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How to Answer 6 Pesky Job-Hunting Questions


When family and friends check in to see how you’re doing, they usually ask questions about college and work. Unfortunately, their genuine curiosity can seem more like nagging and unnecessary concern. It’s hard to remember that they’re just checking in because they care—but HC is here to help! Here, we break down some common annoying questions and give you the best ways to respond. Next time you find yourself drowning in a sea of tough questions, consider this your lifesaver!

job search

 “You still don’t have a job?”

This question poses a threat to those who are struggling in the ever-competitive job search. As if you aren’t stressed enough! The lastthing you need is someone making it worse. As a recent grad from the University of Michigan, Marissa Smith says she gets asked this question all the time. “I am constantly going to job interviews, but so is everyone else. As young candidates, we are all faced with the same challenge. But it’s important to remember that the right position will eventually come along.”

The best strategy is to be open about your struggle. Many people make the mistake of coming across as defensive. So tell whoever’s asking that it’s been hard for you to get interviews, but you’re systematically contacting companies about available positions and staking out various opportunities. If they try to give you advice, don’t be so quick to dismiss their comments. Your relative or friend might be able to provide you with fresh, new ideas about a strategy. If you want their help, try being proactive and asking if they have any contacts relevant to your career field. For example, respond with: “I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve been actively looking for and applying to jobs, but I haven’t had much luck. Do you know anyone who might be able to help?” As an assistant director for social media and innovation at the UNC Chapel Hill career center, Gary Miller frequently encourages students to utilize their resources. “Sometimes family members make great networking connections!”

“Why don’t you get an internship this semester?”

We understand that landing an internship is no easy task, but a lot of older relatives seem to forget that simple fact. Even our parents are guilty of this. When you’re pressured to snag a coveted internship, remain calm and don’t get offended. Tell people that you are applying to internships that relate to your career interests. You are actively sending out your resume and following up with potential employers. If you clearly explain your plan, your family will stop bugging you about something you already have under control.

According to career expert Heather Huhman, a generation gap can often spark this question. “You probably need to remember that things were different when your family members were looking for an internship. Although they may think it's a simple task, you might need to gently remind them that in a tough job market these opportunities are competitive and, for some fields, difficult to land.”

If you’re not interested in pursuing an internship, respond by saying that you’re focusing on your classes this semester. Say that you want to work hard academically so that you’ll have an impressive GPA to put on your resume. Your family members can’t argue with that!

job interview meeting student

“What job can you get with that major?”

This one is all too commonly heard by collegiettes. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenge of finding the right major. After all, you want to strike a balance between something you enjoy and something you can succeed in post-grad. So although considering others’ advice is important, don’t let someone else dictate what you do.

As an English communications major, Salve Regina student Emma St. Laurent experiences this a lot. Thankfully, she’s found an effective and efficient way to respond. “Normally, I just say I want to do editorial work. It is easier to say something broad, because then it will open up room for more questions, such as ‘What are you interested in?’"  To steal Emma’s strategy, avoid being too specific about your intended career path. Instead, shift the focus of the conversation to some of your passions and interests. “It’s hard to know exactly what you'll be doing after college, especially when you are studying a very broad, liberal arts major. Talking about what you’re interested in, rather than exactly what you’re going to be doing, is often easier,” says Huhman.

“You might also want to tell family members that your degree won't completely dictate your future career,” Huhman explains. “Many folks who have degrees in fields that work with one another—such as journalists and public relations professionals—sometimes find themselves working in the opposite field once they've gained some experience and learned about their preferences.” Respond with: “My major actually has a lot of potential career paths. (Name some of them.) I’m also planning on meeting with a career counselor to discuss all of my options.”

“Why don’t you study something more practical?”

Some people take it one step further and end up coming off as pushy and rude. It’s inconsiderate of someone to judge your major choice, but be prepared to stick up for what you want to study. In this scenario, it’s OK to defend yourself and explain your reasoning. “In answering this question, you can emphasize your interests and strengths in the particular field you decided to study,” says Huhman. For example, if your aunt is giving you a hard time about pursuing film studies, back up your decision. Say something like, “I’m really interested in film and I see it as an important part of my life in the long-run. It’s important to me to study something that I feel confident in. I’ve learned about a lot of different careers that I can pursue with my major.”

Miller believes that all majors can offer valuable skill sets to students. “Generally employers are interested in things like communication skills, teamwork and critical thinking. Any good liberal arts education will give every student those skills. So, the right choice is to study something you’re interested in, and then supplement those courses with practical experiences that will help further your career goals.” Referencing the future will show that you have thought about things realistically. To ensure that you’re prepared, do a little more research on the field that you’re studying. Next time, you’ll be able to provide your family with some potential job titles and put an end to their prying. 

“How will you support yourself and make enough money?”


Sometimes, relatives worry that you won’t be able to support yourself after graduation. They have your best interests in mind, but their concern can seem overbearing and condescending. If you’re still in college, simply explain that you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it. Reassure them that if you have a hard time making ends meet, you can take on a part-time job while you interview for a position in your desired field.

UCLA student Mia has a surefire game plan for this type of question. “Whenever my parents bug me about my future financial situation, it really gets to me. It makes me feel like they don’t trust me to make responsible decisions. But I’ve learned ways to make them understand that that I’ll be totally fine. I say things like, ‘You two have given me a great example of how to successfully manage money.  I feel confident in terms of budgeting money and taking care of my own living expenses. I know that if I work hard and keep up with my studies, I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be.’” Like Mia, it’s important to respond logically to these types of questions.

“Why do you want to waste money on grad school?”

Huhman says to use logical reasoning when approaching this question. “If, in order to land your dream job, you need a graduate degree, share this with your family. They may simply be asking because they are unfamiliar with the industry.” Respond with: “With the job field being so competitive, I feel like going to grad school will give me the edge I need to succeed in ____.”

If your family still doesn’t buy your explanation, try speaking with people who have been in your shoes. “Talk with other students about what they got out of grad school and share these stories with your family to show them the true benefits of a further education,” Huhman says.


Remember collegiettes, don’t let annoying comments from friends and family get you down. Approach their questions with these smart strategies and you’ll be out of any dreaded situation before you know it!

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