The grueling process of applying to grad school is over! You’ve come to the conclusion that grad school is the next best step for you and you’ve decided which one(s) you want to attend and you’ve taken care of the long and tedious applications. And now, you’ve landed the interview leading you to excitement along with a lot of questions stirring up inside of you. Having been through the process (that turned into acceptance) myself, I want to share some tips and things to think about while prepping for the interview that will hopefully lead to success for you.
There are very few basic things that I would like to touch on before digging deep into the interview prepping process. First and foremost, not all grad schools require an interview process but the majority of them do. I would suggest that while applying assume that interviews are apart of the process (unless you are told otherwise). Also, interviews can be very terrifying because this is something you are passionate about and want to succeed in. I’m giving you these tips in hopes of bringing down the nervousness of the interview process so more of you can shine through.
Setting the Date
You are notified about your invitation for an interview with the school through either and email and/or a phone call. They will supply you with dates they are holding interviews and they will ask you for a response on which date would work best for you. Try to get within one of those dates, they do understand, however, that there may be some traveling issues and will acknowledge that. When you have finished the email or phone call, be sure to thank them for taking the time to review your material and call you in for further consideration. Now that you have set the date, the fun really beings!
Just how professors advise for your class work, don’t procrastinate when it comes to preparing for interviews. It may not seem like it now but there is so much to know and learn before the interview day actually rolls around. You want to be able to sit with that information for a good amount of time so that when you’re being asked questions, you are confident and it comes naturally to you. You want to feel as ready as possible and the sooner you start the more comfortable and prepared you’re going to be.
Information preparation consists of researching the school and the program in depth. Some of the main things you will want to look at: the history of the program you’re applying to, things they offer throughout your years there within that program, information on the individual who will be interviewing you, and courses (read through and get a gist for how the program works). Chances are they aren’t going to ask you any questions related to the history of the school or anything like that but it’s good to be knowledgeable of the school; just like researching for a job interview, you want to know your stuff.
Talking points are things that you want to make sure you touch upon in the interview. For instance, I had an interview for a Marriage and Family Therapy program so I wanted to make sure that I talked about my personal experiences that I went through that helped me decide the career path I’ve chosen. I also had connections to individuals associated with the university so I made a point to get in contact with them and stay in contact with them. I also discussed my strengths and weaknesses (which is always a good thing to discuss and chances are they will ask you this question) and with my weaknesses I gave examples of things I’m already doing to strengthen those weaknesses. Lastly, I also left them with a strong thing to think about that I thought would set me apart from the other applicants. Long story short, talking points are anything that you want to make sure you tell them because you feel that they will set you apart from other applicants.
Start with these few pointers, which should give you a good base to start with, and stay tuned for Part II of preparing for a grad school interview.
Of possible interest:
- Practice interview with a counselor (stop by SCC 22 today to make an appointment)
- Interview Like a Pro
- Grad School: Now or Later?
- Exploring Graduate & Professional Schools
- Applying to Graduate & Professional School
- Graduate & Professional School Resources