Ask the Expert: How can I get around a weak GPA?

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Don't get too hung up about this! Sure, it would be nice to be able to boast a brilliant GPA but remember that if you have got as far as an interview, an employer already likes the look of you on paper. It's your personal qualities and motivation that will be the deciding factors at this stage, not your grades.

With this in mind there are a couple of tactics for answering the GPA question. Top marks for not wanting to lie- that would be the kiss of death. What you want is to be truthful AND sound confident. Get flustered or act evasive and you will look unprepared and insecure. Now, that could lose you a job offer, not the GPA itself!

Your basic tactic should be honesty plus deflection, for example: "My GPA was X but a better reflection of my ability is Y" and pick an academic or other achievement you would like to highlight.

Alternatively, career coach Roger Steare suggests you throw the question back at the interviewer: "What importance do you place on GPA and why?" or "My GPA was X. How do you feel about that?" Depending on the answer you get, you then ask what you could do to demonstrate that you have the ability to do the job.

It takes greater confidence to pull Roger's approach off, so stick with the deflection tactic, if you're not too sure.

Whatever you decide, practice what you're going to say until it sounds easy and natural. Believe us, the 'problem' of your GPA will disappear

Readers advise

Being vague in your response to any question sounds like you have something to hide. This sets off alarm bells over something that might not actually be very important to the hiring company. A direct question should be answered with a direct (and truthful) response: "My graduating GPA was X". Be prepared for follow-on questions, such as

"How does that compare to other students?" or "How do you feel about your result?"

Use the interview to express the positive aspects of who you are, your ambitions, understanding of the business, and the research that you have done into the hiring firm. The one question about your GPA is just that: one question out of many to showcase other strengths. Companies are looking for the full package- above all, honesty.

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My main advice to you would be not to be ashamed of your GPA. If you explain your result like it doesn't actually mean anything, then that's exactly how they would take it. I got a 3rd class degree in Engineering in the UK (which is way below average) and still managed to get to a final round interview with a leading Investment firm. Explaining some of the circumstances might also help. Just exude confidence in all you say and it won't matter.

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Next week's question: I have been employed in a large investment bank as a junior trader for the past three years but am finding it hard to exit this junior role. Meanwhile, my graduate peers are being fast tracked and enjoy much more support than me. I am doing my best to reverse this situation but to no avail. What do you suggest?

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Look out for the Experts' answer to this dilemma and readers' comments on Ask the Expert next week!

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