What types of questions are asked during grad school interviews?

When you’re the one asking the questions at a grad school interview, it’s easy to crack a smile.
When you’re the one asking the questions at a grad school interview, it’s easy to crack a smile.
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"So, what do you consider your greatest weakness?"

If you're applying to graduate school, you should spend some time thinking about that question. Don't be too hard on yourself, but make sure you can turn your weakness into a strong personal characteristic.

For example, if your friends say you can't see the forest for the trees, you might explain: "Sometimes I'm too detail-oriented, but I'm usually able to identify mistakes or opportunities that others overlook." That's an excellent quality if you're applying to an accounting program or forensic science. Or, you can offer an explanation about how you are trying to overcome your weakness. If you dread public speaking, you might explain how you're trying to conquer this fear by seeking out opportunities to make presentations to others.

Whether you're applying to law school, medical school or a graduate program in medieval literature, chances are a one-on-one interview with one or more members of the grad school faculty constitutes part of the admissions checklist. In spite of the horror stories we've all heard -- the panel of five experts firing questions at an unprepared interviewee or the interviewer who asks an off-the-wall or politically loaded question -- graduate school interviewers simply want to learn more about you and find out if you have what it takes to succeed in their program.

Specifically, they want to learn more about your personality, background, problem-solving skills and, of course, the way you react in an interview. After all, one day you may find yourself sitting before a committee of faculty members vigorously defending your dissertation or master's thesis. They're also looking for someone who is likable and who will fit into a group that will work together closely over the next few years.

Consider the questions being asked as opportunities to tell the interviewer more about yourself and why you should be admitted to the program. Remember, to every question, you can give a short response that simply answers the question, or a long explanation that provides more information and details about your experience and capabilities. In short, take advantage of every opportunity to sell yourself.

Now let's start preparing to wow those interviewers.