4 CHALLENGING MASTER PROGRAM INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

You have submitted an impressive essay and now admissions’ officers would like you to state your case in person. All excitement aside, you should be aware that there are some Master Program Interview questions that may prove to be quite difficult, especially if you haven’t prepared well.

Once invited for an interview, some Master Program aspirants may decide that they have all but gained admission to their dream programme and take it easy.

Can you tell me about a time you failed?

Why is it challenging?

Of course, aspirants are eager to highlight their achievements and strong sides but they are well advised to prepare for questions asking them to discuss failures and low points. Questions about past failures can throw those who expect to talk only about success, progress, and growth.

How to answer

Think about a failure which you were involved in but which was not ruinous for the organisation. Explain your role in the failure and what you learned from it. If possible, point to a recent situation where you applied the lessons learned from the failure.

Can you describe a conflict at work and how you handled it?

Why is it challenging?

This question represents a real minefield. If you are not careful, you can be tempted to speak ill of your colleagues or understate your role in the conflict. And if you started the conflict you may come off as ill-tempered and quarrelsome. In short, it is difficult to describe a conflict you were involved in and remain objective.

How to answer

Avoid disparaging your colleagues, your bosses, or your organisation. The reason admissions officers ask this question is to see if the applicant can see the conflict from different angles. You can prepare for this question by thinking of a conflict at work you were involved in. Describe the conflict in detail and your role in it. Explain how the conflict ended (if, in fact, it ended). It is crucial to mention what you learnt from the conflict and, if possible, point to a situation where you applied the lessons learnt from the conflict.

How do you make big decisions?

Why is it challenging?

This question is not as challenging as it is crucial, because your answer will deliver insight into your decision-making process. It will basically show the admissions officer how you think and whether you apply structure when you make decisions.

How to answer

Describe your decision-making process, but point out the structure you apply to it. Demonstrate how you progress gradually from one stage to the next. Also describe the methods you use when making decisions. Do you jot down the pros and cons on a sheet of paper or use a spreadsheet? Mention that, too. Of course, big decisions are often based on intuition. Don’t hesitate to talk about this.

Would you explain to me the last project you worked on as if I were a seven-year-old?

Why is it challenging?

The purpose of such questions is to assess your ability to distil the essence of complex information into simple language, which is a key business skill. If your job entails explaining complicated issues with simple words, you will have no problem with this question. Otherwise, you may find it surprisingly difficult. Just try to explain derivatives trading to your grandmother.

How to answer

Prepare to answer the question about your job, but bear in mind that you may be asked to capture the essence of some other complex issue. Practise presenting complex ideas clearly and watch how others do it. The question may be posed by the interviewer in a humorous fashion, but take it quite literally. Also don’t be condescending to the interviewer.