Graduate School Interviews

How to Prepare

Some graduate programs, but not all, require or allow for interviews with faculty members or admissions officers as a criterion for admission. Generally interviews are by invitation only and cannot be requested.

Most graduate programs have faculty committees that review all the applications, but some schools will use an interview process to make their final decision after they have narrowed the applicant pool. Whatever the basis, if you have been invited to interview, this is your chance to show the committee who you are and that you have done your research (especially on faculty research)! Be yourself, and focus on why you’re interested in that particular institution. Ask thoughtful questions about the school and program. While you are in town, take a campus tour, explore the area and meet students. A campus visit offers you the opportunity to demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and gain a better sense of the school’s environment.

In preparation for your graduate school interviews, we recommend that you sign up for a mock interview with a Career Advisor. You can also review interviewing tips, which provide brief synopses of the interview process and additional sample questions, and practice using InterviewStream, an online service that lets you record and watch videos of yourself answering common interview questions.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Why do you want a graduate degree?
  • What other schools did you apply to?
  • Why do you think this program is a good fit for you?
  • Tell us about…(a project you worked on that you wrote about in your personal statement).
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a student?

Questions You Might Want to Ask

  • What are the degree requirements?
  • Are teaching assistantships available?
  • How long does it typically take students to complete their degree?
  • How accessible are the professors?
  • What opportunities are available to get involved with research?
  • Where do graduates get hired?