For those of you who have had the privilege and success of finishing college, this question may apply more for entry-level and internship positions. Though it is commonly asked to fresh graduates and newcomers to the job force, it can be inquired of just about anyone as a means of establishing credibility. Whether it has been decades since your college graduation or a few short weeks, this question offers an opportunity for you to sell yourself. Here is how to use education to establish who you are and what you value when answering the question, “why did you choose your major”?
Through an inquiry regarding the reason that you pursued the degree that you did, interviewers gain more insight into your interests and overall character. When answering this question, it can be challenging to pinpoint the reason why you pursued your major, but interviewers want to know how this shaped more of who you are and whether or not you would be a good fit for the job you are interviewing for. Think of it as a more career-focused “get to know you” question!
Here is how to respond to the question thoughtfully.
You can use your answer to show that you are the right candidate for the position up for hire. Find a way that connects your education to the prospective job. Use the skills and knowledge that you picked up in school. Even if you cannot think of anything that may relate your major to the tasks associated with the desired position, there are hard and soft skills (communication skills, leadership qualities, technical abilities, etc.) that employers look for. These can be highlighted in the work and assignments completed during your time in school.
Ideally, your major will line up with the job you are looking for (education major with teaching, for example). However, this is not always the case. A psychology major looking for work at an office job, for instance, happens, too. In these moments, you must show off the proficiencies tied to your degree as a means of being a valued asset with a differing, but vital, expertise. In this way, you can better market yourself as a potential candidate with unique qualities rather than irrelevant ones.
Take a minute and assess your true reason as to why you graduated with your chosen major. You must have some sort of passion for affinity for the thing that you decided to study. You spent years working, countless sleepless nights, and thousands of dollars learning about. Even if you aren’t passionate about it now (because people do change), show your enthusiasm for the work you accomplished. Be proud of the fact that you even have a degree! Passion for your major or the success of graduating has a lot of power to accentuate your personality as a positive encounter. It shows that you have the same amount of potential to be excited about the job you are interviewing for. Who isn’t enthralled with someone who is unapologetically and wholeheartedly passionate about their interests?
Interviewers can tell if you are making something up or faking your zeal. Avoid answering the question with “I wanted to have a big salary.”Or with a response that doesn’t mesh with the job. Even if that is the honest reason why you chose the major, you cannot forget that this is more than a “get to know you” question. It is something asked to assess your capabilities and experience, as well.
So why did you choose your major?
This question can tempt some to share their life story and go on tangents rather than respond directly to the question. The interviewer, though wanting to get to know you, is still on a time restraint. Use your answer to your advantage! Instead of spouting off extraneous anecdotes about how you have loved the subject of your major since childhood, utilize this valuable time to highlight your strengths and show your significance to the future of the company. It could take some extra steps of preparation to clearly communicate what you want to convey, though.
It may be helpful to write out the reasons, including the strengths and valued skills you picked up from years of coursework, on a piece of paper to better organize your response. Bullet point the critical information that you want to include in your response while maintaining an authentic emotional connection to your answer. If you don’t want to write it down, then consider practicing this question with a peer, family member, or career/guidance advisor. The extra intentionality to prepare and practice your professional communication will take you far!
Good luck and best wishes in your next interview! You’ve got this!
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