Interview Question: Discuss a Time Coursework Knowledge Payed Off at Work

Nilda Melissa Diaz
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, Career Advice Contributor Last Updated: December 07, 2022
Give A Time Where You Applied Previous Knowledge In Another Class

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Behavioral interview questions are becoming a more significant part of the interviewing process. These questions differ from the traditional questions that deal with concrete facts by being more abstract. They deal with personal attributes, work ethic and mindset. Behavior-based questions have many possible answers, which make them much more difficult to answer- although they are very important.

Interviewers are trying to get insight into what kind of worker you would be by asking behavioral questions. The best approach to giving a strong answer is to think about what the interviewer is likely trying to gauge, deciding how you want to present yourself or what attribute you want to exemplify, and then incorporating all these elements into your answer. The behavioral interview question, ‘Give an example of how you applied knowledge from previous coursework’ seems unusual, so you should think about why you might be asked it. Usually, the interviewer is trying to get an idea of how you incorporate structural ideas and concepts and build upon them as you advance. You may also be asked, ‘How often do you incorporate ideas gained while in school?’ or ‘How has your education influenced your daily actions while working?’ When answering, you should be sure to use the STAR method and be as specific as possible to provide adequate information.

How to Answer the ‘Give an Example of How You Applied Knowledge From Previous Coursework to a Project in Another Class’ Behavioral Interview Question

1. Use the STAR Method

There is a standard answering method that ensures you use the proper structure and include the information that the interviewer is looking for. You should use this strategy for each of the behavioral interview questions that you are asked. The STAR method is:

  • ST – Situation or task. Typically, to start your answer, you should describe whatever situation or challenge you faced. For this question specifically, you may either begin by explaining the original coursework that started your foundation or the second situation where you had to recall what you originally learned.
  • A – Action. The question already assumes that you are applying your acquired knowledge, so this cannot be the extent of the action you take. Instead, list specifically how applying this knowledge physically took place. How did it influence you and improve your work?
  • R – Results. Finally, you should describe the results of your actions. It is best if you have a concrete statistic to share, but simply stating that you were able to succeed because of your previous experience is also acceptable.

Following this simple plan will help guarantee that your answer fits what the interviewer is looking for. This is a standard strategy, so you should not be afraid to follow it exactly for every behavioral question.

2. Focus on Improving

The whole point of this question is to establish that you continuously improve rather than stay in the same place. Communicating this aspect is more important than the specifics of your actual answer. Your answer should make it clear that you set the foundation and have been gradually building upon it in a pattern that continues to the present and will continue if hired for the position. Hiring managers are not interested in recruiting employees that will only do their job and nothing more, so you should show that you will go the extra mile and try to do a better job over time.

3. Be as Relevant as Possible

If you follow all the previous tips, you will give a very strong answer, but you will also be missing out on another opportunity. You will be explaining how you exemplify continuous improvement, but you should also use a relevant skill or set of knowledge as the example. In addition to providing everything the interviewer is looking for, this will also communicate that you have a specific skill as a bonus. This should not be a problem if your educational background is in the same field as the job you are applying for.

Sample ‘Give an Example of How You Applied Knowledge From Previous Coursework to a Project in Another Class’ STAR Interview Answer

As an expert in relations, my education began learning the basics of communication. This proved to be the foundation for my entire education. As I advanced, I would come back to the interpersonal relations knowledge that I acquired. In particular, I remember a project we had that required us to go out and interact with members of different cultures in different ways. I was only able to complete the assignment because of the skills I had already developed. In fact, I am still putting these foundational skills into practice now that I have entered the working world and am working toward advancing in my career.

Follow these simple tips to ensure your answers to the behavioral interview questions you will face are as strong as possible.

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