Answering the “Tell Me About Your Educational Background” Interview Question

Dana Guterman
Updated: June 15, 2023

After reading this article, you’ll:

  • Understand how to connect your educational history to the role for which you’re interviewing.
  • Know why employers ask about your educational background.
  • Be prepared to answer other frequently asked interview questions about your education.

Most interns and entry-level employees don’t have a ton of actual work experience, so many interviewers focus on their educational background instead. How you perform in school can say a lot about how you’ll perform in a new role. In fact, the more education you have, the more likely your income will be higher and the less likely you are to be unemployed. Highlighting how your education and relating it back to your job is a pivotal question to answer in a job interview. In this guide, we’ll tell you what education-related questions to expect and how to answer them.

Crafting Your Answer: A Step-by-Step Guide

We understand that it can be a challenge to formulate the right response when asked about your educational background, especially when it needs to resonate with your potential employer’s expectations. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you construct an impactful answer:

Step 1: Identify Relevant Aspects of Your Education

First, take stock of your educational journey. List down the key courses, projects, extracurricular activities, internships, or certifications you’ve attained. As you do this, think critically about which aspects are most relevant to the role you’re applying for. For instance, a course on data analysis would be significant if you’re applying for a data science position.

Step 2: Understand the Job Requirements

Go through the job description in detail. Highlight the skills, experiences, and qualifications the employer is looking for. Some of the required skills might not be explicitly stated, so try to infer what might be useful based on the nature of the job.

Step 3: Draw the Connection

Now that you know what aspects of your education are important and what the job entails, the next step is to draw a connection between the two. This step is crucial because it shows the employer that you’ve done your homework and understand how your educational background makes you a fit for the job. Describe how specific courses, projects, or extracurricular activities have equipped you with the skills necessary for the role.

Step 4: Practice Articulating Your Answer

Once you’ve structured your response, practice delivering it. Remember, communication is not just about the content but also the delivery. Practicing will help you ensure that your answer is clear, concise, and confident.

Step 5: Review and Refine

After practicing, review your response. Ask yourself, “Does this answer accurately represent my education? Does it demonstrate how my education prepares me for this role?” If the answer is no to any of these questions, refine your response until it does.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be well-equipped to answer questions about your educational background in a way that not only highlights your qualifications but also shows how you can add value to the company.

“Tell me about your educational background”: Sample answers

Like any “Tell me about yourself” question, a great response is all about connecting your qualifications and experiences to what you can do for the employer. Here are three strong example answers for “Tell me about your educational background.”

Example 1: Accounting internship

I’m currently majoring in finance, with a minor in Japanese, at ABC University. I knew that I wanted to go into accounting from day one, so I chose a university with a strong finance program and a broad alumni network. In fact, I originally heard about this internship from an ABC University alumna: Ella Smith in your marketing department. Because I believe that great accountants also have great communication skills, I decided to hone my language skills, too, by minoring in Japanese. My major has taught me the accounting fundamentals, while my minor has taught me the soft skills necessary to succeed.

Example 2: Entry-level event planner

I graduated from XYZ University three months ago with a bachelor’s in English and a 3.9 GPA. My English degree gave me strong communication and writing skills, which are crucial for event planning. But while I was in school, I got a lot of hands-on event planning experience from extracurriculars, too. I was in an improv group, where I ran all the social media accounts. My efforts boosted attendance at our shows by 15%. I also served as the recruitment chair for my fraternity, organizing and executing our annual fundraising and recruitment events. While we got about 50 applications each year before, we got 72 in my first year in-role and 90 the year after that.

Example 3: Software developer role

I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from XYZ University, where I specialized in software development. One of my most notable experiences was a final year project where I had to develop a mobile application from scratch. This allowed me to apply my theoretical knowledge in a practical way and further deepen my skills in Java and Python, which are integral to this role. I also took additional courses in user experience design, as I understand the importance of developing software that’s not only functional, but also user-friendly.

Tips on talking about your education

Here are some general tips for discussing your education during an interview:

  • Keep it relevant and recent. Highlight aspects of your education that relate to the job and company at hand. Likewise, recent events are more applicable, so stay away from anecdotes about high school.
  • Education = work. If you’re interviewing for an internship, it’s unlikely anyone will ask you about your work experience. If they do, it’s fine to discuss your academic experience instead.
  • Don’t repeat your resume. The employer already knows where you went to school from your resume. This question is your opportunity to connect your education to the job by focusing on specific coursework and relevant details.
  • Extracurriculars and certifications count. Activities and clubs are a huge part of a person’s education, so be sure to highlight any relevant extracurriculars to the interviewer. You can also mention any additional certifications or online courses, if applicable to the role.

Other interview questions about your educational background

Interviewers ask a variety of questions about your educational background. In addition to, “Tell me about your educational background,” here are seven of the most common ones.

  • How does your education relate to your career?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • How does your major relate to this role?
  • What classes have you taken that relate to this internship/job?
  • Why did you choose to attend [name of school]?
  • Tell me about a course or project that helped you succeed professionally.
  • What types of extracurricular activities do/did you participate in? How do these relate to your career goals?