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By Elizabeth LaScala

Interview Prep for Grad School

Uploaded: May 25, 2022

It takes more than grades, recommendations, test scores, essays, and work samples to get into graduate school. Some masters’ programs may invite applicants to virtual interviews. Treat these like in-person job interviews, where you dress in business attire, and be prepared to have a conversation about your interests that goes beyond your resume and essays.

Here are some questions that you might be asked if you were invited to interview for the Master’s in Marketing at the University of Southern California, the Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern, and other programs around the US:

- Tell us about yourself
- What are your professional goals?
- Why do you want to attend this school?
- How will this program help with your career advancement?
- If you are admitted to this program, what value would you bring to our class that makes you different from other applicants?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- If accepted, what will be your biggest challenge?
- How do you motivate yourself? How do you deal with stress?

When thinking about how to answer these questions, remember that the rules that apply to essays also apply to interviews.

- Honesty is the only policy.
- Do not simply restate what you have already provided on your resume or essays. This is an opportunity for you to go deeper or cover material you were unable to cover in your application material.
- Leave the interviewer with two or three positive things to remember about you when you answer a “big picture” question like those above.
- Make eye contact with the interviewer as you answer questions. You are not supposed to refer to notes during the interview.

The admission’s team asks these questions because they want to know about your ambitions, be convinced that you can do the work, and believe that you have done your homework about the school before you applied. The interviewer also wants to know that you will be a good classmate who can work in groups, a skill that will be important during and after your degree.

These interviews are also your chance to ask your own questions. It is just as important to have your own questions ready as it is to answer those asked of you. Here’s a sampling for master’s programs in communications or marketing, though many of these questions will apply to other programs and situations as well.

- How will you help me to find an internship while I am pursuing the degree or during the summer (if the degree runs more than one year)?
- Do you host live or virtual information and networking sessions with alumni and employers?
- What have graduates done five years after they finish the program and where are they working?
- When did you last update the computers and technology in your multi-media lab? (You want to know that the school has the same technology or better than your future employers will have.)
- What is the campus life and campus culture like?
- What are a few things that tend to surprise new students about this program?
- What type of person is most successful in this program?

Feel free to take notes while they answer your questions. These answers will help you to choose between programs after you have received acceptances.

A graduate education is increasingly necessary to advance careers, increase income and enjoy employer-sponsored health coverage and retirement plans, and applying successfully for a graduate or professional degree requires careful planning. Elizabeth LaScala PhD, Founder of Doing College and Beyond provides personalized guidance throughout the graduate and professional degree admissions process, whether you are currently studying at the undergraduate level or are already working in your career. Call (925) 385-0562 or visit Elizabeth at her website to learn more.

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