How to tackle 10 tough admissions interview questions

admissions advice College High School interview prep

Applying to college or graduate school? Interviews will likely be part of the application process! Although interviews can be nerve-wracking, they are a great chance for you to show your personality and give the admissions committee a sense of who you are as a person – in real life, not just on paper! Read on for tips for tackling 10 tough interview questions. Thinking about how you might respond is a great way to prepare and feel confident that you will be able to answer any question that comes your way!

Common questions for all applicants include:

What is your biggest weakness?

This is a classic interview question, and it can be a tricky one! Reflect on your weaknesses and be honest with yourself – you want to avoid giving a cliché, scripted answer, or giving an answer you think the interviewer would like to hear. Be sure to end your response on a positive note. Talk about the changes you are making to address this weakness or highlight the ways in which you have grown.

What is something about you that is not reflected anywhere on your application?

This question can be a tough one because the application captures so much of your background, experience, and passions, from academics to extracurriculars. However, no application can cover every aspect of your identity! Whether it’s a hobby, an interesting experience you’ve had, or something about your family, think about what’s important to you that didn’t quite fit into your application.

How would you handle this ethical scenario? (e.g., witnessing a friend cheating on an exam; having a patient walk into your office in need of care but unable to afford it, etc.)

The specific ethical scenario may vary depending on whether you are an undergraduate or graduate school applicant. Regardless, when faced with these questions, it can be wise to discuss the pros and cons of different options. This shows the interviewer that you can consider different options before making a final, thought-out decision. Keep in mind that there is no one right answer to these questions. They are meant to challenge you and make you think!

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Sometimes even our closest friends don’t know everything about us! This question gives the interviewer insight into who you are on a deeper level.

What sets you apart from other applicants?

Now is the time to have confidence and advocate for yourself! Reflect on what makes you unique – how does your unique life experience influence who you are? What will you bring to the school community? Answering this question can feel awkward (and boastful), but you can advocate for yourself in a way that is confident and still humble!

How do you handle conflict (or failure)? Give me a specific example.

Before going into an interview, it’s a good idea to think about past experiences that you’ve had that relate to conflict, failure, and working on a team. These are all common interview questions, so having some examples on hand can be useful. Everyone has failed and dealt with conflict before – the important part is how you deal with a difficult situation and bounce back!

What is an unpopular opinion you hold?

This is another tricky one – again, you want to give an authentic answer, but be careful not to say anything overly controversial! 

If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or not, who would you choose and why?

The possibilities are endless for this question. You might choose to talk to a historical figure, one of your ancestors, a childhood role model, or a leader in your field of interest. Again, a genuine answer is the best answer.

Common questions for grad school applicants include:

What do you think is the biggest problem facing the profession of [law, medicine, dentistry, etc.]?

Giving a thoughtful answer to this question shows that you are realistic and aware of the challenges that come with entering your field. Every profession, no matter how great, has its challenges! Think about what you consider the biggest problem, how that problem might affect you in the future, and what might be done to address it. 

If you weren’t entering the field of [law, medicine, dentistry, etc.], what would you be doing? Why aren’t you doing that?


This is an interesting one! Maybe you would have been a teacher, a marine biologist, an interior designer, a guidance counselor… the list goes on. Reflect on what led you to choose one career path over another. This question gives the interviewer insight into your other interests and your motivations for choosing your career.

Lauren is pursuing her DMD at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She previously he graduated cum laude with a BS in Psychology and Neuroscience from Yale, where she also received a certificate of advanced language study in Spanish.


academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT college admissions expository writing English strategy MD/PhD admissions writing LSAT GMAT physics GRE chemistry biology math graduate admissions academic advice law school admissions ACT interview prep test anxiety language learning career advice premed MBA admissions personal statements homework help AP exams creative writing MD test prep study schedules computer science Common Application summer activities mathematics history philosophy organic chemistry secondary applications economics supplements research grammar 1L PSAT admissions coaching law psychology statistics & probability dental admissions legal studies ESL CARS SSAT covid-19 logic games reading comprehension PhD admissions engineering USMLE calculus mentorship Spanish parents Latin biochemistry case coaching verbal reasoning DAT English literature STEM admissions advice excel medical school political science skills AMCAS French Linguistics MBA coursework Tutoring Approaches academic integrity astrophysics chinese gap year genetics letters of recommendation mechanical engineering Anki DO Social Advocacy algebra art history artificial intelligence business careers cell biology classics dental school diversity statement geometry kinematics linear algebra mental health presentations quantitative reasoning study abroad tech industry technical interviews time management work and activities 2L DMD IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs Sentence Correction adjusting to college algorithms amino acids analysis essay athletics business skills cold emails data science finance first generation student functions graphing information sessions international students internships logic networking poetry proofs resume revising science social sciences software engineering trigonometry units writer's block 3L AAMC Academic Interest EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian JD/MBA admissions Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python Shakespeare Step 2 TMDSAS Taylor Series Truss Analysis Zoom acids and bases active learning architecture argumentative writing art art and design schools art portfolios bacteriology bibliographies biomedicine brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets central limit theorem centrifugal force chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum dementia demonstrated interest dimensional analysis distance learning econometrics electric engineering electricity and magnetism escape velocity evolution executive function fellowships freewriting genomics harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law immunology induction infinite institutional actions integrated reasoning intermolecular forces intern investing investment banking lab reports letter of continued interest linear maps mandarin chinese matrices mba medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis mnemonics music music theory nervous system