Applying to graduate school is more than just filling out an application. You’ll often need to take the GRE, provide a few letters of recommendation, and also a clear outlook of your career goals. Along with that, you may also need to partake in an interview and answer grad school interview questions.
Acing your grad school interview questions can be tough. You have worked around the clock to receive your bachelor’s degree and you want to take your accomplishments and kick them into overdrive in a master’s degree program. But now the grad school interview has you worried.
If you’re looking to prepare yourself, read on to learn what the most common grad school interview questions are and how to answer them.
What to Know About Graduate School Interviews
A big part of graduate admissions is the list of in-depth graduate school interview questions. These will parse out some crucial information about your commitment to your field of study, research interests, and what your long-term goals are. A faculty member or a group of individuals may invite you to partake in an interview to see if you have the applicable experience to attend their respective graduate programs.
Like interviewing for a job, applicants will answer common questions about strengths and weaknesses, hobbies and interests, and anything relating to who you are outside of school.
Most Common Grad School Interview Questions
Let’s look at the most prevalent grad school interview questions you’ll likely be asked during the admissions process.
Tell Me About Yourself
This is an interview question you find nearly everywhere, whether applying to school or for a job. At first, it may seem pretty straightforward. However, the more you examine it, the more open-ended and intimidating it could appear.
This question is the perfect opportunity to get things started on the right foot. Give the faculty member a summarized version of your education. Were you a straight-A student? What accolades did you receive? How do your hobbies and interests tie into the major trends in the graduate program you’re applying for?
Give them a greatest hits version of your life story. Then tie your academic journey in with your future career goals.
Why Are You Interested in This Graduate Program?
When asked why you are interested in a grad program, your response must show that you have a firm grasp of the subject and plans to further the field of study. You should already have a firm grasp on why you applied to a particular graduate program, so this should be easy. Tell them all about your study interests and career plans.
What Are Your Career Goals?
While you don’t need to have a clear view of what you want to do years from now, you should at least have a general idea. Remember that whatever career path you answer with doesn’t mean it’s set in stone, so don’t take it to heart if you genuinely don’t know.
This is a pretty important question. However, it shouldn’t be too hard if you’ve gotten this far in graduate admissions. Do you want to use your degree to teach at a high level, such as becoming a professor? Or do you want to go into the fields of social science?
What Are You Reading?
While you may feel compelled to answer that you’ve been burning the midnight oil reading the newest murder mystery, answer this question with extreme care. This is not a simple question trying to illicit chit-chat on the faculty member’s part. Asking what you’ve recently been reading helps your interviewer better assess your intellectual abilities.
It’s a good idea to enter the interview with a few books or publications in mind. These should ideally relate to something you’re going to be working on in the graduate program.
If you apply to graduate school to study psychology, start reading some nonfiction on that subject. These can be articles, case studies, or books, all of which show you have a deep interest in your chosen topic and exhibit that you are willing to turn a passion into a career.
What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
The dreaded question. This is a tricky one, as no one wants to say they’re bad at anything, especially not in an interview where you’re supposed to exude confidence.
Pick a few applicable strengths to focus on. It helps if these strengths end up helping you in your career goals. For example, having good observation skills can assist you with something like psychology.
The difficulty is talking about weaknesses. This doesn’t exactly come naturally to us. However, you’ve probably heard that you need to turn weaknesses into strengths, and that’s true.
A good practice is to offer an example of weakness and show how you overcame it. For example, you may have struggled for years with not being assertive enough. However, during your undergraduate career, maybe you took the lead on group projects and excelled at public speaking.
Do You Have Any Questions?
You need to ask the interviewer questions. This shows you’re curious, thoughtful, and informed.
This is less of a graduate school interview question and more of a prompt. Under no circumstances do you tell them that you don’t have any questions. Doing so may come across as you being indifferent and you don’t want that if you want any hope of passing graduate admissions.
Try to prepare around five questions about the school, the graduate program, or the faculty. This shows you’ve done the appropriate research and have a vested interest in the school.
More importantly, it shows that you’ve put some serious thought behind the graduate admissions process. Ask about the program, career paths, major trends in the field, research interests, and more.
A little bonus to score significant points is to read up on faculty members and see if they’ve completed any studies or articles. Genuinely inquire about them and their findings. This isn’t only a fantastic way to impress an interviewer, but it also helps build a positive rapport between you and faculty members.
Conclusion: Prepare for Grad School Interview Questions
Hopefully, these common questions help you during the graduate admissions process. While they may vary from place to place, grad school interview questions try to nail down the same things.
Applying to graduate school is a big step and passing your interview with flying colors means you have a better chance of turning your career goals into a career path.