How to Sell your Degree in the Interview

Most of us know how to answer experience-related questions at a job interview. It’s fairly simple – provide an example of a job you did that’s similar to the one you’re aiming for. For technical competencies you can talk about your certs and awards, and for people skills you mention your experience working in a team or leading a project.

But when it comes to educational qualifications, we’re stumped. How does your degree relate to the job? Which modules should you mention that will give the interviewer the best impression of you?

This is the article for fresh jobseekers who often have a degree and nothing else, or those who might have taken a slew of unrelated jobs while waiting for a posting in their field of study. In summary, you can make your interviewer sit up and take notice of your higher education by making it relevant, highlighting soft skills and emphasising a thirst to learn.

Here’s how to…

  1. Make it relevant

If your education is needed for the job you’re applying for, simply mention it and you’re done. But if your degree is unrelated to the job scope at hand, you’ll have a harder time making it work.

Emphasise the advantages of your higher education instead. Most degree programmes expose their students to a broader variety of work in the field rather than limiting them to a single role. Therefore, mention how this range of experience lets you adapt quickly and has changed your perspective on the industry, or how you’re suitable for many tasks rather than specialising in one. Let the hiring manager know how your education has prepared you for anything that the working environment can bring your way.

  1. Highlight intangible gains

Were you involved in a committee, CCA, volunteer organisation or cause? Highlight these in your CV and during your interview, and talk about why you’re passionate about them. An involved and active university life is a sign of an integrated and engaged individual – definitely someone an organisation would want to hire.

You should also mention soft skills you learnt during your time in higher education. These can include time management, teamwork and problem-solving skills. Prepare plenty of good examples of these for interview!

  1. Emphasise your character

Trust us – companies are actually very open to hiring fresh grads or people with less work experience. What they’re looking for is the right attitude, and that’s not something found in lists of former jobs. In particular, hiring managers often like a new jobseeker’s enthusiasm and willingness to try different things. They feel that such “young buds” can be groomed to fit in with the company well.

So, don’t be ashamed that you have “only” your degree to offer – be proud of it! Let your enthusiasm this big new step in your life show. Research the company that is interviewing you and talk about how you’d like to participate in its growth. Detail causes you celebrate and projects you want to get involved in.

If you have the right attitude, you’ll find that many will respond with the “right” answer – a job offer.

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