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Top Interview Questions


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To those of you with more experience: What are the top 5-10 questions you'd recommend I'd rehearse?

Whatever you put on your application is fair game. Just be ready to talk about your experiences. Other than that... the questions are pretty random. I'm so used to telling people what I do in my lab, that all I did was create a more interactive and thorough way of telling it to the professors - usually I tried to incorporate pictures to show that I'm good at demonstrating things. But yeah, it's really random.

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These are the top questions you really want to be able to answer:

- Tell us about yourself / your work (have at least a 1-minute, 5-minute and 10-minute answer to this question, you will be asked this many times).

- What are your interests?

- Why do you want to study here?

- Any information on your app - you need to remember the details of any projects, courses/teachers, papers, conferences, etc. that you mentioned in your CV or SOP, or that a LOR is likely to mention.

- Is there anything you want to ask us? (be ready to ask smart questions about the program)

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I would recommend that you have an answer prepared for if they ask you to what other schools/programs you're applying. Judging from the number of times this topic comes up here, it is not only common, but has also caught a lot of people off-guard.

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My interviews have been much more about me asking questions rather than me being asked questions. There are threads and websites that have questions you should ask. They have been very helpful.

Can you please tell me which websites have been helpful? Thanks.

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I went to the career/graduate advisor at my university to prepare for my interview, and she was lovely and all, had a list of questions such as, what do you want to do in ten years, why this program, hobbies, etc. And, guess what? My interviewer asked none of them!

My advise, is don't go by any list. Know EXACTLY what is on your resume/essay so when they ask a specific question, dont pause. My interviewer asked what a specific phrase meant in my essay, and to explain how that related to my current employment. Obviously, I knew what she was talking about, but it took me a second to flip through my essay to find that paragraph, to know exactly what she was reading, and not repeat what she already knew. Thankfully, I got in, but my brief stutter, of "uh.... um..." until i found it, made me doubt how well I did in the interview.

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I just completed my interview for a doctoral program (and got accepted!) this week. Whether you're at the masters or doctoral level, I'd suggest these:

1.) Why are you seeking this specific degree?

2.) Why now/why here [at this specific school]?

3.) Have you considered any research topics on which you'll be focusing dissertation/masters thesis efforts?

4.) What can this program do to help you achieve your career goals?

5.) What can YOU bring to this program that sets you apart from other applicants?

Good luck!! :D

-Shannon

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I just completed my interview for a doctoral program (and got accepted!) this week. Whether you're at the masters or doctoral level, I'd suggest these:

1.) Why are you seeking this specific degree?

2.) Why now/why here [at this specific school]?

3.) Have you considered any research topics on which you'll be focusing dissertation/masters thesis efforts?

4.) What can this program do to help you achieve your career goals?

5.) What can YOU bring to this program that sets you apart from other applicants?

Good luck!! :D

-Shannon

thank you

great article

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1.) Where do you see yourself in x amount of years?

- Even if they give you a specific number of years, make sure you describe where you see yourself both in the short-term span (this will show you are realistic) and in the long term span (this will show you have high-reaching goals.) You don't want to roll in there looking unrealistic, or like a slacker.

2.) Why do you pick this program?

- Pretty straight forward, just be honest. Pick specific things about the program that sets it apart from other programs. For example, "This program really stuck out to me b/c while it has great academics, it also has a lot more opportunities for practical experience than other programs out there."

3.) Why do you think you would be a good fit for the program?

- This is a chance to brag on yourself a bit. Also, let them know what makes you unique compared to the other hundreds of students applying. Tailor your talents to the specifics of the program.

My last piece of advise...don't be arrogant about it, but try to think along the lines of you are interviewing the school as well. You want to let the interviewer know that you want to make sure the school is the right fit for you. Do this by asking discriminating questions...what sets this school apart from other programs? How has this program evolved over the last 20 years in its field? What is this program doing to stay competitive? Some people might disagree, but I went into my interviews with the attitude of, look, I know my qualifications, and any school would be lucky to have me. I want to make sure they are worthy of my talents. I know it sounds arrogant, but it made me feel less nervous to look at it as if I was the one interviewing them. Be confident, but not arrogant. It is a thin line. My interviewers even mentioned that they found my confidence appealing. If you have faith in yourself, they will put their faith in you.

The worst thing you can do is go into an interview being unsure of yourself. My program did an interview weekend, where you were with other candidates the whole time. Some people can get intimidated, and get down on themselves when they hear other applications bragging about their amazing qualifications. Know that 1.) They are all embellishing and 2.) If they really were that amazing, they wouldn't feel the necessity to brag about it. They are only bragging b/c they know they are lacking. Just nod and smile.

Just know that you deserve the best education, because you are a talented, intelligent person, and you will rock the interview :)

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