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Education.  There’s usually a prerequisite of some kind for any job interview.  On your application you fill in the blanks next to the appropriate levels you’ve achieved and you hope that you don’t have too much or too little that your resume gets overlooked.

But, once you land a job interview there are a myriad of interview questions that dance around your education as it relates to your experience and many job seekers miss this opportunity to define education for themselves to demonstrate their fit for the position.

The questions can come in all shapes and forms: How has your education prepared you for your career? Where did you go to school?  What certifications do you have?  Describe your educational background?  Tell me about your background and experience? Etc.

The majority of candidates will quickly address that they have a High School Diploma or a Bachelors Degree in (Fill in the Blank) from XYZ University, but while that information may tell the interviewer if you fit the basic criteria, it doesn’t give them any more information about your true experience.

Two different people may have gone to the same school, at the same time, for the same degrees, but received very different educations.  One person may not have gone to school at all but has more practical education as it pertains to the role than someone who sat in classes all day.

When posed a question about education in the job interview, it’s yet another chance for a job seeker to define their education and show why they’re the one who should be selected for the position.

With accelerated competition in the workforce for jobs, shouldn’t you take every advantage you can to sell yourself for the role?  Don’t allow such easy questions to slip by and miss an opportunity to show off your education and how it directly relates to the responsibilities of the position at hand.

Many forget that education isn’t just defined by a degree.  Get specific.  Education goes beyond degrees and certifications to life skills, volunteer opportunities, mentorships, internships, auditing classes, studying under industry leaders, life lessons from prior roles, guidance from teachers, personal projects, and more.

This is the reason many job postings state a requirement of a degree OR equivalent life experience.  But, it’s up to you, the job applicant to show what that life experience is because an interviewer can’t always read between the lines of your resume.

Make it clear in the application and the interview so that your education and your experience help you to stand out, not just check off a requirement box.

This is especially true for those who fit the equivalent life experience bucket, because if you don’t clearly show why you’re a fit above someone with a degree, when interviewers are on the fence they more often tend to go with a candidate with a piece of paper because there’s less doubt, regardless of the validity of the assumption.

When’s the last time you thought about how you define your education and educational history?  Before you step into your next job interview assess how your education has defined you and prepared you for the role you seek.  Instead of just rattling off schools you attended, align examples and results from your educational background to the competencies for the career you want to embark on and speak to it in the interview.

Never let a missed opportunity to show your fit for the role be the difference between you and another candidate getting the job.

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