In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

  | James Innes

     

In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

Alternative and related questions:

Why did you choose to study x at university and how do you feel it is relevant to this job?
What did you learn at university that will help you to undertake this job?

The meaning behind the question:

Completing a degree course is a significant undertaking. In asking this question the interviewer is trying to appreciate what your degree course involved and how the skills and experience gained during your time at university will be of use in the job for which you are now applying.

Your answer:

The way you answer this question will depend on your circumstances – and there are two main possibilities.

If your degree is directly relevant to the work you are now doing – for example if you’re a doctor – then this question is reasonably straightforward to answer. You just need to pick a few key aspects of your degree course which you have found to be particularly useful to you in your working life. Describe these briefly and demonstrate the bearing they have on your suitability for the role for which you are applying.

If, however, your degree was in Criminology and you are now working as a Finance Assistant then talking about the module on ‘Criminal Justice in Modern Britain’ is obviously going to be completely irrelevant! Instead, in such cases, you should be concentrating on:

  • What transferable skills and abilities you developed during your degree course
  • How these skills and abilities relate to your current line of work
  • How the experience of completing a degree course has helped you develop as an individual

Many employers are sceptical as to the real-world value of some degree courses. There is a common perception that graduates lack initiative – and the ability to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical purposes. Make sure you dispel any doubts the interviewer may have in this respect.

Example:

While my degree in Geography is of course not directly relevant to my current role as a Market Researcher, it was nevertheless a very worthwhile experience in many different ways. I developed a broad set of transferable skills, including how to compile, interpret and analyse data – skills I now apply on a daily basis. I also undertook a number of team projects, working together to achieve a goal, including writing up the results of our findings – and how best to structure and communicate our arguments. Undertaking a degree course was of course a major personal challenge and I definitely matured significantly during my time at university – learning how to plan and organise my own workload so as to meet all my deadlines.  I feel it has definitely helped to prepare me for my current career.

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