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Poetry at a Job Interview?

April is National Poetry Month. In 2021, more than at any time in recent memory, poetry has become a national focus here in the United States. Reciting her own poem, The Hill We Climb, twenty-two year-old Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet ever, seems to have illuminated the narrow path to poetry again in January.

But at a job interview? Are we serious? What can poetry do for you at a job interview?

Poetry is as old as mankind and as diverse as the job market. Although it would make a candidate look rather weird if they started to speak in rhyming couplets, reading poetry may still have its place as you prepare their next job application.


Have you noticed how people around you speak the same language, more or less? The same verbs with the same nouns (“impact,” anyone?), same colloquialisms (many of which seeped into the language from poetry, by the way), and the same speech patterns over and over render conversations not only boring, but alarmingly predictable. Commonplace phrases, buzzwords, and clichés might be picked up by the computer’s applicant tracking systems, but they might put off the human decision maker. Entering an interview or crafting a written personal with a more diversified verbal toolkit will make one’s application stand out.


Developing a larger vocabulary via poetry, or reading in general, will help understand the nuances of a conversation, including where it might be going. If you are the analytical-reflective type, you will, by default, take every line and metaphor apart anyway, looking for deeper or hidden meanings and trying to read between the lines. The words chosen by the interviewer may provide pointers how you are doing, help grasp the situation and remediate any mishaps on the spot, and, in the long run, will also help you get a read on how favorably your application is being received.


In these days there seems to be a quote posted on social media for every life situation, covering flashy and trashy,  gripping and moving, worthwhile and meaningful. Trying to find one that fits your current interest and state of mind might inspire you to click and read more (serendipitously, you may bump into new jobs), to reflect on what you have read (you may get new ideas for that cover letter), and to create your inspirational posts (such as we at Books We Read propose in our graphic design workshops). Get inspired to inspire others with us.


A job search is no fun. Not after a couple of months of futile attempts to get an interview, when even a rejection letter would mean the world to you (or at least the promise that your application was noticed). Instead of drowning in your sorrows, read. No time for a book or even a short story without feeling guilty? Find a short poem instead. Listen to poems from Poetry Out LoudTry reading some out aloud, as suggested by the National Poetry foundation. Social media influencers have jumped up on the poetry band wagon, too––take advantage of that as a distraction. Someone’s tacky choice picked for fun might be your next inspiration. Or you can just get a good laugh.Poem

Limerick by Salman Rushdie. Image credit: Books We Read.