When you are applying for an entry-level position, a typical job interview question is "What college subjects did you like best, and why?”
Depending on your major—and the role at hand—this may not feel like a very relevant question. But your response can help give interviewers a bit of information and insight about you. Plus, in some cases, you may be able to build a connection between your education and the job at hand.
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
An employer might ask this for a number of reasons.
This question allows them to get a sense of what you are passionate about. Employers tend to prefer candidates who have interests and passions, even ones that aren't strongly linked to the role. This can be a good "getting to know you" question that opens up a conversation and helps the interviewer understand you a bit better.
Your response can also demonstrate what skills you have developed in school that might apply to the job.
How to Answer Questions About College Subjects
When answering this question, you want to be honest, but also keep the job in mind. That is, if you can create a connection between classes and the job at hand, that's beneficial. When answered thoughtfully, your answer to this question can demonstrate how your interests, skills, and past achievements make you a strong fit for the position.
Examples of the Best Responses
Here are sample interview answers that you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background:
Example Letter #1
My favorite classes in college were those in the hard sciences. In particular, I thrived in my chemistry and organic chemistry classes. I loved the process of discovery in the laboratory. In fact, I served as a lab assistant for a year, helping freshmen who were struggling with their chemistry lab assignments. This interest in lab work and scientific exploration is a big reason why I am passionate about a career in pharmaceuticals.
Why It Works: This answer builds a bridge between education and the person's career choices.
Example Answer #2
I loved my music and art classes in school. I knew nothing about music or art when entering college, but when I took my first class, I fell in love. These courses acted as an escape from the strenuous world of academia. They also allowed me to express myself creatively, which I never knew I could do. I think my passion for these kinds of classes will serve me well in the field of marketing, which requires this kind of creative thinking.
Why It Works: With this response, the candidate is able to call out their openness to learning new things as well as how favorite classes give them valuable skills for the role at hand.
Example Answer #3
My English courses are most interesting and beneficial to me. I love creative and nonfiction writing. Whether I am writing a creative narrative, biographical piece, or poetry, I love to write. The skills I have developed in my English classes have been extremely beneficial in my other coursework, and I have developed tremendously as a writer. I have even published poetry in my college’s literary magazine and served as an assistant editor of the magazine for the past two years.
Why It Works: This answer demonstrates the candidate's passion for writing—as well as their skill at it.
Tips for Giving the Best Answer
- Be Honest: First and foremost, you don’t want to lie. Be honest about what you were interested in as a college student. Even if the subject you loved is not directly related to the job, you can still mention it.
- Be Positive: While you should be honest, you also want to stay positive. Use this question as a chance to show what you are passionate about and how it aligns with the job. Oftentimes, classes and positive experiences in your targeted field of study will be catalysts for the career path you are taking, so this question provides a great opportunity for positive discussion.
- Keep the Job Requirements in Mind: Think of ways you can connect your experiences in a school subject to the skills required for the job. Sometimes this will be very obvious. For example, if you are applying for a job as an accountant, and your favorite subject was math, you can explain how your interest and skills in math have prepared you for the job. Sometimes, the connections are subtler. For example, if you are applying for a job as a paralegal, and your favorite subject was English, you can emphasize how you developed strong written and oral communication skills in English.
- Mention Related Achievements: When possible, mention any awards or achievements related to your favorite subjects. For example, if you won an award in the subject, or took advanced classes, mention these successes. It is a great chance to provide more examples of why you are an outstanding candidate.
What to Avoid
- Don't Be Negative. Answers like “I wasn’t that interested in any subject” will make you seem like someone without interests, and without drive.
- Or Indifferent. Similarly, you should be able to name at least one subject that you enjoyed. Not being able to will make employers wonder if you lack motivation.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Tell me about yourself. - Best Answers
- What motivates you? - Best Answers
- What are you passionate about? Best Answers
- Describe situations where you have used your leadership skills. - Best Answers
- Describe your most rewarding college experience. - Best Answers
- If I were to ask your professors to describe you in three words, what would they be? - Best Answers
BE RELEVANT IF POSSIBLE. If there's a way to connect your favorite college classes to the job at hand, do so!
SHOW YOUR PASSION. Don't be hesitant to talk about why you liked these classes, even if it's not totally relevant to the role.
STAY POSITIVE. Be upbeat and enthusiastic in your tone—don't be negative or dull.