As a college or high-school student, your grade point average (GPA) is one of the most important metrics by-which a potential employer can go off-of. Your grade point average provides employers with a view of how studious, focused, and concentrated you are in school. And since most college or high-school students don’t have too much work experience, you may opt to include your GPA on your resume. But how do you discuss a low GPA at an interview?
We’ve discussed previously whether or not you should include your grade point average on your resume. We also understand the temptation to include your GPA, as it may be difficult to include additional work experience while you are a full-time college or high-school student. However, unless you have a grade point average of 3.5 or above, you should try to avoid including it on your resume.
However, a stellar grade point average is also dependent on a variety of factors. For one, the consideration should be paid to your GPA relative to your peers and classmates. If you are in a difficult or challenging program, then a lower GPA may be expected. So long as that average is in-line with or better than your classmates and peers, then it can be acceptable to place on your resume.
Secondly, you can opt to include your major or concentration GPA if it is higher than your general GPA. Doing so may look more favorably to employers in specific industries that care more on a student’s core and concentration capabilities. In addition, many of these employers prefer that a student is more well-versed and knowledgeable in a specific industry and they pay less attention to the general courses.
Discussing GPA During An Interview
If a recruiter or hiring manager begins to discuss your GPA during an interview, your best approach is to be honest and transparent on your current average. It is extremely easy for an employer to request your official transcript. If an employer sees that you lied about your GPA, it may be grounds for dismissal. More so, you may be blacklisted from working at the company in the near future.
Under the assumption that you had listed your GPA on your resume, the mere fact that an interview was extended should be solace that the recruiter or hiring manager saw something in your application that piqued their interest. This should help you relax and not worry too much about the lower GPA.
If you did not list your GPA on your resume and it gets brought up during an interview, you have a few ways to discuss. The first is to show improvement. Employers love improvement, especially when it can be proven. If you had a rough or difficult first semester or year in college, but bounced back during your sophomore year, you can show that to the recruiter or hiring manager.
Something along the lines of, “Currently, my overall GPA is a 2.85. This is largely due to a difficult first semester in which I was acclimating to the needs and requirements of a college student. I have been able to successfully bounce back from that initial semester and my second semester grades are proof of that fact.”
The second way to discuss a low GPA is to be honest about your challenges and difficulties. You shouldn’t lie or exaggerate, but if something difficult or external did occur which affected your grades, feel free to bring it up and to discuss it with the recruiter or hiring manager.
The third way to discuss a low GPA at an interview is to discuss what else you were doing. If you were working or taking care of a family member or a child at home or were captain of a varsity sport, then explain it. The interviewer is likely to understand those reasons and may place less emphasis on your GPA.
The last way to discuss a low GPA is to focus on your major or concentration GPA. So long as that GPA is stronger than your general GPA, you can discuss how your GPA in classes which genuinely interest you are higher and how those classes directly relate to the position you are applying for.
Interviews are about showing your strengths and areas of growth. While a low GPA makes procuring an interview slightly more difficult, it can also offer you an opportunity to discuss your strengths. Always focus on improvement and how you have done better semester-over-semester. In addition, feel free to discuss any extenuating circumstances and how those may have played a role.