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How to Answer "Why Did You Pick This Major?" in an Interview

by Andrew Aarons

“There are no stupid questions, but there are stupid answers.” That saying is never more true than it is when it’s said of interviews. Most employers ask a series of interview questions that are fairly predictable -- “Why did you pick this major?” is usually at the top of their list. Be sure to anticipate and prepare for it to ensure that you have a great interview.

Show that You’re Goal Oriented

It might be true that you majored in leisure studies because a girl you had a crush on in high school enrolled in it. It might be true that you went to law school because your grandmother offered to pay for it. Or it might be true that you the only reason you went to college at all is because your dream of becoming a circus acrobat didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped. But none of those answers are going to impress a potential employer. They’re looking for people who set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve it. And they want to make sure that your college major choice is related to your career goals.

Look on the Bright Side

No one likes to hear complaining, least of all prospective employers. Part of the interview process is designed to see whether or not potential employees can be happy with their jobs. If you’re applying to work as a communications manager, don’t say that you only went into communications because you couldn’t get into architecture school and now you’re just making the best of the hand you were dealt. If you do, the employer might reasonably wonder whether this is the right field for you. Show them what you love about this field.

Show Off Your Strengths

It’s a fine line between being confident and arrogant, and the line is especially tough to walk in a job interview. But now is your chance to brag, while looking like you’re not bragging. Explain how this major was a perfect fit with your skill set. If you majored in political science, explain how it matched your analytic skills. If you majored in statistics, explain how it matched your math skills. You get the idea -- use the question about your college major as an opportunity to talk about yourself, and your interviewer will find themselves impressed by your abilities without being annoyed by the fact that you’re (discreetly) boasting about them.

Relate Your Major to Their Success

The interviewer didn’t ask you about your major just so they can get to know you better. And they didn’t ask you about your college major just so they can understand what it did for you. They asked you about your college major so they can decide whether what you learned can benefit them. So tell them what you learned during your studies -- not the minute details, but the important training that directly connects with what their company (and hopefully yours) does.

About the Author

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.

Photo Credits

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