20 McMaster University Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at McMaster University.

McMaster University is a public research university located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is on 121 hectares of land near the residential neighbourhoods of Ainslie Wood and Westdale, adjacent to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

As one of Canada’s leading research universities, McMaster is known for its competitive interview process. If you’re hoping to land a spot at McMaster, you can expect to be asked a range of questions about your qualifications, experience, and goals.

In this guide, we’ve provided a list of sample McMaster interview questions and answers to help you prepare for your interview.

McMaster University Interview Process

The interview process at McMaster University can vary depending on the position you are applying for. For some positions, such as a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant, you may be asked to send in your resume and cover letter first. You may then be contacted for a virtual or in-person interview, where you will be asked questions about your experience and qualifications. For other positions, such as an Administrative Assistant, you may be asked to participate in a panel interview. This type of interview involves multiple interviewers asking you questions about your experience and qualifications.

Common McMaster University Interview Questions

1. What are your research interests?

McMaster University is a research-intensive institution, so it’s likely that you’ll be asked about your academic interests. This question allows the interviewer to assess whether your goals align with those of the university and department. When answering this question, make sure to mention any specific projects or publications you’ve worked on in the past.

Example: “I’m passionate about studying how technology impacts our lives. I recently completed my undergraduate thesis on the effects of social media on mental health. My findings showed that people who use social media more frequently are more likely to experience symptoms of depression. While these results were not surprising, they do show that we need to take steps to limit screen time for children and teens.”

2. Why do you want to work for McMaster University?

McMaster University is a large institution with many departments and programs. The interviewer wants to know why you are specifically interested in working for their department. Show that you have done your research on the position, the university and its mission.

Example: “I am very passionate about education and I believe it’s important to provide students with an inclusive environment where they can learn from each other as well as their professors. McMaster University has a reputation for being one of Canada’s most diverse universities, which makes me want to work here even more. I would love to be part of this community.”

3. How would you handle a student who was not doing well in the class and how did you help them improve their grades?

McMaster University wants to know that you can help students succeed in your classroom. This question is an opportunity for you to show how you will be a positive influence on the university’s student body.

Example: “I have had this situation happen before, and I always try my best to make sure that I am available to talk with them about their concerns. If they are having trouble understanding the material, I offer extra help after class or during office hours. Sometimes, it just takes one-on-one attention to get them back on track. If they are struggling because of personal issues, I encourage them to reach out to campus resources so we can work together to find solutions.”

4. Tell us about an experience where you had to deal with conflict between two or more groups, how did you handle it?

McMaster University is a diverse campus with students from all over the world. The admissions committee wants to know that you can handle conflict and work well with others. This question also allows you to show your problem-solving skills, communication skills and leadership qualities.

Example: “In my last internship at an advertising agency, I had to deal with conflict between two groups of employees. One group was made up of mostly senior members who were used to doing things their way. They didn’t like change and felt it was unnecessary for them to learn new software. The other group was younger and more open to learning new things.

I met with both groups separately and asked each one what they wanted. I found out that the older group just needed some training on how to use the new software. The younger group agreed to help train the older group in exchange for being able to try out the new software first.”

5. Do you have any teaching experience? If so, please describe your experiences.

McMaster University is looking for candidates with teaching experience. If you have any, be sure to describe your experiences and how they helped prepare you for this interview.

Example: “I’ve had several different types of teaching experiences throughout my career. I started out as a substitute teacher in high school, which gave me the opportunity to work with students at all levels. In college, I was an adjunct professor for two years, where I taught introductory biology courses. Last year, I became a full-time professor at Western State College, where I teach upper-level biology classes.”

6. How would you approach a challenging situation with a student who is causing trouble in the classroom?

McMaster University is a large university with many different departments. The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your ability to work in a team and solve problems. Use examples from past experiences where you helped resolve conflict or worked with others to find solutions.

Example: “In my last position, I had a student who was causing trouble in the classroom by talking out of turn and disrupting other students. At first, I tried to ignore it because I didn’t want to embarrass the student. However, after several warnings, I spoke privately with the student and explained that their behavior would result in an academic warning if they continued. After that, the student stopped disrupting class.”

7. What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

McMaster University wants to know what your strengths are and how you can use them in the classroom. They also want to know about any weaknesses you have and how you plan to improve upon them. When answering this question, it’s important to be honest and specific.

Example: “I am a very organized person, which helps me stay on top of my work. However, I do sometimes get overwhelmed with all of the tasks that need to be done at once. To combat this weakness, I make sure to prioritize my assignments and set aside time each day to complete them. This has helped me manage my time more effectively and avoid procrastination.”

8. Can you tell me about a time when you were working on a team project and there was conflict, how did you handle it?

McMaster University is a large university with many different departments and programs. They want to make sure you can work well in a team environment, especially if you are going to be working on projects with other students or faculty members. This question helps them understand how you handle conflict and whether you have any experience doing so.

Example: “I once worked on a project for my marketing class where we had to create an ad campaign for a specific product. I was part of the group that chose to advertise a new type of coffee. However, one member of our group wanted to advertise a different brand of coffee. We discussed it at length and decided to compromise by advertising both brands. It helped us learn more about each other’s opinions and find common ground.”

9. If hired, what type of projects would you be interested in working on?

McMaster University is a research institution, so they want to know that you’re interested in working on projects that will benefit the university and its students. When answering this question, it’s important to show your enthusiasm for the position by listing some of the types of projects you would be excited to work on.

Example: “I’m very passionate about STEM education, so I would love to work on any project that helps improve science or math education at the high school level. I also think it’s important to encourage women and minorities to pursue careers in STEM fields, so I’d like to help with any initiatives that support these groups.”

10. Describe some of your research interests and why they interest you.

McMaster University is a research-intensive institution, so it’s likely that the interviewer will ask you this question to assess your interest in conducting research. When answering this question, try to describe two or three of your most interesting research projects and explain why they’re important to you.

Example: “I’ve always been interested in how technology can improve our lives. In my last role as an IT specialist at a small business, I developed a new software program for managing inventory. The company was able to use the software to reduce its costs by 10%, which allowed them to hire more employees and expand their product line.”

11. We are looking for candidates that can teach at least one course in this department, which courses could you potentially teach?

McMaster University is looking for candidates that can teach in their department. This question helps them determine if you have the skills to be a successful teacher at this university. When answering this question, it’s important to show your knowledge of the subject and how you could effectively teach it.

Example: “I would love to teach Introduction to Psychology because I feel like it’s an important course for students to take. It teaches them about the basics of psychology and gives them a foundation for learning more advanced topics later on. I think teaching this class would be fun because I enjoy sharing my passion for psychology with others.”

12. When was the last time you had to mentor someone? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

McMaster University is looking for candidates who are willing to mentor students. This question helps the interviewer determine if you have experience mentoring and how well you can help others succeed. Use your answer to highlight your communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.

Example: “When I was a senior in high school, I had a younger cousin who wanted to be an engineer like me. He would ask me questions about my classes and what it’s like to be an engineer. I enjoyed helping him learn more about engineering and sharing some of my experiences with him. As he got older, he started asking me more advanced questions about my job as an engineer. I realized that I could use my knowledge to help him get his career off to a good start.”

13. What is your philosophy on mentoring students?

McMaster University is a large institution with many students. The interviewer wants to know how you will help your mentees succeed in their academic and professional pursuits. Use examples from past experiences where you helped others develop skills or strategies for success.

Example: “I believe that every student has the ability to be successful, but they need someone to guide them along the way. I have had several mentors throughout my career who helped me learn new concepts and find ways to apply those concepts to real-world situations. As a result, I am passionate about helping other students reach their goals by providing guidance and support.”

14. What is your opinion on current events in our field?

McMaster University is looking for candidates who are passionate about their field of study. This question allows you to show your knowledge and interest in the current events happening in your industry. When answering this question, try to relate a recent news story back to your experience or how it might affect your future career.

Example: “I recently read an article about how many companies are using AI technology to automate customer service calls. I think that’s amazing because I’ve always been interested in voice recognition software. I would love to work on projects like that one day.”

15. Are you comfortable leading large group discussions?


16. What makes a good teacher?

McMaster University is looking for a teacher who can inspire students to learn and grow. They want someone who has the ability to connect with their students, so they ask this question to see if you have any ideas about what makes a good teacher. When answering this question, think of some qualities that make you an effective educator.

Example: “A good teacher should be passionate about their subject matter. I believe it’s important to show your students how much you love learning, as it will help them develop a similar passion for education. A great teacher also needs to be organized and prepared. It’s important to give clear instructions and assignments to your students, so they know exactly what they need to do to succeed in class. Finally, a good teacher should be available to answer questions or provide extra support when needed.”

17. How would you handle a student who was struggling to understand certain concepts in the class?

McMaster University is interested in hiring instructors who can help students learn and understand the material they’re teaching. They want to know that you have experience helping students overcome challenges with coursework, so answer this question by describing a time when you helped a student succeed despite their initial struggles.

Example: “In my current position as an instructor at a community college, I had a student who was struggling to grasp some of the basic concepts of our class. We met after class one day to discuss his progress, and he told me that he felt overwhelmed by all of the information we were covering. I suggested that he take notes during lectures and review them each night before bed. He also started using flashcards to practice key terms and definitions. By following these steps, he improved his grade from a C to an A.”

18. Please give examples of how you motivate yourself to achieve your goals.

McMaster University is interested in hiring individuals who are self-motivated and can work independently. This question helps the interviewer determine how you will motivate yourself to achieve your goals while working at McMaster University. Use examples from previous experiences where you set goals for yourself, created a plan of action and achieved those goals.

Example: “I am very motivated by competition. In my last job as an administrative assistant, I had a goal to complete all of my tasks before noon each day. To help me reach this goal, I would create a list of daily tasks that needed to be completed. Then, I would prioritize which tasks were most important to do first. After completing my top priority task, I would move on to the next one until I finished all of my tasks for the day.”

19. Do you have any experience working with children?

McMaster University is a large school with many students. The university wants to make sure that you have experience working with children, as they may need your help during orientation and other events. If you do not have any experience working with children, consider volunteering at a local school or daycare center.

Example: “I worked as a camp counselor for two summers while I was in college. It was an amazing experience because I got to work with kids of all ages and see them grow over the summer. I learned how to manage a group of kids and keep them safe. I also helped them learn new things and develop their social skills.”

20. Have you ever been responsible for managing a budget?

McMaster University is a large institution with many different departments and programs. The interviewer wants to know if you have experience managing budgets for your previous employers or yourself, as this can be an important skill when working in higher education.

Example: “Yes, I’ve been responsible for my own budgeting since I was 18 years old. My parents taught me how to manage money from a young age, so it’s something that comes naturally to me. In college, I had a part-time job at the campus bookstore where I learned about budgeting even more. We were required to submit weekly reports on our sales and expenses, which helped me learn how to balance my checkbook.”


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