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Grad School Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Are you preparing for graduate school interview questions? If yes, then you are getting close to the final stage of your application. Great job, you’ve passed almost everything! Now you have the last but nonetheless important step to take.

Undergoing a professional interview requires some serious preparation. You should review your overall academic success, prepare to explain your goals and reasons why you should enter this graduate school. Do some research about career options that become available after it. Of course, it would be great to know beforehand what questions will be asked. In this article we’ll help you with that so stay tuned!

Grad School Interview: How to Prepare

Let’s continue talking about preparing for a graduate school interview. Here are some useful steps:

  1. Get familiar with the school’s program. You’ll need to show your interest and explain your personal motivations. Check out their website materials and read recommendations and requirements which are available there.
  2. Prepare for answering some common questions, e.g. what are your goals. If possible try asking previous applicants what they have been asked about.
  3. Don’t try to memorize answers to all these questions. During the interview, you should sound natural. Try to follow the STAR method when answering such questions. Talk about some specific situation, task, action, and result.
  4. Prepare some helpful materials and take them with you to the interview. Your resume or some documents related to your academic success.
  5. Consider dressing well as it will be a formal event.

Grad School Interview Questions With Example Answers

So let’s review the most common grad school interview questions. Some of them would be related to the school's program, while some are likely to be more general. The interview process may vary throughout colleges and depends on the interviewers. But there are some typical questions students get asked. About their previous education, their goals and maybe their personality.

Below you’ll find most typical graduate school interview questions and answers divided into several main groups:

  • general
  • academic
  • personal.

Let’s go and check them out together!

Graduate School Interview Questions: General

This is a type of interview questions for students which are asked in any school regardless of its program. The goal is to provide them with basic information about yourself, your interests and plans for the future.

Here are several common graduate school interview questions. We’ve also provided example of answers for you:

  1. Tell us about yourself?


    I’m from Newtown city. This spring I’ll be graduating from Newtown's Blackwood college with a degree in Applied Math. I’ve always been interested in learning about numerical systems and how math can help solving complex problems. I'm hardworking, attentive to details and eager to learn even more about applying math in high tech fields.
  2. Why did you choose our school?


    I want to continue my studies in graduate school because I feel I should obtain deeper knowledge about applied math in Engineering areas. Getting such a degree would help me in pursuing my career goal after graduation.
  3. Why are you interested in this field?


    My goal is to start a career in the STEM field. I dream about participating in a large-scale robotics or AI project. Such autonomous and smart computerized systems are our future. So I’d love to participate in their design.
  4. Why do you think we should accept you?


    I’m looking forward to bringing some value to your school’s community and culture while continuing my education in it. And I hope I will make a positive impact on science and also on our society’s life after getting my dream job in the STEM field.
  5. How will you contribute to our school?


    I wanted to publish some of my papers in an academic journal while studying in the Blackwood college. So I worked with several of my professors to learn how to do so. As a result, I’ve had two of my essays accepted by academic journals. I'm planning to continue publishing innovative research and thus support the amazing work your school is doing.

Graduate School Interview Questions: Academic

These are typical school interviews questions, which focus on your academic experience. You might be asked about your past projects as well as the future ones you plan to accomplish.

Here are some examples:

  1. Describe your undergraduate background and explain how it prepared you for our school.


    During my undergraduate period I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with different engineering programs and developed a great interest in computer engineering. Last year I decided to focus on AI systems. And I hope I proceed studying them in graduate school.
  2. Which school subjects have you enjoyed the most?


    I chose to take a variety of courses, from math to engineering and history, in order to get a broader understanding of human society. By the end of my undergraduate period I developed a huge interest in computer engineering.
  3. Which school subjects have been most difficult for you?


    During my first year I enrolled into a sociology course. Unfortunately I found it difficult to understand the program. I managed to complete this course but understood that I’m not motivated enough to proceed studying in this field.
  4. What was your greatest achievement?


    My greatest accomplishment is participating in a group assignment which was to prepare a presentation about recent trends in robotics. I volunteered to be a coordinator of our team and we’ve managed to collect many interesting materials just in time. When I start graduate school, I hope I will bring that spirit of cooperation and contribute to some activities and causes.
  5. Tell us about a time when you have failed.


    During my first year, I completely ruined my first practical assignment. This felt very embarrassing. However, I’ve made up my mind and met my professor after class to discuss my mistakes. This actually helped me clarify some important points. I think that this was an important experience, as failures can be overcome if you seek out improvement.

Graduate School Interview Questions: Personal

These schools interview questions are used to learn about your own attitudes and experiences.

Here are several examples:

  1. Take about a minute to tell me what I should really know about you?


    Since childhood, I’ve been concerned about the quality of things and building robust constructions. Later, I chose Engineering as my degree. I felt it is the best way to bring better quality into our life.
  2. Tell me about your strengths.


    I am responsible, able to focus on important tasks and a quick learner. These qualities have helped me during my studies, with every single accomplishment. Besides, it is usually easy for me to join a new team and get closer with new teammates.
  3. What is the one thing you would like to improve about yourself?


    I think that my biggest problem so far is being overly self-critical. Even a small failure may cause disappointment for me. Sometimes it stops me from participating more actively in discussions or team activities. I’m looking forward to getting more academic experience. And I hope it helps me overcome this problem.
  4. What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies?


    One of my favorite pastimes is nature photographing. I often go for a walk in parks or in the nearby forest and take pictures there. It feels very relaxing after a long day of studies and has helped me meet some awesome people on social networks where I’m sharing my photos.
  5. What have you been reading?


    As I'm finishing my computer engineering course. I’ve been reading books about computer architecture and some periodicals in this field. However, I’ve also found it helpful to ‘refresh’ my brain by casual reading. So I also read mystery novels from time to time.

Graduate School Interview Questions: Leadership/Teamwork

Here are some more questions to expect in an interview. This group revolves around leadership roles. You are expected to talk about your skills of making decisions, taking responsibility and guiding others.

Here are several examples:

  1. Tell me about a time you assumed a leadership role.


    Last year I took the initiative to organize a black-tie gala event at our school. I managed to secure a venue and band for a reduced fee. Several of my co-students helped me with organization. The event was a success. Our team managed to raise some money for charity.
  2. Tell me about some conflict you have resolved.


    During a volunteer work at the city zoo with my fellow students I managed to mediate when a quarrel broke. Two guys were accusing each other of leaving ‘dirty’ tasks for others. I persuaded them to take daily turns in completing these tasks to which they agreed.
  3. Tell me about a situation in which you showed initiative.


    There were two times when our team received complicated collective assignments at school, involving research and presentation making. In both cases I’ve initiated discussions inside our group. As a result it appeared that there were people in our team who possessed necessary skills. So we’ve managed to do both projects in time.
  4. Can you motivate others?


    When my younger sister was thinking about getting a scholarship to attend college, I’ve advised her to do so. Neither of our parents attended college, so I’ve figured out how to prepare for college applications on my own. I offered my sister to help her with the preparations for her application, which she accepted. As a result, she has entered a college successfully.
  5. Are you able to take risks?


    I’ve been in situations when I had to accept a challenge despite understanding that it was possible for me to fail. I believe that sometimes you should take a risk. The most important thing is to clearly see which negative outcomes you may get and prepare for them.

Graduate School Interview Questions: Goals

Here are some more interview questions for students. These are focused on finding out about your aspirations. And also about your ability to plan ahead.


  1. What has motivated you to pursue this academic field?


    During my first undergraduate year I wanted to be a conservation biologist. But at the moment I am considering teaching as well. My professors have had such a strong impact on me. That's why I would love to teach about conservation biology at the college level.
  2. What are your short-term and long-term goals?


    I plan to obtain a master’s degree in journalism. After that I’ll pursue a career as a correspondent with a major publication such as The New York Times. In the future I hope I will provide on-the-ground coverage in major conflict zones. Such as Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
  3. What are your expectations from our school?


    I am looking to further improve my knowledge about computer systems. Besides, I'm looking forward to obtaining significant teamwork experience after participating in some of the great scientific projects your school is renowned for.
  4. What are your research interests?


    After completing my undergraduate education I will have some background in computer science. My next step will be enrolling into courses linked with AI systems. I dream about becoming a professional AI engineer. Which is why I should obtain more knowledge about it.
  5. What causes do you care about and why?


    I hope that modern technology will help solve such humanity’s problems as famine and climate change which is causing the decrease of fertile lands. I hope that your school’s program will help me get enough knowledge for participation in some projects that will help me solve them.

Grad School Interview Questions: What to Ask the Interviewers

Now about your questions you can ask during a graduate school interview. When the advisors will have all their questions asked, you might have time to ask yours. It would be useful to clarify your options, opportunities and resources in the new school. Besides, this way you’ll show the selection committee that you are really interested in their program.

Here are the examples of good questions:

  1. How long does it typically take to complete the program?
  2. What is campus life like? Are there any specific rules?
  3. What extracurricular activities are available?
  4. Where are recent alumni employed?
  5. What do most graduates do after graduation?

School Interviews Questions: What Not to Ask

During a schools interview, questions from interviewees are usually welcomed. But even if they tell you any your questions would be accepted, make sure you avoid any stupid or obvious ones. Your goal is about making a good impression.

These are the examples that shouldn’t be asked:

  1. Where is the school located? (You should be able to find it on their website)
  2. Which courses are best to start with? (You should already have some plans for that)
  3. Is it okay to skip classes / arrive late?
  4. What is your opinion on current political events? (Not a good idea to discuss that with interviewers).

Grad School Interview Questions: Final Thoughts

Hopefully, our article will help you prepare for your graduate school interview questions. We’ve provided a variety of examples for you to check out. As you have learned about typical questions, you’ll be ready to discuss school programs and your research interests with an interviewer.

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Graduate School Interviews Questions: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you feel the need to learn more about schools interview questions? Check out the answers for these popular questions on that topic.

What are the occupational therapy graduate school interview questions?

Occupational therapy graduate school interview questions are likely to ask you about your views upon this therapy or your own expectations from the career of a therapist.

Here are several examples:

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. What skills do you think you should help others?
  3. In your own words, what is occupational therapy?
  4. Why do you want to become an occupational therapist?
  5. What characteristics do you think are required to be a great OT?

What are the speech pathology graduate school interview questions?

Speech pathology graduate school interview questions are likely to talk about the school’s program or about typical disorders a graduate would come across.

Here are several examples:

  1. Why did you choose our program?
  2. What experiences have you had to prepare you for this program?
  3. What are your specific research interests in communication disorders?
  4. Have you encountered any speech pathology cases in real life?
  5. What are your career goals after graduating in this field?

What are the nurse practitioner graduate school interview questions?

Nurse practitioner graduate school interview questions will usually revolve around actual nursing experience and desire to help people. When preparing for such interviews, make sure you recall any episodes when you provided some qualified help.

Here are several examples:

  1. Why do you want to be a nurse practitioner?
  2. What makes you think you are prepared for such a job?
  3. Which specialty are you interested in and why?
  4. What is your philosophy?

Which types of graduate programs require a grad school interview?

It depends on the school whether or not you will have to undergo a grad school interview there. Some schools interview everyone, while others only interview their top candidates. Most medical school programs interview all candidates. The same applies for many leading law and business schools, though not all. It is often possible to find information about that on a school’s website so make sure you check it before starting your preparations.

Rachel R. Hill is a real educational devotee. She prides in writing exceptional general guides while listening to every need of students.

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