5 Hardest Grad School Interview Questions and Expert Answers

GRAD SCHOOL Interview Questions and Answers! (How to PASS a GRADUATE SCHOOL Interview!)

3. What are your career goals?

Graduate programs often seek out students who have ambition and a strong sense of purpose within their field. Achieving professional goals and building an impressive career can promote the reputation of the graduate program. Your interviewer will also want to ensure that the program will support you and benefit your academic and career goals.

Example: “When I started college I wanted to be a conservation biologist, but at the moment I am considering teaching as well. My professors have had such a strong impact on me that I would love to teach about conservation biology at the college level. However, before I teach others I hope to work in the field and publish a book on biodiversity in the Midwest. One of my lifetime goals is to create an interactive program to teach about conservation biology at national parks.”

Grad School Interview Question #13: How do you deal with the stress of academia?

We are seeing mental health crises in many facets of society, and academia is included in this. The pressure of graduate school is immense and virtually indescribable to those who havent gone through it. You’re in competition with the same people you grow close to over the course of your degree (your cohort – the other students accepted the same year as you). You’re under constant scrutiny and your work is subject to constant critique – youre much more likely to be alerted to things youre doing wrong than applauded for things youre doing right. The boundary between work and life gets very fuzzy, as does the boundary between work and self – becoming a scholar is both an occupation and an identity. Your research is often dependent on funding, and resources seem more and more scarce with each passing year. Future prospects as tenured faculty (if that’s the direction you’d like to go) are dismal, as precarious adjunct/sessional/contract labour becomes more and more the norm. People outside of academia will think you’re still just “going to school”, when that’s not at all the reality of what you’re actually doing – their definition of “going to school” is worlds away from the actual work youll be doing.

In short, it’s all a lot to deal with, and it can be mentally trying, even in good times. Depression and anxiety are common. Every year, graduate students abandon their studies under the weight of it all, and some – particularly those with pre-existing struggles with mental health – are driven past the point of no return. Even those who seem “strong” or “okay” may be hurting far more than they may let on.

As such, the push toward a mental wellness model in academia is underway, but it’s slow-going. You need to demonstrate all at once that you are realistic about the immense pressure you will be under, and that you have coping strategies in place to handle such stressors. If you don’t have such strategies, start working on them NOW. You will absolutely need them. Whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself, competent, healthy, and like you’re on stable ground, follow it and make it a regular practice.

Questions to Consider Asking:

  • General questions about the degree program
  • Preparations for the program- do they prefer experience?
  • 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 opportunities?
  • What factors are most important in admitting students?
  • Where have alumni of the program gone? Where do they work?
  • Do students usually publish or present papers?
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