Every college graduate job interview question should begin with either “If you can remember…” or “When you weren’t drunk…” It seems unfair to ask questions about your college involvement since if you are like 50% of all graduates, you have already forgotten most of it in a sleep deprived alcohol induced daze.
Unfortunately for you, employers want to know what you did during college. One of the questions they may ask you is how involved you were within the department of your field of study.
“I took a lot of classes and often attended student meetings. I also studied with a lot of students on a regular basis.”
Essentially this answer is “I didn’t do anything beyond my classes.” Sometimes that will be true. When that is the case, you don’t want to pretend you did by supplying an answer that has essentially nothing to do with departmental involvement.
“My first year in the department I worked as a student teacher for transfer students interested in joining the [Field] department, including instructing them about the college, the classes, etc. I also was an officer of [Greek Letters], the [Field] honor society. I spent time volunteering in Dr. [Doctor’s Name] research lab during my second year, and was a TA for the [field] statistics course.”
This is the kind of answer you give when you were very involved within your department. Describe everything you participated in, and feel free and expand if you believe any aspect of that work was particularly interesting to the employer.
What happens if you did not have much involvement with the department and you would like to answer this question well? You supply an answer that spins what you actually did during college to make it sound more involved:
“I spent some time tutoring students in some of the freshman level classes within the department. I also met often met with the department advisor and spent a great deal of time making regular visits to the professors within the department to discuss their classes and study methods.”
What did you really do?
- I was asked to help a buddy of mine with their homework.
- I needed advice on what classes to take since I was too lazy to research it myself.
- I thought I was going to flunk their classes so I met up with them to find ways to get a better grade. Also, one of my professors was hot.
The answer is not going to wow the employer, because quite frankly you didn’t do anything that would wow an employer. Still, it does manage to stretch the truth just enough to make it sound like you did something within your department and while it won’t get you any bonus points, it’s the best answer you can provided given the circumstances.
Take Away Interview Tips
- If you were involved, describe how you were involved.
- If you were not involved, prepare an answer that stretches the truth.