Why Did You Choose This Major?: Tricky Interview Questions
July 27, 2021
We might not be obliged to explain our life choices to anyone, but there are situations like those in the job interviews where we ought to. “Why did you choose this major?” is one of the most common questions asked, especially if you’re a recent graduate. Luckily, there is no right or wrong response, but how you present it can strongly influence your chances of getting hired. And to help you with that, we have curated this guide that provides you with a thorough understanding to nail that question right.
What is the purpose of the question?
Take this as a ‘getting to know you’ question asked in almost every entry-level job. The purpose is:
a) To evaluate your skills and knowledge.
b) To understand your interests and personality attributes.
c) To analyse whether you would be a cultural fit for the job or not.
The hiring manager wants to get an idea of your career plans that are aligned with the job at hand instead of mindlessly applying for the sake of working somewhere. But majorly, they need to be assured that the candidate is suited to perform the tasks required for the position.
How can you answer?
Firstly, you need to be honest about whatever you claim in the interview, be it your abilities or personal information. The recruiter will catch your lies in an instant, so it’s advisable to speak the truth. Secondly, you need to list your skills, achievements, and experience relevant to the job. Even if your major is not related to the job, try to find a common link between them.
For technical jobs like engineering, medicines, or architecture, you need to have a specific degree as these professions demand expertise in the subject more than others. For general occupations like journalism, sales & marketing, and writing, having a particular degree won’t be a prerequisite, but relevant knowledge, experience, and skills will be required.
For instance, let us assume that you have majored in English Literature, and now, you are interviewing for a job in a news agency. You can tell the interviewer how your knowledge of the language, grammar and writing abilities will help curate excellent news stories. You can also mention your volunteer experience during college or the internship that you did in the field.
What to say, what not to say?
Continuing the example above, you can take inspiration to form your answer in the manner of:
“I have studied English Literature, but my priorities changed when I volunteered to write for my college magazine that dealt with contemporary world affairs. My enriching experience sparked my interest to pursue a career in the field of journalism. I believe my expertise in the English language and my knowledge of grammar will help me curate compelling, well-structured stories. Furthermore, the critical thinking skills that I gained during my graduation will help me research and conceptualise content. I also have some hands-on training I received during an internship.”
What you shouldn’t say
1. The reason for choosing your major could be that it has excellent financial security, but you necessarily do not have to say it to the interviewer — it might backfire on you. You want to come across as a passionate person who is willing to work and grow, not someone who is merely motivated by financial prospects.
2. It’s okay to give an anecdotal explanation for your major as long as you don’t go overboard. It’s good to know you had a great time studying abroad in the UK, and you made many friends while living in your student housing in London. But remember, you have a short time to make an impression, and you can’t afford to digress from the topic. So tailor your answer in a way that only includes relevant details.
Going the extra mile!
This interview question isn’t all that challenging if you consider your major and your experience studying for the past two or four years. All you need is the correct preparation, and to leverage it, here are few bonus tips:
1. Before you apply for the role, read the job description carefully and make a list of the stated skill set. Try to relate it with yours, and accordingly, alter your resume to send it across the company.
2. If you have trouble identifying the skills of your major, try remembering the activities, projects, and assignments you executed in your college and what they have taught you! If you still can’t figure it out, then check your curriculum or visit your college website. Generally, they list reasons why the major will be helpful for the students.
All the best!
Author: Harshita A (Content Writer at AmberStudent)
Harshita A, a postgraduate in English Journalism and a graduate in Hotel Management. She has worked in diverse industries and with people from all walks of life. Her well-rounded experience ignited her curiosity in constantly learning new things about the world and led her to write passionately about them.
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