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Five Questions To Expect From A Graduate School Interview

Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

Ask any student who has been interviewed to recount their experience and you are more than likely to uncover the following reaction:

"If I had just known the questions I would have aced it!"

Interviews are effective because they are unpredictable. They challenge students to articulate their candidacy in person and provide an admissions committee with information that a resume alone can't fulfill. To alleviate pre-interview jitters and increase your chances for success, let's examine five interview questions that you can prepare for:

1.    "What role do you most often fulfill in collaborative work environments?"

Graduate school isn't an independent venture. As such, the interviewer will want to get a sense of how you approach working with others. It's important to address any leadership experiences you've had and what strategies you use to overcome group challenges.

2. "I see you researched ________ as an undergraduate. Tell me about your research - any recent developments in the field?”

A graduate school interview will almost certainly touch on your undergraduate experiences. Be sure to revisit any relevant research you've completed. This question affords you an opportunity to succinctly present and analyze a topic.

3. "What are your career goals for after graduate school?

What appears to be a single inquiry on the surface is often multi-layered. This question will help uncover your long-term goals and motivations and how they align with your program of interest. It's helpful to think in terms of a cause/effect scenario. In other words, what is your purpose for being apart of our program, and what effect will your time here have? The more specific you can be the better!

4. "We have hundreds of highly qualified applicants, what makes you stand out from the crowd?"
Here's where self-reflection kicks in. This question can help uncover personal attributes and in-terests that they may have slipped thru the cracks on paper. Focus on your unique skills and strengths and be specific in describing what qualities, experiences and goals define you.

5. "Before we wrap-up, do you have questions I can answer?”

While this question may be a formality, it still has real value during the interview. A good rule of thumb is to avoid questions that are easily answered by looking on a website or brochure. A few unique and thought-provoking questions are a great way to leave the interviewer with a positive impression.

(Contact Stephen at stephen@acceptu.com, 617-424-0700 or visit www.AcceptU.com. )

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