How To Explain A Low GPA In A Job Interview
In this post, I will help you with exactly what to focus on so that you can feel the best and most confident, even if your grades aren’t ideal.
Let’s dive in!
First I want to start with this:
1. Manage your focus.
What you think about and what you focus on directly affects your confidence. You are in complete control of how you feel before an interview.
➢ You can either feel confident and excited (still a little nervous – that’s normal).
➢ Defeated before you even begin, by thinking about your grades, or other candidates that may or may not be better than you for the role.
First off: if you have an interview already lined up, then you have a chance. That’s better than no interview, so already you have an advantage. You need to focus on what that means.
2. Know what being called for an interview means:
➢ You’re worth taking time to meet or speak with.
➢ You have the capabilities on paper for the job.
➢ You have a shot at this role.
Great. That’s your first area of focus – read the above a few times if you need to.
3. Get a good understanding of the position you are going for.
➢ Study the specific position.
➢ Study other job descriptions online for similar positions.
➢ Speak to people in similar roles.
➢ Get a full understanding by asking questions or researching online and getting the answers to the following questions or similar ones.
Feel free to come up with your own, but these are some examples:
What is this role really like?
What does a day in the life look like?
What are the most important skills and strengths required to do this role really well?
The truth is that in the field, on the job, your grades will usually not have a ton to do with your performance on the job. They will be training you to do things their specific way anyway.
4. Use stories and counter examples.
What if they ask about my grades?
Well can you prove that you graduated?
Having been in so many interviews, I’ve never come across that would-be road blocker.
As long as you’ve passed, it doesn’t need to stop you.
Medical school and law school is different. Would you want a surgeon with bad grades operating on you? Or would you want a lawyer with awful grades representing you?
If they had previous positive outcomes I would be fine with it.
➢ Get really clear on your strengths in terms of how they align with the position.
➢ Get stories together on how your strengths are applicable to the role.
➢ As a last resort, maybe you need to do some upgrading if you’re finding this is actually stopping you.
But I don’t believe it needs to, and until you’ve been out on interviews and you’re getting feedback that no one is hiring you specifically because of your grades, then all you need to do is work on your interview skills.
Lots of people get great jobs with no education at all. So if you have a completion certificate or a certificate of graduation, you are ahead of a lot of people already.
5. If they directly ask… Come clean, be honest but give a reason
If there is just no way around it. You’ll need to be honest. There’s no point in avoiding the subject, giving an evasive answer or deflecting this question.
That will hurt you more than just coming clean. Because they can request transcripts or find your grades if they really wanted to, and if they request them and you’re not willing to give them. That is still worse than just telling the truth.
If you’ve won them over, if you’ve done a great job in the interview, if they have already decided that they like you (maybe even love you). They will look for ways to disregard your shortcomings. Because they want to be right.
So if they’ve decided they like you, they will only be looking for reasons to back that up, and continue to prove themselves right.
So if you have bad grades and they directly ask you what your grades are like?
You will need to answer.
They will admire the fact that you’re able to be honest about it. Even better if you can give them a good reason for why. It could be because your time was pulled away by other things.
For example working a full time or part time job, or taking care of a sick parent or family member. Try to give them something so that they can sympathize with you. No one is perfect. We are all imperfect humans. They know this too.
So ideally you can explain yourself while coming across as a competent candidate who didn’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to school.
➢ Remember to manage your focus.
➢ Know what being called for an interview means.
➢ Get a good understanding of the position you are going for.
➢ Use stories and counter examples.
➢ Honesty is the best last resort.
Remember that they may or may not ask about specific grades. If they do, have an answer ready. Be honest.
You need to prove (with stories) that your grades don’t define you as a person or as an employee.
So, if you’d like to dive deeper with me…
If you want some help coming up with your own impressive story answers for interview questions…
If you have ever blanked when asked one of these questions…
I’ve got you covered in my famous downloadable guide.
All you have to do is click on the image below to get it.
What you’ll get inside the guide:
Top-ten examples of stories that have proven to be impressive interview answers
The S.A.R.I. formula breakdown of how to answer these questions
The step-by-step of why it works
Fill-in-the-blank templates for each question so, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks and get going!
Now you’ll need to come up with your own stories! (You can steal the ones in the guide if they apply to you though too, I don’t mind)
If you are still getting stuck because you can’t think of your own stories…
I’ve included 25 questions that you can ask yourself to come up with your stories much quicker!
You’ll get all this in a beautifully designed workbook prepared specifically for you to prepare for your interviews.
By the end of working through this guide, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for any situational interview that comes your way!
Here is some feedback I’ve gotten from this guide, and I get new emails like this every day, and they NEVER get old!
Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favour and share this info with him/her.
And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.
I’ll see you next time and I can’t wait!
In Work & Life
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