When you interview there will be questions you aren’t ready for. This article is to help you get some great interview prep with having answers to questions you might not see coming. Are your grades
When you interview there will be questions you aren’t ready for. This article is to help you get some great interview prep with having answers to questions you might not see coming.
Are your grades a good indicator of success in this business?
The Real Question: Did you make the correct academic choices? Were your results good enough and do you take responsibility for them?
Top-line Tactic: If you don’t have excellent results to brag about, explain your academic performance without blaming others or sounding defensive.
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This might not sound like the nicest question you could be asked, but it’s actually a less aggressive version of other questions about academic performance. The interviewer could be asking you “Why are your grades so low?” or “Are you overqualified” or “Do you really think your philosophy degree is good preparation for the world of work?” etc. So take a moment to appreciate that this is the grades question you happened to get.
If the interviewer goes with this more neutral formulation of the grades question, they’re probably trying to learn how you felt about academia and how you approached your time in education, as well gauging your ability to talk sensibly about shortcomings and trade-offs, and less about how you performed at school (which is probably on your résumé anyway).
Answering is easy enough if you have excellent grades to boast of. Just highlight your most relevant accomplishments—without bragging unattractively. Perhaps that could sound like this:
I do feel it was good preparation. My math degree will obviously help me out as I start my career as a financial analyst, but it’s actually the study skills and the ability to keep at it even if a problem is really tough that I think will serve me best.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have the sort of results that will wow the interviewer, you need to tread carefully. You don’t want to come across as defensive about your less-than-stellar performance lest the interviewer suspect you lack confidence. Nor do you want to blame circumstance or cast yourself as the victim—every employer is looking for team members who will be accountable for their performance.
A better approach is to highlight the trade-offs you made and the aspects of your time at school or college that show you in the best light. You may have barely passed chemistry, but maybe you were a club leader, completed several impressive internships, or spent a good deal of time gaining actual work experience while at college.
I didn’t get the excellent results I wanted in all my subjects, but I don’t think that’s going to affect how well I do here. Also, I learned other skills at college during my stint as the president of the Entrepreneur Society and working at the university radio station, which was a lot of fun and really taught me to think on my feet and connect with a wide variety of people. Course results are important, but they’re not the only thing you can gain from further education.
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