graduate school interview questions and answers pdf

Attending graduate school is another major opportunity for personal growth and professional development. In graduate school, you’ll learn to apply the basic skills you acquired in your undergraduate career to the specific field of study you’ve chosen to pursue. Graduate school will provide you with opportunities to hone your skills and build your craft in the real world. And with a master’s degree in hand, you’ll be far more likely to catch the eyes of prominent employers down the road.

However, it’s also important to bear in mind that graduate school is a serious commitment, both personally and financially. It’s a career choice that often requires individuals to move to a new city, transplanting their entire lives and social circles in the process. It can also be quite expensive, which means that students often find themselves in debt after receiving their advanced degree. Like all major investments, however, graduate school can pay off in a serious way.

One of the most critical stages of the grad school application process is the interview. You can think of a grad school interview in a similar way that you would think about a job interview. At this stage of the process, you’ll be required to speak with an admissions officer (or a group of admissions officers) from your selected program, whose job it will be to closely scrutinize whether or not you’re suitable for a position within their program. As you can probably imagine, this stage in the process can be stressful, and it tends to make many grad school applicants feel nervous.

Top 10 Grad School Interview Questions and Answers

5. Tell me about a time you failed.

When asked about failure, consider using the STAR method to explain how you handled the failure and learned from it. Interviewers will be assessing your attitude about failure and how you overcome challenges. Graduate school programs are often very rigorous and require students to be committed to overcoming failures. Especially because you are interviewing to be part of an educational environment, use this question to display your ability to learn from past mistakes.

Example: “During my Intro to Chemistry course, I completely ruined my first experiment. I remember feeling very embarrassed but eventually worked up the courage to meet my professor after class to discuss how to prevent future mistakes and go over safety procedures. I learned so much from that one-on-one time and continued to have a mentorship relationship with that professor throughout college. I think that failing is the best way to learn, as long as you have the ability to seek out improvement and ask for help.”

Grad School Interview Question #2: Why our school/program?

In responding to this question, you need to be specific. You absolutely do not want to go on about what an illustrious or renowned school/program it is. They know what their “ranking” is; they don’t need applicants to tell them that. Instead, what is it about the curriculum at that school that fits your own learning style or needs? What faculty member(s) would you like work with, and why do you want to work with them? Do you have a potential supervisor in mind (and, if so, have you reached out to them yet, to ensure they’re taking on students and interested in your intended course of study? Note: if you haven’t done this by the time you get the invitation to interview, then you need to do so prior to the interview, if at all possible!)? What current projects or initiatives are underway in that department, and why would you want to be a part of these? What can this specific school/program give you that others cannot? How do your own goals and priorities align with those of the department? These are the kinds of things you must speak to when asked this question – and, yes, you have to be able to do this with EVERY program to which you are applying!

Grad School Interview Question #8: Specifics on past publications or projects/Can you explain your research (or research interests) in a way that would be comprehensible to non-specialists?

If you’ve listed something in your application and/or CV, you must be prepared to talk about it with your interviewers. In an open-file interview, they can ask you about anything in your application. Even in a closed-file interview, you may still get the variant question above, which means that you should still be prepared to talk about your past work. Moreover, you need to be able to explain it with a non-specialist. While you’re likely to interview with someone in the department to which you are replying, they may still be from a very different area of specialization than the one you’ve pursued so far. Ensure you can break down key concepts, unpack complex jargon, and explain the things you’ve done as if you were speaking to someone with no specific knowledge in the area. While you’ll likely learn additional methodologies and approaches as part of your graduate education, you still need to be able to discuss your own work and interests, demonstrate the skills and competencies you’ve already started polishing, and stir your listener’s interest by demonstrating both enthusiasm and nuanced, trenchant consideration of the field and the contributions you’d like to make to scholarship (broadly defined – inside and outside of academe).


How do you answer tell me about yourself in a graduate school interview?

Grad School Interview Questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to study at our school?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If accepted, what will be your biggest challenge here?
  • How has your professional experience (or education) prepared you to succeed in this program?
  • What are your career goals?

What kind of questions do they ask in a graduate school interview?

Common interview questions for fresh grads (sample answers included)
  • Tell me a bit about yourself. …
  • Why do you want to work here? …
  • How have you demonstrated leadership qualities at university? …
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? …
  • Where do you want to be in five years’ time? …
  • What is your greatest achievement?

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers fresh graduate?

Academic success, awards, accomplishments and publications are all examples of positive contributions to a graduate program. To answer this question effectively, research the program thoroughly and relate your goals and interests to the department’s recent work.

How do you answer why should we accept you grad school?

Academic success, awards, accomplishments and publications are all examples of positive contributions to a graduate program. To answer this question effectively, research the program thoroughly and relate your goals and interests to the department’s recent work.

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