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Career Development Center University of Illinois Springfield

Grad School Interviews

The graduate school interview is an importantstep in the acceptance process. Since this interview plays a roleinto your admission, do your best to prepare adequately. Thisinterview will provide you with a chance to gather information(much like an informational interview), but your focus should be onsetting yourself apart from the other applicants and proving thatyou are the ideal candidate.

In addition to the general tips that follow,be sure to brush up on the rules of professional etiquette.

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Preparing for a Graduate School

To properly prepare for a graduate
school interview, be sure to:

  • Research the university or college.
  • Prepare and prioritize a list of open ended questions to
  • Practice mock interviewing with the Career Development Center,
    family, or friends. Or, log-in to Optimal Resume’s interview module, one of to
    practice by yourself.
  • Call to confirm your appointment. Be sure you know what the
    interviewer will expect of you, and follow all directions they
  • Update and bring a professional portfolio. Include a resume or
    CV, depending on the program requirements. The Career Development
    Center offers assistance to students (and alumni) who wish to
    improve their resume/CV or build a stronger professional portfolio
    for grad school and for job searching.
  • Dress for

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Grad School Interview Questions

During the interview, you will likely be theone answering most of the questions. Ideally, you should prepare abrief self-introduction, as ‘tell me aboutyourself’ is typically the first question after youshake hands. Later on in the interview, you will also have sometime to ask a few questions of your own.

Below are common questions you may be asked, questions for you toask the interviewer, and a few topics to avoid:

Questions to Prepare to

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want to study at our school?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If accepted, what will be your biggest challenge
  • How has your professional experience (or education) prepared
    you to succeed in this program?
  • What are your career goals? How will studying here help you
    achieve those goals?
  • Describe your greatest accomplishment.
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What unique qualities do you think you have to offer this
  • What appeals to you most about our program?
  • How do you motivate yourself? How do you deal with
  • What is your plan B? If you were not accepted to the program,
    what are your plans?
  • Define teamwork? Success? Leadership? Fairness?

Questions to Consider

  • General questions about the degree program
  • Preparations for the program- do they prefer
  • Interviewee’s educational path
  • Culture/environment of the school
  • What financial assistance is offered? Are there
    scholarships/fellowships to apply for?
  • What kind of experiential learning opportunities are there?
    Teaching assistantships? Adjunct positions? Internships? Research
  • What factors are most important in admitting
  • Where have alumni of the program gone? Where do they
  • Do students usually publish or present papers?

Questions to Avoid

  • Do not ask highly personal questions
  • Do not ask about party life on campus
  • Do not ask pessimistic questions, try to stay
  • Do not ask overly detailed questions

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Mock Interviewing

Whether you are applying to Graduate School,looking to secure fellowships and grants, searching forassistantships, or even exploring your career options, you will nodoubt be required to attend an interview. The best way to preparefor the stress of an interview is to practice, practice, practice.The Career Development Center at UIS offers mock interviews to giveyou a chance to practice and get feedback about your interviewperformance.


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Tools for Interviewing

Hands on Resource
Visual ResourceAuditory Resource


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Additional Resources

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