Common Interview Questions

Preparing for an interview can be daunting and stressful. Applicants often wonder, "What are they going to ask?" or "What am I going to say?". Almost everyone experiences these feelings at some point. To try to help you ease your concerns about the application interview, we’ve prepared some sample question types to give you an idea of the kinds of topics that may be addressed in your interview. Please note, these are not the actual interview questions for your application.

The tell me about yourself question.
This completely open-ended interview question allows you to highlight who you are. Use your preparation time to think what you want to say and how you want to structure your thoughts. Use specific examples from your undergraduate education, work experience, activities, and accomplishments to demonstrate your points.

The why do you want to earn this degree at this school question.
Use this question to connect who you are to why you want to earn this degree and if applicable how this specific program is best suited for you to achieve your goals.

The tell me about a time when…question.
Questions that ask you to talk about a time when…want you to address a specific situation or experience. Try to use an example where you can briefly explain the situation, what the outcome was, and what you learned from it.

The how would your professor/colleagues/supervisor describe you question.
Try to highlight both professional and personal characteristics that will indicate what kind of student and classmate you will be. But remember, as part of the application process, letters of recommendation were submitted that will tell us what they would say about you. Paint an accurate picture of who you are.

The what has been your most challenging/rewarding experience question.
Briefly describe a specific example. If you’re asked to talk about a challenge, describe the outcome and what you learned from the experience. If you’re asked about a rewarding experience, explain why it was rewarding and what you gained from the experience.

The dreaded what are your strengths and weaknesses question.
This fairly routine interview question is often dreaded by applicants. Strengths tend to be easy, just make sure you support the strength with specific examples. Weaknesses are more challenging because you may not want to acknowledge a weakness. The Admissions Committee is more interested in how you handle yourself during this tough question than your actual answer.

The what’s your favorite… or if you could be a …question.
The good thing about these questions is there is no wrong answer. The bad thing is it is so open ended, sometimes it’s hard to pick a favorite book or movie or whatever was asked. The key to these questions is explaining why you picked your answer.

Hypothetical Questions
When presented with a hypothetical question, use your knowledge, skills, and experiences to answer the question presented in the hypothetical situation. The Admissions Committee is looking for answers that demonstrate logical thinking, problem solving abilities, and good judgment.

The what are your short- and long-term goals question.
Since you are applying to a specific program, you should be able to articulate a concrete short-term goal directly related to the program. Your short-term goals should be specific and achievable, while your long-term goals may be a little unclear, but they should line up with your passions and personality.

The do you have questions or concerns for me question.
Often this is the last question you are asked in an interview. You want to end the interview on a high note. It’s important to be open and honest about concerns that may impact where you are at this stage of the application process. Asking a few specific questions that go beyond what is typically found on a website about the program or job/company (assuming this was a job interview question), demonstrates that you’ve thought deeply about the opportunity and are prepared.