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Asking Questions

Questions You May Be Asked During a Grad School Admissions Interview


August 04, 2017

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You should treat your graduate admissions interview with the same importance as a professional job interview, and that means being prepared. Researching the university and preparing your answers to interview questions can help you combat the nervousness and fear you may feel the day of your interview. Practice answering questions so you appear more confident during your interview and are not thrown off by the unexpected question.

Below are examples of common questions you may be asked during your graduate school interview. Prepare your answers and take advantage of the tips below so you can leave a lasting impression the day of your interview.

How to Answer Common Graduate School Interview Questions

During your interview, be sure to answer each question thoroughly and concisely. It’s important to remember that people remember and engage with stories, so tell a story whenever you can. It may be helpful to use the STAR method when it applies. The STAR method encourages you to describe the situation, highlight what your tasks and duties were, how you took action, and the measurable results of your efforts. When answering the questions this way, you’re able to tell a story while also reminding yourself of the key points to hit so you can keep your answers concise and easy to remember.

Below are common questions asked by our admissions team during a graduate school interview for a professional business program. You should be able to provide a short, but detailed, response to each.

Educational Interests and Background

To get a better understanding of your goals and fit for the program, graduate advisors will ask questions regarding your previous educational experience and what appealed most to you about the program to which you are applying.

Be sure to do your research and share what stands out to you about the degree program and services the school offers. Connecting the key aspects of the program with your interests and career goals is a way for you to highlight how you are an ideal fit for the program.

Examples of these questions include:

  • Why are you interested in this degree?
  • What interests you about the _______ field?
  • Why did you choose this school?
  • How did you find out about this program?
  • Why should you be admitted to our program? What do you bring to the table?
  • What skills are you specifically looking to develop through our program?
  • What courses intrigue you in our curriculum?

Professional Experience and Career Aspirations

Your professional experience is a large part of your development in both your career and education and can give admissions advisors a better idea of your areas of interest and professionalism.

If you’re already working in a field related to your area of study, highlight how your studies will help you further your career. If you are pursuing the degree in order to enter into a new field, discuss how your professional experience has prompted your new direction and the lessons you’ve learned that can carry you to the next stage of your career.

Examples of these questions include:

  • Tell me about your current professional position and what you do.
  • If you are currently employed, what are the issues your organization is facing? What keeps senior management up at night?
  • What was your best/greatest professional success? What are you most proud of professionally?
  • What is your dream job and why?

Work and Study Style

Graduate admissions advisors will often want to get a sense of your work and study style to see how you would fit with the program and other students. This is a great opportunity to showcase your personality and share how you’ve overcome obstacles at your job and in the classroom.

Examples of these questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you failed. How did you recover from that?
  • Provide an example of a time when you worked with a difficult colleague/employee/fellow student. How did you handle that situation?
  • Do you prefer to work on a team or individually?
  • What would you do if you were part of a high-level meeting and you received a very important client call in the middle of it?

Personality, Behavior and Extracurricular Interests

When asked questions about your personality and interests, highlight what makes you different from other applicants. Showing the diversity of your interests can be a great opportunity if you’re making a career change, as you can use your answers to highlight how your personal experiences or volunteer opportunities led you to enter a new field.

Examples of these questions include:

  • Take about a minute to tell me what I should really know about you?
  • What is the one thing you would like to improve about yourself?
  • What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies?
  • How do you like to receive feedback?
  • How do you manage stress and competing priorities in your life?


Do Your Research

Properly researching the university you are applying to before your interview allows you to answer questions thoroughly and effectively. Being able to speak to some of the key pillars of the program and tie it to your own goals will show you’re truly interested and an ideal fit.

Demonstrate Expertise

Your interview is your chance to highlight what you know. If you have experience that relates to your area of study, showcase your knowledge and achievements and areas where you would like to learn more. These types of experiences are what make you different and allow you to talk about your field from your point of view. If you don’t have very much experience or expertise related to your area of study, share ways that you’ve been trying to engage with the topic and what you find most interesting about it.

Expressing Personality

Show off your personality! A large part of the interview process is getting a feel for who you are as a person off the page. While your resume, test scores, and transcripts show what you can do, this is your opportunity to show who you are, share your values and interests and demonstrate what you can bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to share those things during your interview – these qualities are what make you standout.

Ask Great Questions

Graduate admissions advisors will often ask if you have any questions for them regarding the program, the university or the admissions process. It’s important to remember this is a two-way interview. Just as admissions advisors are trying to asses if you’ll thrive in their programs, you should be assessing whether this program will help you reach your educational and professional goals.

For a more detailed guide on what types of questions to ask, take a look at our guide Questions to Ask in a Grad School Interview.

Learn more

These tips are sure to help you have a successful graduate school interview but if you have any questions or would like to learn more, visit Drexel LeBow Graduate Admissions to find out more about the entire application process.

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