After you’ve sent out your applications to prospective graduate schools, chances are the ones that are interested will ask you to come on campus for an interview. A graduate program interview is comparable to being asked for a second job interview, and usually occurs after an initial phone interview. It will last anywhere from an hour to a full day, depending on the school’s policy.
If you are one of the lucky applicants to be asked in for an interview, congratulations! This means that the school is seriously considering admitting you into their masters degree or doctoral program, but they want to make sure that you present as well in person as you do on paper.
Attending a graduate school interview may seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have much general interviewing experience. However, by following these helpful tips and ideas, you will be well on your way to being accepted into your top graduate program.
Before the Graduate School Interview
Prepare, prepare, prepare! Don’t let yourself be caught off guard with questions. At a graduate school interview, any line of questioning is fair game.
An interview for a graduate program is your time to sell yourself to your prospective school. In order to be fully prepared, there are common actions that applicants perform:
- Learn about the program. Find out as much information you can on the school’s website, course catalogue and student handbook.
- Prepare questions to ask. Asking questions shows the school your strong interest in the graduate program.
- Find out what research is being conducted by the faculty. Specifically, research what professors are doing in the areas related to your field.
- Create a list of talents and achievements related to your field. The interview is not the time to be modest. Boast about your experience and exude a sense of pride over your achievements.
- Be truthful about your weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. The school knows this, and you should too. They will appreciate your ability to be honest and analytical about your own short comings.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before. You want your mind to be alert and well-rested for your graduate school interview.
During the Graduate School Interview
Graduate school interviews usually take place on a Friday or Monday. Before you leave your house the day of the interview, look over your outfit. If you look clean, professional and comfortable, then you are on the right track. Even though you may have already submitted these documents, bring extra copies of your GRE scores, transcripts and purpose statement. Your interviewers will appreciate your preparedness.
Don’t think that all of the pressure is on you at a graduate school interview. The school must also answer your questions to determine if the school is the right fit for you. In addition to asking questions about graduate programs and professors, you should try to meet with current graduate students to ask them questions about their experience.
Finally, some interviews are accompanied by an event to see how you socialize and mix with other faculty and students that you will be working closely with, should you be accepted. If you are required to attend an event, remember to keep your drinking to a minimum, even if others are having a few too many. The faculty will be keeping a close eye on you, and they do not want to accept someone who values partying more than their studies.
Favorable qualities for a graduate student applicant include:
- Communication skills
- Emotional stability
After Your Graduate School Interview
Right when you finish your interview, it is important to write down your initial perceptions of the school. This will help you fairly compare all of the schools that have interviewed you. Additionally, it is common practice to send a thank you letter to your interviewers. An Email or letter send via regular mail are acceptable formats, but you should keep phone calls to a minimum.
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