Are you interested in helping your professor or other students in research and get paid for it? If yes, then this is the best job for you. Graduate assistants play an important role in their departments or areas of engagement by offering research services or acting in administrative capacities.
Your main roles will be helping with administrative tasks, organizing campus events, and carrying out research or other related tasks. However, this job will not be handed to you on a silver platter. You still have to appear before an interview panel and convince the hiring manager or professor that you will do a good job.
Do not freak out. We are here to help. This article will look at some of the interview questions that you should expect when appearing before the panel.
Take a look at the following:
1. Why are You Interested in this Job?
This is one of the easiest opening questions that any interviewer can ask you. However, be careful as it can either be a deal-breaker or maker. Take this as an opportunity to market yourself by telling the interviewer what you are good at. Also, show them how they will benefit from your services to increase your chances of landing the job.
I love researching and learning more about new topics. I always have a notebook where I write down anything interesting that needs further attention and research. I’d love to put this skill to use by becoming a graduate assistant. I have even attached some of my work to prove how good of a researcher I am. I have also spent quite some time around this faculty and understand how it operates. I, therefore, believe that I can undertake the administrative duties that come with this job.
2. What are the Roles of a Graduate Assistant?
Do you know your job description? What are some of your mandates as a graduate assistant? The interviewer will tell whether you understand your job from your answer. Make sure that you are articulate enough and only mention job-specific roles.
My job as a graduate assistant mainly involves offering help to my department, students, or professors in research and administrative capacities. I may also organize campus events and undertake several research tasks under the close supervision of a faculty member.
3. What are the Qualities that One Needs to be an Effective Graduate Assistant?
Do you know what it takes to be a good graduate assistant? Here you should mention the attributes, skills, abilities, and behaviors it takes to leave a lasting impact in this job. Just make sure that they are job-specific, or the interviewer will think that you are guessing.
A graduate assistant should be an excellent researcher and communicator. He/she should have superb interpersonal and listening skills and the ability to come up with new ideas and initiatives. Other qualities are excellent outreach and presentation skills, abilities to supervise student groups and teamwork, and excellent presentation skills.
4. What is the Main Challenge that You Faced in Your Former Role? How Did You Manage It?
This is yet another common question whose answer should be based on your experiences. Can you take the initiative and solve a problem instead of waiting for the organization to develop a solution? Everybody wants an employee who can actively solve problems, so be one.
My supervisor tended to assign me roles meant for his secretary. I didn’t mind helping out, but he was rude and harsh whenever I told him that I still had a faculty job to do. When I realized that this was threatening my productivity, I sat down with the hiring manager and head professor and asked them to clearly define my roles in the next staff meeting and talk to the supervisor. They did, and I was moved to a different faculty with a new, understanding supervisor.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine as a Graduate Assistant?
What do you normally do daily? This should be an easy question if this is not your first interaction with graduate assistance. However, if this is your first shot, describe how you envision your day to be.
My day as a graduate assistant is pretty parked. When I get to the office, I spend the first hour answering emails and phone calls from students, professors, and other stakeholders. The rest of the day is spent undertaking research, preparing reports, and attending meetings. (This is just an overview. You can be as detailed as you like)
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
This is a chance to give an overview of your career. You do not have to be detailed since most information is captured in your CV and resume. However, remember to mention any accolades, achievements, and outstanding events in your career. However, also point out if you have mo experience. They saw that and still invited you to the interview.
I do not have any tangible experience in graduate assistance, given that this is the first time I am applying for this job. However, I have researched several entities over the years. I have also worked for law firms, research institutes as a remote online researcher and would therefore appreciate a job along that line.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required for This Role
This question shouldn’t be hard to answer if you have been in this field for quite some time. You have a way of executing your roles and a guiding perspective when going about your work. Explain the two to the interviewer.
As a graduate assistant who mainly focuses on research, I have found out that the best strategy for anyone in my line of work is exhausting all the possible sources of information and conducting a detailed comparison. As for the right mindset, one needs extreme focus when going about the stipulated roles in this job.
8. Mention the Main Challenge That You Foresee in This Job?
Have you spotted a few things that may prove challenging in this job? If yes, what is the main one? However, be careful and think through your answer. Do not mention a challenge that will make you look incompetent.
I have noticed that part of the provided job description reads ‘anything else requested by the professor.’ I find this pretty vague and would appreciate it if it is specified. I would love to know all my roles at the back of my mind.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In this Role?
This is a pretty common question that you must have encountered in previous job interviews. What pushes you to do better or continue delivering as a graduate assistant despite the problems that come with this job? Do not give any material reasons. Avoid mentioning things such as money, potential leaves, and other benefits.
Thanks to my friends and family, I have a strong support system that pushes me to do and be better at my work. They give me the strength to wake up whenever I feel overwhelmed. I also love what I do, and whenever I feel like giving up, I remember the successes I have had, reminisce, and get up to work even harder.
10. Mention a Time that You Failed in This Job and the Lesson Your Learnt
Be wary of such questions. The interviewer wants to ascertain more than one thing. Your accountability and ability to learn from your mistakes are being put to the test. Therefore, give an experience, most preferably from your early days as a graduate assistant, that taught you a valuable lesson.
A professor once asked me to research some information which he was to present later. I had a lot on my plate and set it aside to finish what I was doing first before taking it up. I got so engrossed that I forgot about the professor’s presentation. I had nothing to offer him when he came back for him hours later. My professor was disappointed and mad, but he understood when I explained. He had to reschedule the presentation to give me more time. This experience taught me the importance of planning and prioritizing work, which I have held on to to date.
11. How Will You Handle Your Studies and the Duties that Come with this Job?
You can be a graduate assistant when still going on with your studies. In such an instance, you will be required to attend to your duties and focus on your studies. However, do not deduce that you will prioritize any over the other when answering this question. Just show the interviewer that you are a good planner.
I plan to sacrifice most of my activities during my free time and focus that time on this job. I will therefore prioritize both and make the right adjustments to my schedule. I am a good planner, and you can rest knowing that I will remain a good student and give my all to this job.
12. Have You Ever Held any Roles Within the Student Community?
Unless you are lucky or better qualified, you may have a hard time getting this job if you haven’t played a role in the student community. If you have served in the student community, mention your responsibilities and how they have shaped you for this role. You can also explain why you haven’t had a chance to serve within the student community or even mention some of the activities that you have been doing up to this point.
Yes. I have had the chance to serve the student community. I was a class captain for one year and acted as a link between my class and the administration. One of the lecturers later made me a research assistant shortly afterward.
13. What are Your Expectations on the Other Staff Members?
This is a pretty straightforward question. What do you expect from the other staff members or faculty director? You can draw from things you hold dear in your workplaces, such as honesty and open communication.
I expect clear and honest communication from everyone around me. I would love to know their expectations and get constructive feedback to help me better my work. It is also worth noting that I have high expectations of myself. I will therefore cooperate with all the other faculty members to achieve everything I have set out to.
14. Can You Handle High-Stress Levels?
This job can be extremely stressful since you will be trying to juggle your studies and its roles. Tell the interviewer how you cope with stress or some of the positive stress handling techniques you have acquired over time.
I have come to learn how to handle pressure. It has taught me the best way to handle and balance my workload. I usually schedule each project, which helps me stay on task. I normally manage to significantly reduce my stress through planning. Whenever I am demotivated, I focus on the results I intend to achieve and get back to work.
15. How Would You Handle a Situation Where You Have Agreed with a Supervisor?
Disagreements are inevitable in this line of work. The main question that you should answer is how you would respond to them. Your answer should convince the interviewer that you are a mature person who will not let their emotions take control. Handle any agreement reasonably and factually.
I would strive to understand the situation’s facts and calmly mention my concerns and state my reasons. I have found out that remaining calm during such times helps quell the other party. I will express my opinion but will have to go by the supervisor’s decisions if he/she fails to see where I am coming from.
16. How Would You Handle Multiple Projects?
The interviewer is putting your organizational and multitasking skills to the test. Do not fail to mention the factors that you normally consider when prioritizing tasks.
The time I have spent in this field has helped me hone my multitasking skills. I can take several projects and meet the set deadlines. I normally make schedules and to do lots whenever I have a lot on my plate. I also maintain a pragmatic and objective point of view when going about these tasks.
17. What are Some of the Sources You Would Exhaust if a Professor asked for Some Information on a Paper He/She is Working On?
Your job as a graduate assistant requires you to have a few ready resources that you can immediately turn to. Be as creative as possible when answering this question and avoid answers such as ‘I would visit the library.
I would first look for credible online sources such as archived news articles, published experiments, verified papers, and several reports before visiting the library for any more information. I also love networking and therefore know a team of qualified personnel who will not mind pointing me in the right direction.
18. What are Some of the Things You Would Like to Gain From this Job?
The interviewer wants to know what you hope to gain from being a graduate assistant. Mention some of your long-term goals instead of vague answers such as money. You can start by outlining the skills and experiences that you intend to get from this job.
I want to connect with talented professionals and students from this university to learn more from them. This will also be quite resourceful in my future ambitions of becoming a university professor. I’d also love to learn more about leadership, research, and prioritization, which I know will help me in my future endeavors.
19. We Have Over 50 Candidates Eyeing this Position. Why do You Think We Should Give You the Job?
The interviewer wants to know what sets you apart from the other candidates. Do not make assumptions about the other candidates bust instead, talk about your former experiences and the relevant skills you bring to the table.
I was a research assistant for two years, which taught me greatly about prioritization and exhausting online sources for information. I can handle potential problems in this field and deliver quick, workable solutions. I am also passionate and dedicated, traits that are needed for this role.
20. Mention One of Your Strengths that Will Come in Handy in this Job
This is a straightforward question. Think about any of the essential qualities required for this job that you have and make a connection.
I have excellent research skills, having spent a significant part of my life looking for information on new things. I always know the right places to look and the words to key in. I believe that this will come in handy since one of the items on the job description is researching.
We have exhausted some of the common questions you can expect in your graduate assistant interview. Ensure that you are eloquent and confident when answering these questions.