Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

English for your Graduate School Interview | 4 Questions to Expect

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 09:05 AM

English for your graduate school interview, Boston and CambridgeDo you need to practice your English for an upcoming graduate school interview? Not sure what kind of questions the interviewer will ask? We are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard and MIT and about 50 other academic institutions. Sometimes we help students prepare for their interview to get into their "dream" school or academic program. If you want to get accepted at your institution of choice, preparation is the key. In today's article, you will learn some common graduate school interview questions and how you should respond to them.

 

 

4 Questions to Expect:

 

  • "Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?" When you answer this question, you need to illustrate how you will use your degree on your career path.

 

  • "What can you contribute to this program?" Do you have a unique talent or skill? It is important to set yourself apart from the other applicants. Make sure you spend a lot of time on the school's website. Look through course catalogs to know as much as possible about the program before you go into the interview. Not sure how to answer this question? If you are reading this blog, you are probably from another country. Every graduate school is looking to make their classes more intercultural to better prepare their students for the global economy. You will most likely be able to offer a different perspective during class discussions. Emphasize that you can add value in that area.

 

  • "What do you know about this program and the faculty in this program?" This is a way for them to find out if you did your homework. If you don't know much about the program, they will assume that you are not interested or not motivated because you have not taken the time to learn about it. Try to arrange a time to chat by phone with some faculty members and/or alumni about the program and identify one professor's work that interests you.

 

  • "What is your weakness? What is your strength?" This is always a tricky one! You need to give this some thought ahead of time. Choose a weakness that could be considered a strength like being a perfectionist or being too detail oriented. When you discuss your strength, be honest and authentic. Really consider what you do well and don't try to answer the question based on what you think they are looking for.

 

 

Ask your Own Questions:

 

Remember that in the US it is very important for you to ask the interviewer great questions. Perhaps in your culture, it is considered a sign of disrespect, but in the US, the interviewer wants to find out how much you know about the institution and your field of study. They often form an opinion about you based on the quality of your questions, so make sure you prepare some good ones.

 

 

Be Specific:

 

Try to always give concrete examples to support a point. For example, if the interviewer asks you about your ability to work well in a team, don't just say that you are a great team player. Instead, say that you work well in teams and give a specific example about a project that you completed during your undergraduate years or in a job that required great team work.

 

 

Communicate your Vision:

 

You are passionate about what you are going to study in graduate school, right? I hope so! The best way to make a good impression on the interviewers is to communicate your vision. What does that mean? You need to show that you care about what you are going to study and that you have a true desire to use those skills in the world. You need to demonstrate that you are enthusiastic, driven and motivated. A common American cultural value is that a person determines his or her own success, so if the interviewer sees you sit up in your chair and your eyes light up when you talk about why this degree is important to you, you will be ahead of a lot of other applicants.

 

 

Remember, when you prepare for your graduate school interview in Boston or Cambridge, it's not just about practicing your English. Learn a bit about common American cultural norms and values like the ones that we have talked about today and you will really be prepared to claim your spot at your school of choice! Good luck!

 

 

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Photo Credit: JMaz Photo

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