Tough Interview Question – How has your education prepared you for your career?

By | April 30, 2016

How has your education prepared you for your career?

Similar interview questions:
Why did you choose to attend _____?
Why did you select _____ major?
Why didn’t you attend _____?
Where were you accepted for college?
Tell me about a classroom project with real-world application.

tough

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is probing for both why you attended college at _____ as well as whether you made practical, real world connections between your academic studies and the world of work. If the interviewer is not familiar with your college, it may be a way to better understand the academic programs. The interviewer may also want to know why you attended one college over another.

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The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on the real world applications of your education. If you had classroom projects that tied to real world examples, use them. If you had any type of case studies class, this is usually a good example to use. If you have had work experience and/or internships, this is an opportunity to talk specifically about what you learned in the classroom that helped you in your work.

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An example of how to best answer this question for an experienced candidate:
“Several of my capstone courses for my major tied directly into the work I’ve been doing on the job. For example, my Algorithms class has tied in directly into my current project, as we’re seeking to optimize the code for presenting user results. I was able to apply a unique algorithm that greatly increased the user interaction with the results on that particular page. Would you like me to show it to you?”

An example of how to best answer this question for an entry level candidate:
“Several of my classes have tied into real world examples for my career. A recent example is with our case study class, where we reviewed a recent case of the merger between a large national bank and a smaller regional bank. Even though the case was interesting and highly relevant, it was two years old by the time we reviewed it in class. With guidance from our professor, I reached out to one of the Vice Presidents at the regional bank to assess the impact of the merger. It provided valuable insight not only into the financial models used for making the merger at the time, but also how they played out in the merger itself. My final paper ended up winning an award within my department. Would you like me to show it to you?”

First place

An example of how you should not answer this question:
“Well, I learned how to hold my beer, that’s for sure. When I arrived on campus as a Freshman, I was a real lightweight. But over time, I learned to drink with the best of them. I know it’s important to be able to hold your liquor in a work setting so that you don’t do or say something stupid when you’re out drinking with your co-workers. Most of my classes weren’t really tied to work and the ones that were tied to my career were just plain boring. So I’ve been working just to get my degree and get out of here so that I can start doing real work. The partying has been fun, but it’s time to get on with my life.”

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Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

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