone told me there is a great golf course near here. Do you go?
Do you like hiking? If so, there are some lovely walks in the hills nearby.
Are you looking forward to the (rugby/basketball/baseball/football) match/game this weekend?
The theatre in town looks impressive. Do you know if there is anything on this month?
If you like beer, there is a great Beer Tasting Festival in town next week.
Or you can ask a more direct question, such as:
Do you like cooking?
Do you play any musical instruments?
Do you often go to the theatre?
Do you enjoy going to the cinema?
Are you interested in cars?
When you're talking about your own hobbies, it’s useful to add what it is about them you enjoy. It's even better if you can link this to your job or role in the company. This is a great technique to remember if you're asked about your hobbies in an interview or on your CV:
I love playing video games, some of them have amazing stories and I like solving problems.
I really enjoy reading. I especially love to keep up-to-date with the latest innovations in science.
I've always had a talent for painting. I find it really helps you connect with nature and it's very calming.
I really enjoy playing tennis. I've made some great friends throughout the years and have even won a few competitions!
If you're in a new place or visiting a new country, you might be asked to participate in some activities you haven't tried before. In some situations, you might like to accept the invitation:
Q. We usually go surfing after work on Friday. Would you like to join us?
A. In Scotland, it's usually too cold for surfing. I've never tried it, but I'd love to give it a go!
Q: I'm organising a 5K run in September. Would you like to take part?
A: Running wouldn't be my number one talent, but I'll give it a try.
Q: I have some tickets to the match on Saturday. Would you like one?
A: That sounds great, I'd love that.
Q: We would like you to join us for a tea ceremony tomorrow?
A: I have never attended a tea ceremony. That sounds lovely, thank you.
In other cases, it might not be your ‘cup of tea’ (which means it might not be something you like to do
Q: At the barbecue, we usually have a bake-off to see who can make the best cake.
A: I'm not really that great at baking, to be honest. I'd rather leave it to the experts!
Q: I'm thinking of organising a Yoga retreat one weekend. Would you be interested?
A: Yoga isn't really my thing. I much prefer team sports. I hope you have a great time, though!
Q: I have some tickets to the Opera on Wednesday. Would you and your wife be interested?
A: I'm afraid I have plans that night, sorry; but maybe some other time.
Hobbies and interests can be a useful tool to make friends, establish connections and build relationships with your employer, colleagues and clients so it is worth studying these phrases and learning to share your interests with others.