How to Answer Job Interview Questions About Your Grades

Office manager interviews potential new employee
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When you are applying for an entry-level position, a typical job interview question is for the interviewer to ask you about your grades and how they represent you as a person. It can either be tricky or easy to answer depending, of course, on the grades you received.

The Straight-A Student

If you're an A student, your answer will be easy, but you should also express your skills and varied experience outside of the classroom. For example, you don't want your potential employer to think you're book-smart only, lacking social fluency or the ability to interact and communicate well with others.

Further, you’ll want to emphasize any work experience you’ve gained during your college career, including internships, volunteer work, and part-time jobs. These show prospective employers that you know how to function in a workplace as well as in a classroom.

The Average and Below Average Student

If your grades were only average, or worse, you have some reframing to do. The good news is that no college career is summed up entirely with grades. In fact, as far as employers are concerned, your grades won’t matter at all once you have a few years of experience under your belt. Your goal right now is to show the hiring manager your skills and experience outside of your academic achievements.

Regardless of your grades, it's most important to frame your answer in a way that conveys that you are an intelligent, diligent, and well-rounded worker who would add value to the company. Preparation is key to pulling this off. The last thing you want is to seem uncomfortable when you’re telling your story.

These sample interview answers will help you choose the best approach. Edit them to fit your personal experiences and background.

How to Answer if You Have Good Grades

  • "Yes, I feel my grades are a very accurate indication of my success in college and graduate school. I took my academics very seriously and worked very hard for the grades I received. I am proud of the achievements I have made. But, I'd also like to emphasize my extracurricular activities where I've demonstrated leadership and interpersonal skills in addition to academic success."
  • "Yes, I am a hard worker who takes my grades very seriously. My success didn't necessarily come easily to me. I spent a lot of time studying, while also balancing an internship and extracurriculars where I obtained real-life work skills. It wasn't an easy feat, but I managed to succeed in all three areas, and I think this is a good indication of my diligence and dedication to my responsibilities."
  • “Yes, my grades are indicative of my academic achievement. But to be honest, I’m even more proud of some of the projects I worked on outside of my classes. I spent much of my free time junior and senior years volunteering at a local shelter, and the experience helped guide my career path. I believe that I found my purpose as a result of my volunteer work, and several staff members helped me find and land my internship senior year.”

If You Have Average, Inconsistent, or Poor Grades

  • "My grades are a good indication of my academic achievement, but in a way, you may not expect. The improvement that you will see over four years of college does not show lack of achievement in those early semesters. Rather, it shows the effects of finding an area of study that I was passionate about and good at."
  • "As you can see, I've gotten average grades while in college, but I think my involvement with other aspects of my college life offers better evidence of my achievement. For example, I'm a Marketing and Events Chair for my sorority, coordinating all of our social and fundraising events and marketing outreach. I also hold a marketing internship at a local agency and am Vice President of the Undergraduate Marketing Club. My efforts have been focused on developing real-world skills rather than scoring all A grades on my exams."
  • "My grades are not a good indication of what I achieved academically in college. Not because I got bad grades, but because the fieldwork and internships that I participated in are where I achieved the most academically. If you want to ‘see’ my achievements, I will share my portfolio and tell you about my work experiences."