Preparing for the Graduate School Interview

At times, many of us are fortunate enough to express our enthusiasm for a school not just through the paper application process, but a face to face interview. As daunting as it sounds, this is a great opportunity and must be used to the full advantage. This is an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are and the impact you will have if given the chance to attend the institution. Yet, the entire process can still be very nerve-wrecking with tremendous pressure applied. Here are some tips to prepare you for the interview process:

  • Get to know the program to which you are applying
    • What makes this program special?
    • Why is this school the one you have always wanted to attend?

Even though these questions are common, they are also two of the most difficult because you never want your answer to sound cliche. Think outside the box about what makes the school and program unique. Have they invested in a certain type of research? Or maybe they offer a type of program that no other institution offers? The takeaway: Highlight uniqueness.

  • Ensure you are able to express what you are most passionate about when it comes to your future profession.

This is the big why question. Why are you doing this? What was the pivotal moment in your life when you realized this was the path you wanted to take? This is almost saying your personal statement out loud because as you highlight the points in your journey that helped you make your decision, you are going to highlight your experiences as well.

  • Take a note of who is going be interviewing you. Is it a dean? Your potential advisor? other graduate students? This can help you prepare for who you are going to encounter and what types of questions you can not only expect but also ask.

As you schedule your interviews, feel free to ask about your interview committee. This will give you a sense before-hand of attendees.

  • Be friendly and engaged

This is the time for your personality to shine.  Be relaxed and be yourself. Your resume and your application speaks for itself. Let this be just the icing on the cake.  When you take the pressure off, it will be an enjoyable encounter.

  • Ask questions about the school and the program

Remember, they are also being interviewed by you as much as you are being interviewed by them. Ask the questions you need to know the answers to in order to ensure that this school is the right fit for you.

  • Have confidence

The program wants you. If they did not, they would not take the time to have you visit them for a face-to-face interview. Think about this when you need a self-confidence boost.

Remember, you have made it this far and this is nothing more than you showing them the awesome and brilliant person they already know you are.  You got this!

For further interview guidance and one on one mentorship, please feel free to reach out to me.

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