The Graduate Program Application Process: The Graduate School Interview

13 Jun, 2023


The graduate school interview is a critical component of the application process for graduate program admission. Not all Zayed University’s graduate programs require an interview but, when required as a criterion for admission, one needs to be well prepared for the questions one may be asked.

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The primary purpose of the interview is to assess an applicant's fit for the program and environment. Through a structured conversation, admissions committees aim to delve deeper into an applicant's academic background, research interests, professional experiences and future goals to determine whether all these align with the graduate program's objectives and offerings, and whether, in the panel’s view the applicant will be able to manage challenges to successfully complete the program. Beyond evaluating academic achievements and language proficiency test scores, the interview also allows admissions committees to assess an applicant's passion, and knowledge of, the academic program, motivation, dedication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, confidence and intellectual curiosity. Additionally, the interview serves as a platform to evaluate an applicant's interpersonal and communication skills. The panel also seeks to gauge the applicant's ability to articulate their thoughts clearly, engage in meaningful discussions, and demonstrate their potential for collaboration within the academic environment.

Furthermore, the interview serves as a crucial opportunity for applicants to showcase their abilities, goals, and suitability for their desired program. By showing one’s best self and impressing the interviewers with one’s enthusiasm and ability, one can increase one’s chance of admission. By asking questions about the graduate program, faculty, corporate connections for employment opportunities, financial aid options, alumni successes and ways one can become involved in the educational community, it not only shows interest but by getting responses to questions asked helps the potential student to be able to determine if Zayed University is the best place to help meet one’s personal academic and professional goals.

Tips for a Successful Graduate School Interview

Preparing responses to expected questions and practicing concise and thoughtful answers to these can help applicants navigate the interview process with confidence and increase their chance of admission. In this blog, we will provide applicants with tips for a successful interview before, during and after the interview to help aspiring graduate students leave a lasting impression on admissions committees.

Before the Graduation School Interview

1. Research and Self-Reflection

It is crucial to conduct thorough research before the interview. Applicants should start by studying the graduate program of interest including the curriculum and expected learning outcomes, faculty expertise, and research opportunities as well as the admission requirements. This knowledge will enable an applicant to align their interests and goals with the program's offerings and showcase their suitability for the program. Simultaneously, applicants should engage in self-reflection to identify their strengths and areas for improvement.  Understanding the program and evaluating one’s own profile will lay the foundation for a well-prepared interview.

2. Preparing Responses

To excel in an interview, the preparation of thoughtful and well-crafted responses is essential. Applicants should familiarize themselves with common interview questions and develop strategies for answering them effectively. Instead of providing generic answers, applicants should emphasize the importance of offering specific examples that demonstrate their abilities and experiences. They also should draw upon past research projects, coursework, internships, or extracurricular activities to illustrate skills and accomplishments. Providing specific examples adds credibility to one’s responses and allow the interview panel to gain deeper insights into one’s capabilities.

3. Practicing the Interview

Practice is key to honing one’s interview skills.  Arrange a mock interview with a friend, mentor, or career advisor who can simulate the interview experience. Use this opportunity to practice answering questions, maintaining a confident demeanor, and showcasing qualifications. Afterwards, seek feedback on performance to identify areas where improvement can be made. Refine responses by incorporating constructive feedback and ensuring clarity and conciseness. Practicing the interview helps one gain confidence, fine-tune one’s communication skills, and prepare for different interview scenarios that may arise during the actual graduate school interview.

During the Graduation School Interview

1. Making a Positive First Impression

The first impression is always a lasting impression. By setting a positive tone from the beginning, one creates a favorable impression that can positively influence the interview panel's perception. Participants should be on time for the interview and present themselves in a professional manner. Dressing appropriately also demonstrates one’s seriousness and respect for the interview panel and process. Additionally, applicants should maintain a professional demeanor throughout the interview, starting from the moment one enters the interview room.  Greet the interviewers with confidence, make eye contact, and engage in a warm and courteous manner. It is also important to remember to turn off one’s cell phone. 

2. Effective Communication Strategies

Aim to provide clear and concise answers to the interview questions. Focus on conveying ideas in a structured manner, avoiding excessive tangents or unnecessary details. Articulate thoughts with confidence, ensuring the responses are easy to understand. Additionally, demonstrate active listening skills by attentively engaging with the interviewers' questions and responding thoughtfully. Active listening shows one’s ability to comprehend and respond appropriately, further highlighting one’s communication skills. Applicants should speak confidently, prepare answers in advance and be honest. This is your opportunity to let the admissions panel know how much of an asset to their college you will be. 

3. Asking Insightful Questions

Towards the end of the interview, applicants will normally have an opportunity to ask questions. They should use this chance to show their interest and initiative in the program. To prepare, a list of thoughtful and insightful questions about the curriculum, learning outcomes, research opportunities, faculty, facilities or any other relevant aspect of the program should be made. These questions should demonstrate an applicant’s knowledge of the program while also expressing genuine curiosity. However, it is important to avoid asking questions that can easily be answered by reviewing the program's website or materials provided during the interview. Asking well-considered questions reinforces a perception of enthusiasm and engagement, leaving a positive impression on the interview panel.

After the Graduation School Interview

1. Sending a Follow-Up Thank You Note

A well-crafted ‘thank you’ note after the interview can help reinforce one’s candidacy and leave a favorable impression on the interview panel. This gesture demonstrates one’s professionalism, gratitude, and attention to detail.  In the ‘thank you’ note, the applicant should address each interviewer individually, expressing their appreciation for their time and consideration, briefly recap specific points from the interview that resonated with them, and reaffirm their interest in the program. The tone of the note should be kept formal and concise.  It should be sent promptly, preferably within 24 to 48 hours of the interview.  

2. Reflecting on the Interview Experience

Following the interview, applicants should take the time to reflect on the experience as a valuable learning opportunity. There should be a reflection on the questions asked and the responses provided. In addition to assessing interview performance, strengths, and areas for improvement, applicants should also reflect on any areas where they may have felt less confident or encountered difficulties. They should utilize this reflection to refine their interview techniques, address weaknesses, and enhance their overall interview preparedness. 


Although graduate school interviews can be daunting, good preparation for an interview is crucial for aspiring graduate students. By understanding the interview process, researching the program, preparing responses, practicing, and reflecting on the experience, applicants can certainly enhance their chances of success.  

Graduate programs at Zayed University are now open for admission, presenting an excellent opportunity for prospective students to pursue their academic aspirations and serve renowned organizations in the UAE’s public and private sector.  For more information, please contact the Deanship of Graduate Studies at +971-2-599-3605 /

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Are you considering advancing your education with a master’s degree? At Zayed University, we offer a range of master’s degree programs designed to help you excel in your chosen field. Contact our knowledgeable graduate student recruitment and admissions team today at +971-2-599-3605 / Whether you want to explore how our programs can enhance your career opportunities and earning potential, learn about how our research projects can contribute to your professional expertise, discover networking opportunities with faculty and alumni who can mentor you, or get information on scholarships and research grants to support your education, they will help you find the right master’s degree program that aligns with your career goals, and interests.

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