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Attending an interview

As part of the application process for postgraduate courses, some institutions may ask you to attend an interview.

Interviews may be formal or informal depending on the approach of the university and the course. As with any interview, you want to demonstrate that you have thought seriously about the course you're applying for, even if it's one of many. You will focus on your degree subject and your interest in and suitability for the course you have chosen.

All of the same principles apply to interviews for postgraduate study as they do when going to an interview for a job.

Before the interview

Research the course and the department carefully and consider what you have found out from visiting the university and the town.

Find out more about the department you're applying to – do they have any major research projects underway? What is their research rating? Be prepared to say clearly why that department is the one for you.

Also remember that they will be looking partly at your academic ability – can you think for yourself? Can you construct a reasoned argument? Can you communicate? Be prepared for a possible discussion approach with your interviewer where they are looking at your ability to engage in debate and make your points, rather than necessarily focusing on whether you have the right answer.

Possible questions to anticipate

Interviewers will usually want to know how the course fits in with your career plans. You don’t need these fully mapped out, but you should have a clear idea why you want to study this course.

They will often want to hear about your dissertation or other final year project. You should be able to talk about it enthusiastically, but also critically. What did you do? Why? What did you find out? How would you change or build on your research?

They might also ask you:

  • how is your first degree relevant?
  • why do you want to study this course and what do you hope to gain?
  • why do you want to study here?
  • what did you enjoy most about your undergraduate degree?
  • what are your career aims and how does this course fit in with them?
  • how will you cope with the academic requirements of this course?
  • what are your strengths or personal skills that you can bring to the course?
  • technical questions or questions to investigate your knowledge relating to your subject of study.

You can also prepare by reading through the most relevant of your course notes and reflecting more generally on your time at university.

For research degrees, you will be asked about your research proposal in more detail.

Contact us

If you need help preparing for a postgraduate course interview, please contact us:

Careers and Employability