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How to Answer Common Postgrad Interview Questions

After spending hours perfecting your application, now comes the interview. Any interview can be a daunting prospect, but the key to helping ease those pesky nerves is preparation.

To get a head start with your interview prep here are some of the most common questions and how to answer them.

Before we start, here are a few quick things to remember before you arrive:

  • Dress smart. The interview starts when you walk into the room, no matter what subject you are applying for, so it doesn’t hurt to dress the part.
  • Research the department. Knowing your stuff about the subject areas staff members specialise in and any projects going on in the department will show your enthusiasm
  • Postgraduate courses are all about independent learning so don’t be afraid to challenge. Being able to communicate ideas and formulate your own opinion is something interviewers will be looking for.
  • Prepare your own questions. Having a ‘killer question’ at the end of the interview will make you stand out and show your interest, it could be anything from asking about career prospects or the interviewer’s research.


What Questions Are They Likely to Ask?

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As with any style of interview there are common questions most interviewers will ask so it is worth preparing some answers beforehand. As nerve-wracking as interviews are, remember they must have liked your application in order to have invited you to an interview in the first place, so show them what you’re made of!


1. Why Do You Want to Do This Course?

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Being able to show enthusiasm for the subject is key, and showing the interviewer you have also done some background research and reading will demonstrate your commitment further.

If you can, bring an interesting piece of research you found or talk about an article you read, this will break the ice and also show you’re keen to learn more.  Or are there any modules or certain aspects of the course that really interest you? The interviewer wants to see you are enthusiastic, so talk about what excites you most about the course.


2. Tell Me About Yourself

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This question may sound simple enough but the interviewer doesn’t want to know what you get up to at the weekends or what you’ve got lined up on Netflix.

This is your chance to talk about any work experience or relevant extracurricular activities you are involved in.

It could also be useful to bring some examples of your work as a visual aid to show the interviewer. Being able to illustrate you have a diverse skill set is important, whether it is through volunteer work or activities outside of studying.

Remember to discuss any of your skills that could be relevant to the course too. Using specific examples and relating them back to your chosen field of study will help show your dedication.


3. Why This University/College?

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This is where background research is essential, as you must be able to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the department and how it is regarded in the academic community.

Pick out some examples of why you want to study there other than just "I like the city" - it could be the structure of the course, flexible study options, assessment methods or the facilities available.


4. What are Your Career Goals?

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It’s important to remember with this question that you need to keep your answer relevant to your chosen area of study. How will this course in particular help you to achieve your career goal?

The interviewer wants to see that you’re motivated, that you’ll take the course seriously and that it plays a part in your future.


5. What are the Most Important Developments in This Subject?

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It’s highly likely that your interviewer will ask questions that are relevant to your subject of choice, as they are looking for people who have a genuine interest. This is another chance to demonstrate you’re switched on – are there any recent developments or current trends you can discuss?

Being able to show you’re not only knowledgeable about the subject but that you also follow the latest updates will impress the interviewer. And if there’s one area you’re particularly passionate about don’t be afraid to talk about it, remember your interviewer shares your interest in the field and will welcome the in-depth discussion.


NEXT STEP: Do More Interview Prep



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