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Hobby | Reply
Usually the question about Hobby is asked in the interviews. But I am not sure about handeling this question.

I like Linkin Park songs. Let us suppose I write it as my Hobby. Now I will be asked all questions regarding this group, their history etc etc. But I am interested in their songs and nothing else and do not know much about the group or their history.

And this is the case with many other things. I like them, do them but do not go into much details about them. I like rubiks cube. I can solve it but that's all I know about it.

How do I handle the questions about hobby in such a situation?
Re: Hobby (response to post by rohitgupta14) | Reply
You could bring up TopCoder. That's a hobby they'd probably be interested in hearing about.
Re: Hobby (response to post by rohitgupta14) | Reply
Do not write, say, or mention Linkin Park anywhere near a job interview. Even if you were the drummer for Linkin Park, and the job you're applying for is "drummer for a band" and the band you're applying for sounds kind of like Linkin Park, I would recommend listing your hobby as "Sports". Or "Cooking". Or "Walking Around in a Safe and Quiet Manner, and only on Marked Trails".

I've gone through a lot of resumes with management, and very few things aren't a negative to somebody. I think it's fine that people who apply for tech jobs like "Harry Potter", "Dungeons and Dragons", or "World of Warcraft". Or lacrosse, capoeira, or Metallica. But many managers think it's weird. It's not going to trashbin your resume, but it doesn't help.

(The examples I gave were all ones we've seen on resumes. All of them received quizzical, unapproving looks - and a few got snickering comments afterwards. This might be different in a completely tech company, but it's worth considering. If you have a boring, unexceptionable hobby I'd list that one.)
Re: Hobby (response to post by rohitgupta14) | Reply
There is one general rule that I like people to follow with the hobbies they list on their resume:

"How does interest here map back into the job you are applying for."

Now, I know this sounds like it rules a lot of potential hobbies out, but you just need to know how to twist things in your favor. Given your example of Linkin Park, I would go one of two routes when the interviewer asks for more information.

1) You like the complex patterns of music, the way it all fits together, the patterns, the fact that they fused two very different types of music together to come up with something new, etc.
2) You like their socially minded lyrics.

Both of those show that you look beyond what is there on the surface for deeper aspects of the hobby. Number one is a clear mapping to programming/research, number two is more of a "this person is always thinking" feel, which is also good. What you see is the history of the hobby isn't important, but the why is.

You would be surprised what you could relate back to programming if you think about it, I've interviewed people that have made that connection for gardening, sewing, motocross riding, and sailing (those are just off the top of my head), and I have personally done it with DJ'ing (for the job I have right now as a matter of fact).

Bottom line, it doesn't really matter what you are interested in, as long as it is more then a topical interest (if you don't put much effort into your favorite hobbies how much effort can I expect you to put into your work), and you speak passionately about it. As always, there are exceptions to this rule, and you should avoid putting something you wouldn't want to tell your parents about on there, and I would really try to make sure I can relate it back to the job at hand somehow.

Re: Hobby (response to post by rohitgupta14) | Reply
I recently botched a job interview based on "what is your hobby" type questions. (This was at a trading firm similar to DRW, no less.) I told them that I enjoyed playing card and board games (which seemed innocuous enough) and they asked me which ones. I named "Magic: The Gathering" (which is slightly weird, but still not completely unexpected for a programmer) and they started asking me a little bit about the game. Magic is a very complicated game that's very hard to explain to the uninitiated, so I basically ended up saying, "It's too complicated to explain here. If I start trying to explain it it will probably end up taking up the entire hour and then some." They seemed unhappy with this answer, and sure enough, I was rejected for the job with the comment "excellent problem solving and C++ skills, but has trouble answering questions directly and concisely". Doh!

P.S. If any trading firms are interested in hiring TopCoders/MtG players, I am still on the market. (Shameless plug!)

Edit: by a bizarre coincidence, Linkin Park briefly came up during this same job interview (in reference to the Lincoln Park district in Chicago). Maybe if I had taken that opportunity to denounce Linkin Park I would've gotten the job.
Re: Hobby (response to post by Minilek) | Reply
I believe this is the best thing that I can do.
I have even worked on more than 60 codes on UVA online judge.
It has not been a long time, since when I have started coding (only 1.5 years)but right from the day I have started it, I have worked hard with it and am still working.

This highlights one of my characterstics
Most of my hobbies are related to my field of career. I enjoy doing my work and improving my skills in that field.

Is is apt to highlight this point in an interview ? I believe it is, as most of the replies above imply that its better if your hobby is related to your job.
Re: Hobby (response to post by Minilek) | Reply
Regarding bringing up TopCoder in a job interview: I have been on several job interviews that were set up by TopCoder, and at first I didn't think it was necessary to bring up TopCoder in my resume or in the job interview, because I assumed that the interviewers would already be familiar with my involvement with TopCoder. However, my experience has been that in an interview where you meet maybe 6-8 people, most of them won't bother to look up your stats online, and some of them won't even be aware of the fact that you're coming through TopCoder. So, I would strongly recommend detailing your TopCoder experience in your resume/interview, even if you're interviewing with a TopCoder client.
Re: Hobby (response to post by RachaelLCook) | Reply
Thanks DRW_Chris , jmzero , Minilek ,RachaelLCook for sharing your interview experience.

I got the answers I needed and most of the thought process that goes behind it.
If something is missing in the discussion I shall be glad to know about it.
Re: Hobby (response to post by RachaelLCook) | Reply
I would think that flat out refusing to answer a direct question that they ask you based on the argument that "it is too complicated" would pretty much be a show stopper for most interviewers (including myself).

Now if they would have asked you about your mother and you said you preferred not to talk about your mother that is a completely different story.
Re: Hobby (response to post by tster123) | Reply
I agree. It doesn't matter fi it would take you an hour to explain. Say "it's prety complicated, give be a moment to think how to summarise it" and then start. They don't want to listen to an hour about MTG but will interrupt you and move on.
Re: Hobby (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
I think it does matter. It's best if you can think of the right abstraction level to make the summary of the right length. Then you can add that it's a lot more complicated and ask whether you should go into more details. They'll answer "no" if you did indeed make the summary of the right length.
Re: Hobby (response to post by tster123) | Reply
Yes, in retrospect it was kind of a dumb thing to do, but at the time I was nervous and was eager to get to the technical parts of the interview (where I knew I would excel) and I figured that the interviewers really didn't want to hear me babble on for 10+ minutes trying to explain some weird card game. This was the first interview where I've been asked any kind of open-ended personal questions, so I was somewhat caught off guard. You can be sure that the next person that interviews me will get an earful about why MtG is cool and interesting.
Re: Hobby (response to post by RachaelLCook) | Reply
Well it's quite a good hobby to discuss in an interview, because it is quite complex. The fact it's cards is irrelevant too - it is just another game, and they could link into technical questions on it like "so how would you design classes to model the different types of cards (land, spell, creature, artifact, etc". If I wanted to try and direct the interview to show off things I'm good at, I'd prepare to discuss MTG and try and work in a comment about doing a computer version, in a subtle way.
Re: Hobby (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
I suspect that this will be an unpopular opinion, based on what others have said in the thread, but I personally do not find a person's hobbies to be a particularly relevant line of questioning for an interview. When I think about the people that I have worked with, I really can't see any correlation between what their hobbies are and how good they are at their jobs. (For example, I know some people who play MtG who I would hire in an instant(*), and others who I wouldn't touch.) The only possible exception might be hobbies that are directly related to programming, such as TopCoder, but even that's not foolproof. (As others have noted, some of the top algorithmists might be bored with a "normal" software development job and might be better suited to academia or pure research.)

I suppose you might be able to get some insight into whether someone has a "programmer's mentality" through talking about their hobbies, but why the indirection? Why not just ask them directly about software development?

That being said, if future interviewers really do want to discuss MtG with me instead of C++, I'll be more than happy to oblige! :-)

(*) Bad pun intended, for my fellow MtG players.
Re: Hobby (response to post by RachaelLCook) | Reply
I meant mainly that they can ask programming-related questions - and this tests your ability to think quickly rather than answer "what is inheritence" questions.

As for hobbies, employers have always been interested in mine. But then, my hobbies are doing programming contests and writing 3D computer games...
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