Economics majors pursue a wide variety of careers. Our economics interview questions and answers guide will help you translate your coursework and experiences into answers for these common questions.
Most job interviews will include questions about who you are and why you're a good fit for the job. Interview questions for economics graduates will likely include queries intended to probe your aptitude.
"They should expect to be given a problem and asked how they would approach that problem," says Calvin Blackwell, Ph.D., chair of the economics department at the College of Charleston. "(These include) what information they would need, how they would find the information, and what sort of database you would work with."
If the job you're interviewing for is with a management consultant company, expect to encounter in-depth case studies, which will present you with a specific scenario and require you to respond with a real-world solution. To ace this type of interview, check out our guide to preparing for a case study interview.
If you're interviewing for a general position, expect your potential employer to ask you about the items you listed in your resume and cover letter. Questions will cover your economics coursework and your ability to analyze data sets and work with numbers.
Here are some specific questions you might encounter; these questions are intended to assess general fit, competency, analytical skills and problem-solving abilities.
General fit with company and position
1. What are your long-term career goals?
Here's your chance to describe your long-term ambitions and how this position fits into those goals. Don't go into too much detail, but offer a few specifics to show that you see this position as the best next step on your path.
2. Describe a project you completed.
Here's where your preparation will pay off. Offer specific details about the project and how you brought it to a successful conclusion. Perhaps you pitched in on a fundraiser as part of your sorority, or you worked an internship and assisted with research. This is your opportunity to show that you can get the job done.
3. What was your favorite economics or math course?
If the job you're applying for will include working with numbers or analyzing company sales, this is the place where you can try to tie in your love of econometrics or the psychology of economics.
Some questions are designed to assess your ability to take on responsibility in the workplace.
4. What was the biggest project you worked on in school? Take me through the steps from start to finish.
5. Did you have any leadership roles while in college? What did you learn from that experience?
You should walk into the interview knowing how you plan to demonstrate your competency, which is simply your ability to work efficiently and effectively. Think through all the internships, volunteer jobs, school projects and any work experience you have. Prepare specific examples that show you've worked hard and followed through.
Maybe you organized a coat drive as a volunteer, or you worked as a research assistant on a project with your favorite professor. Any experience is good experience when it comes to demonstrating competency.
Some economic interview questions are designed to see how you think.
6. If you had to solve a problem, how would you go about it?
7. What information do you need before making a decision?
Your answers to these types of questions should provide specific examples of how you research problems. Do you know how to use Excel and rely on spreadsheets to organize data? Get specific on how you drill down into data sets to solve problems and demonstrate the strength of your critical thinking skills. Talk about any programs or databases you have experience with, whether that's Stata or World Bank Open Data. Your resume's skill section is your reference point for listing these kinds of technical skills.
The interviewer wants to understand how you approach complex situations and find solutions.
8. Tell me about a time you faced a serious challenge in completing an assignment and how you handled it.
9. Talk about a time you worked in a group, what the challenges were, and how you managed it.
Try to demonstrate that you are proactive and can thrive in stressful situations. If you had a conflict with a professor but still earned an A in the class, use that experience to show your ability to manage a tough situation. If you worked on a group project and had to lead teammates who didn't meet their deadlines, explain how you handled that. If you organized a special event and it rained on the big day, demonstrate how you managed to stay positive.
Here's a final note as you prepare for your job interview: When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, always have some questions. This is a great opportunity to ask about specific information on company culture, day to day work environment and anything else that shows you've done your research. Your questions and your answers will demonstrate how you drill down and think things through, both of which are essential skills for someone who wants to work in economics.
Not only can a well-written resume and cover letter earn you an interview, but reviewing your own education and experience will be incredibly helpful as you prepare for the interviewer's questions.
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