Job Enquiry: ‘Tell Me About Your Educational Background’
Job interviewers may ask you challenging questions about your experiences and achievements, including your education background. Enquiring about your educational background can help the employer assess your preparedness for the role. Understanding how to address this enquiry can help you answer confidently and increase your chances of securing the role. In this article, we discuss why interviewers enquire about educational background and how to respond to them, with examples.
Why employers enquire ‘Tell me about your educational background'
Employers often enquire ‘Tell me about your educational background’ during job interviews to learn how the qualifications listed on your resume prepared you for the job. When you respond to this enquiry, they can assess whether your education has given you knowledge and skills that can help you succeed in the position. Your educational background can also help you fit into the organisation's corporate culture. For example, if you pursued an optional postgraduate degree you may show the employer you could fit in with a team of ambitious and motivated employees.
How to answer ‘Tell me about your educational background’
Here are some helpful steps you can follow to effectively answer an interview enquiry about your educational background:
1. Detail your most recent formal education experience
Your most recent formal education experience is the most relevant for the position. This may be your high school certificate, a vocational certificate or a degree, depending on the role. You might expand on the information in your resume by discussing coursework or work placement that specifically prepared you for the role.
For example, someone applying for a registered neonatal intensive care nurse position might note they spent three weeks in a work placement role in a neonatal intensive care unit in the final semester of their bachelor of nursing degree. They could explain how they felt they really made a difference to the babies and their parents. They might add that they thrived in the fast-paced environment which helped them stay focused throughout their shifts. This answer shows their passion for the role and their preparedness for the working environment and job responsibilities.
2. Describe any extra educational experience relevant to the role
After detailing your most recent formal educational experience, you might mention any extra experience gained through study that prepared you for the role. This might be some formal education experience dating back to your high school education. It might also be informal education gained through community programs or self-directed learning. For each educational experience you list, you can mention some topics you learned about and how they've benefitted your career.
For example, someone applying for a social media manager position might discuss the self-directed study they completed during high school to launch a vlog. They could mention some websites they found helpful and techniques they learned about to increase social engagement and their followers. They could also note how their self-directed study and practical experience vlogging gave them foundational knowledge that helped them excel while studying for a Certificate of Social Media and Engagement. This answer shows their long-term passion for social media and their motivation to understand it better.
3. Explain how you continue learning
Explaining how you continue learning shows a passion for your field and motivation to improve yourself. This is vital for roles that require ongoing professional development. It can also give you an advantage over other candidates for roles where ongoing education is optional. You might mention any qualification you're working towards, industry publications you subscribe to or courses you recently enrolled in. Explaining why you continue learning and anything relevant you learned recently can help the employer understand your motivation.
For example, someone applying for a university lecturer position might note that they're currently studying a graduate certificate in education part-time online. They might say that while their master's degree in chemistry gave them a comprehensive understanding of this scientific speciality, this course helped them become a more effective and engaging teacher. They might note that topics about digital education theory have been especially beneficial to help them engage students today.
Here are a few educational background example answers that may inspire your own answer to this common interview enquiry:
Example 1: Event planner
Here is an example of an answer that an event planner may give to explain their educational background:
‘I've always been passionate about managing events but completing a bachelor of event management helped me understand more about the business side of this career. Classes about negotiating deals, securing event sales and sponsorship and managing human resources and risks have taught me how to create an event that is as successful financially as it is entertaining. I loved applying that knowledge with a professional work placement position at Sienna Events in my final year of study. Facing real challenges and using my studies to solve them was such a valuable experience.
Last year I became a virtual events certified professional. I've noticed growth in the online events sector recently and wanted to learn more about how to engage virtual attendees and make digital events a success. I'm excited about the evolution of the events industry and feel much more confident about understanding the changes after completing the course. I'm also a member of several events industry associations. I monitor their events and attend conferences, seminars and workshops at least once every six months. I always learn something new about effective event practices and how to make events more engaging and profitable.’
Example 2: Real estate agent
Here is an example of an answer a real estate agent may provide a job interviewer enquiring about their educational history.
‘Completing the Certificate IV in Real Estate Practice five years ago did much more for me than helping me qualify for my real estate licence. It helped me develop the communication skills I use interacting with vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants. It also gave me the confidence to conduct auctions and appraise properties for sale or rent.
I look forward to commencing the Diploma of Property (Agency Management) course in the new year. Through this online course I can learn more about managing a real estate agency while continuing my work as a real estate agent. I believe that learning and growing your skills is so important for job satisfaction. I'm a very motivated person with strong organisation and relationship management skills. I look forward to learning new leadership skills that could complement my existing skill set and help me advance in my career.’
Example 3: Police officer
Here is an example of an answer a police officer outlining their educational background may give during a job interview:
‘I completed my Higher School Certificate seven years ago. One subject that really made an impression on me was legal studies. What was initially a subject selected because my friends wanted to study it became a real passion for me. I loved learning about case studies and seeing the way the law impacted real people and society. Preferring to start contributing as soon as I graduated rather than spending years in a classroom, I decided to enrol in the police force.
After completing high school, I set about obtaining the Level 1 First Aid certificate and Certificate in Workforce Essentials that could qualify me to become a police officer. I wanted to join the police force so badly, I remember really focusing on those short courses to make sure that I passed. Recently, I've enrolled in a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, which I can study part-time around my policing duties. I feel like understanding more about the reasons people commit crimes can make me a more effective interrogator and help me develop better crime prevention strategies.’
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