How to Prepare for your Graduate School Interview

Many people today find that they have more options with a Masters degree. The average salary in the United States with an undergraduate degree is $42,877. The average salary with a Masters degree is $55,242. This difference definitely adds up with time. The higher degree also gives you a better opportunity in your career, which could lead to an even higher salary. If you're looking into higher education, follow these grad school interview tips to get through those anxiety-inducing interviews.


One of the best things that you can do to prepare for a graduate school interview is research. Brush up on old notes to get a reminder of the basics. You will also want to research popular topics in the field today. Research the field in general. Is there a demand for this profession? What is the average salary? Lastly, research the school that you are considering.This research will give you a competitive edge. You will seem interested in the field, the career aspirations, and the school.

You'll also want to research the interview process and the people that will be interviewing you. Hopefully, you can find common ground with one of the professors. Knowing about the process and the people will help you feel more prepared, too.

Gather up your Accomplishments

You've done a lot in your life, and you should not be afraid to be proud of those achievements. Gather up all academic and work accomplishments that you can think of. You'll also want to consider your personal and family accomplishments. If you put yourself through school with just student loans, that's an accomplishment! If you were able to get your degree while also raising a child, that's an accomplishment! This is the time to talk yourself up and put those achievements into the spotlight.

Practice Common Questions

Many interviews ask the same questions. Be ready to answer general questions, questions about your leadership capabilities, and times that you proved successful despite adversity. You should also be able to respond the questions Why this career? Why this school? Why now?

Some common grad school interview questions include:

  • What are your alternative plans?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • How will you pay for graduate school?
  • What will your greatest challenge be while in school?
  • How would previous professors describe you?
  • What is your biggest weakness?

Talk..And be friendly

Graduate students are people, and the professors want to get to you know your personality. Don't be afraid to speak up and talk. Make it conversational so that it is less intimidating for you. A conversational tone will also put the professors at ease and make them feel like they are getting a chance to know you.

The interview does not have to be rigid, and you don't have to wait to be asked a question before you speak. Start the interview with an enthusiastic hello to the professors, a smile, and a handshake. Take it from there.

Practice your facial expressions and body language

Before the interview, practice your facial expressions. You want to look interested and thoughtful without looking odd. You also want to stand up straight and look confident without looking rigid. Practicing in front of the mirror is a good way for you to manage these things.

Also, ask anyone that you do a practice interview with if they noticed anything that you could improve regarding your facial expressions and your body language. Some people have a nervous giggle. Other people have a tendency not to look people in the eye. Know what you could improve.

Look your best

Some people go into a graduate school interview in street clothes. You want the professors to know that you take this interview seriously, so wear something professional and modest. Gentlemen should keep flair in their suit to a minimum. Ladies should keep clothes conservative, wear heels with 3" pumps or lower, and limit makeup.

This doesn't mean that you can't express your style. It also doesn't necessarily mean that tattoos or piercings should be covered up. Keep things tasteful, though.To help you look your best, you will also want to get a good night's sleep the night before.

Manage your nerves

Interviews are nerve-wracking. To prevent yourself from being as nervous, there are some methods that might help. Many people practice breathing exercises. Thoughtful breathing can be very helpful. Other people might carry a stress ball or another tool to help relieve anxiety. Getting to the location early and having a good breakfast are also ways to help you relax. It doesn't hurt to listen to fun music on the way to the interview, either. Grad-school interview preparation also means knowing how to keep calm throughout the interview, so find what methods work for you.

Have questions

Before the interview, think of a couple of questions that you could ask about the program. Keep the questions personal (as opposed to something that you could read online) and make them questions that put you in a positive light.

End Strong

The first impression is crucial, but so is your goodbye. Always thank the professors for taking the time to speak with you. Tell them once again that you are hopeful that you'll be seeing them in the classroom soon. Maintain a positive energy throughout the good-bye, despite how you think the interview went. Lastly, give everybody a firm handshake and a smile goodbye.