Interview Question: "Tell Me About Your Educational Background"

Updated March 10, 2023

When preparing for an interview, it’s important to consider all the questions you may be asked. One common area of questioning involves your educational background. Hiring managers often ask questions about your education to determine how your background has prepared you for the open position and how it will make you an asset to their company.

In this article, we discuss answering questions about your educational background, including commonly asked questions with example answers.

Why interviewers ask about your educational background

Any interviewer can look at your resume and see your formal education. Employers ask about your educational background during an interview to determine how your education has prepared you for the specific responsibilities you will have in the position you are applying for or how your educational experiences will help you fit into the company’s culture and work environment. Your educational background can include both your formal education and any informal or continuing education you have received throughout your lifetime.

During an interview, it is common to focus on both your most recent and relevant educational experiences when answering questions about your education. For example, if you are applying to be a middle school science teacher, you can discuss how your college education prepared you to teach middle school science specifically, but may also discuss educational experiences such as continuing education courses related to science that you have taken outside of your formal education.

Related: When a Professional Degree Will Help You Advance in Your Career

How to answer questions about your educational background

Follow these steps to answer questions the interviewer asks about your education:

1. Start with your most recent formal education experience

Your resume most likely includes your most recent formal education level. For many people, this will be a high school diploma or a post-secondary degree with a major in a field relevant to the position you are applying for. Elaborate on the information already provided in your resume by discussing specific coursework that has helped prepare you for this position.

2. Describe any additional experience relevant to the position

If you have any additional educational experience relevant to the position you are applying for, such as a certification program you have completed or an endorsement in a specific skill or area, discuss how this additional experience will help you add value to the role and company you are applying to.

3. Finish with what you do to continue to learn

Employers value candidates who have an open mind and who appreciate continuous learning. Discuss what you do to continue your education. This may include continuing education courses, certification programs, attending conferences or working toward a higher degree.

Related: How To List Education on a Resume

Example answers for questions about your educational background

Here are a few sample answers you can use for questions about your educational background:

How has your education prepared you for this job?

Example: “I majored in legal studies, so several of my courses directly prepared me for the role of a paralegal. Each course in my major required extensive legal research and writing. Specifically, my final course was a capstone project in which I had to prepare documents like evidence lists, requests for discovery, subpoenas and questions for depositions to prepare a defense for a criminal law case. This course gave me the real-world experience I needed to know how to prepare legal documents and complete the legal research specific to each case I work on.”

Why did you attend the college you did and what other schools did you consider?

Example: “I considered several schools when I was initially applying to colleges. I chose to begin my education at a community college because of the flexibility and cost savings it offered. While attending school, I was also working 30 hours per week and supporting myself. A community college gave me the flexibility to take certain courses online, attend night courses on campus and save money. I was able to finish my associate's degree in two years and then transferred to a larger university to complete my bachelor’s degree.

I chose the larger university for my bachelor’s degree because I wanted the opportunity to be a part of a larger, more diverse student body. This university also has a very strong journalism program, which has provided me with a large network of alumni to network with and a great internship opportunity I participated in at the end of my program.”

Are your grades and GPA reflective of the quality of work you can produce?

Example: “I would say that while my GPA is not reflective of the quality of work I can produce, my overall grades are. When I first started college, I struggled in my freshman year with some of the core classes I needed to take, and a few of the grades in those courses, unfortunately, brought down my overall GPA. However, once I completed those initial core classes, my grades were above average in all the classes I took for my major. I believe those grades are more reflective of my ability to produce quality work in this position.”

Related: Master’s Degree: Definition, Elements and Benefits

Tips for answering questions about your educational background

Here are a few general tips to remember when answering questions related to your educational experiences:

Answer honestly

Every answer you give during an interview should be honest. Focus on the relevant experience you have without exaggerating. If you have received academic honors or awards, now is the time to discuss them.

Prepare for the interview

When preparing for an interview, you need to understand the responsibilities for the specific position you are applying to and the needs of the company. Knowing this information will help you craft your answer in a way that aligns your educational background with what the interviewer is looking for.

Address everyone in the interview

Sometimes interviews are done by multiple interviewers at the same time. For example, the interview may be conducted by both the supervisor of the team you would be on and the manager of the entire department you would be working in. Make eye contact and engage with each person sitting in on the interview regardless of who asks the question.

Support your answer with an example, if you have one

If you have relevant experience, support your answer to this question with a specific example of how your educational background helped you navigate and overcome a challenge or situation in the workplace.

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