Interview Question: "Why Did You Choose Your Major?"

Young man smiling in an interview
••• asiseeit / Getty Images

During an interview for an entry-level job or an internship position, you might be asked to explain why you chose your college major. There is no right or wrong response to this question. However, you should be sure to give a well-rounded answer.

 Use this question as an opportunity to mention a few skills related to your chosen major that would also be relevant in the workplace. Since this is a common entry-level interview question, it's a good idea to think through how you would respond before you head out to your job interview.

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know

Your answer to this question is a window into your personality and interests. Think of this as a "getting to know you" question. Interviewers will also be looking to see if your answer points to a good culture fit. Ideally, you'll be able to respond in a way that connects to the job.

How to Answer Questions About Why You Chose Your Major

Focus on the skills and experiences you gained from the major that are most related to the job. Even if your major is not directly related to the job, you can likely find connections between the two. For example, if you majored in English but are applying for a job as a paralegal, you might emphasize how you value the critical thinking skills you developed in the major and emphasize that these will be useful when conducting research at a law office.

Take a moment to think about your college days. Write down a list of skills and experiences you gained through your major studies. Then, look back at the job listing. Circle any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job.

If you're having trouble coming up with any skills and experiences you gained through your major, think back to assignments and projects from previous classes. Consider the skills you developed working on those projects. It may help to look back at course syllabi, which often include a list of "course goals" that might include particular skills. Another source of inspiration is your university or college’s website. Take a look at the webpage for your major. University and college websites often include a page on why that major is useful for students.

If your major doesn't connect to the job you're applying for at all, this is also a chance to explain other ways you have developed skills that will fulfill the role you're applying for. For example, perhaps you were a theater major who is applying for a job in computer programming. You might explain that you took a number of online and extracurricular classes on programming to develop the skills needed for the job.

If you need help finding a relationship between a job and your major, review this list of college skills you can use to connect your education with the skills required for the job.

Keep in mind that while it’s important to connect your major to the potential job, you also want to be honest. An employer or interviewer will be able to tell if you are being insincere. Therefore, give an honest answer, but always tie that answer back to the job you’re applying for.

Examples of the Best Answers

I chose to be a nutritionist because I have always felt that poor eating habits came from poor knowledge. I wanted to help people get healthy by teaching them about food, not telling them what they can and cannot eat. As an exercise science/nutrition major, I became an expert on getting and staying healthy, and I cannot wait to work with clients. I'm looking forward to putting my excellent interpersonal skills and communication abilities to work, in addition to all that I've learned from my courses.

Why It Works: This answer shows how related the candidate's major is to the job at hand. Plus, the candidate does a nice job on mentioning his or her key skills, too.

I decided to get my degree in elementary education because teaching was something that has always come naturally to me. I have always enjoyed spending time with children, and when I am in the classroom I do not feel like I am working because I love being there! I feel that my effective listening and patience really help me connect with kids.

Why It Works: This answer makes it clear that the candidate's major is an extension of long-term interests and abilities.

Being a writer is something I always dreamed of doing. However, I did not know exactly what type of writing I wanted to do or how I was going to make it my career. When I was deciding on where to focus my studies in college, I chose to follow the professional writing degree program. I knew from the very first intro class that it was the major for me. I have graduated with such a vast range of experience and knowledge. I feel just as comfortable writing for a newspaper as I do writing a speech for a politician, and I have had experience in both, thanks to my major.

Why It Works: The candidate does a nice job here of tying the major to practical skills. Note that this response also makes it clear the candidate is comfortable with many forms of writing.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Be relevant: This is a question about you, of course, but do not forget that in an interview, your goal is to demonstrate you're a good candidate with every response. To that end, be sure to tie in how your major has given you skills that will be useful in the job at hand.

Show your passion: Interviewers are eager for candidates who can engage with work (and go beyond thinking of it as a means toward a paycheck). Don't shy away from expressing positive feelings about your major and being downright passionate about your studies. 

Be honest: Let interviewers get to know you through your response—aim to be genuine and sincere as you answer.

What Not to Say

Reasons that don't jibe with the job. If you're a creative writing major seeking a job as an accountant, you'll have to tread carefully. Those skills do not seem transferrable at first. If you cannot connect the major to the job at hand, try to mention other ways that you've grown the skills necessary for the role.

Financial reasons. Maybe you chose your major because you'll get a good salary. That's practical—but maybe not the best point to emphasize in an interview. Ideally, you'll come across as a passionate person with interests, and someone who's motivated by factors other than finances.

Possible Follow-up Questions

Key Takeaways

Connect your major to the role. Use your response as an opportunity to tell a story about how your major connects with your career goals.

Highlight your skills and abilities in the response. Show interviewers how your major has helped prepare you for doing excellent work in the role at hand. 

Be genuine. There’s no need to hide your passions and interest in your major—give interviewers a sense of who you are in your response.