In my last blog post I talked about three things you could do to get started on preparing for your interview: setting the date, research and talking points. Now that those are in progress (or collected), let me talk about the last few things you can do to prepare yourself completely for your interview.
Questions for the Interviewer
This, for me, and others, is a challenging part of preparing for the interviewing process. This supports why researching the school and the program is so important. A lot of the questions that you will be asking will be based off of your research. When you think of these questions, be sure to write them down on a note pad and don’t be afraid to bring that in with you to the interview. There are only a few things that I would suggest you ask them: “When you can expect to hear from them either way?” and “How will you hear from them?” (if not answered within the first question). Some other suggestions of questions you could ask if you’re struggling to find something’s to ask them: “What qualities do they look for in applicants?” and “Do they provide assistantships or other employment (or internships) options within the program?” Some questions may also come up within the interview as well.
This may be a silly thing to think about, but it’s important. You will want to dress nicely and present yourself in a professional manner, but also find something that shows off your personality a little bit. You will want to wear something that you’re comfortable in (ladies, wear shoes that you are able to walk around in for a potential tour) and something that is complimentary on you. If you’re having a hard time finding something here are some generic suggestions. Ladies: dress pants and a nice top (with a potential cute suit jacket over it). Skirts are okay as long as they are at an appropriate length. Stay away from low cut shirts. Gentlemen: dress pants, dress shirt and tie (possibility for a suit jacket over it, if you’re comfortable with it) along with dress shoes (don’t forget the black socks).
Last Few Steps
Once all your preparation is done, I highly suggest you schedule a mock interview with a career counselor in Career & Internship Services. The process can be very useful because the counselor can reassure you that you’re ready and may bring up good points that you didn’t think of. There is no particular way these are done: the career counselor may ask you questions similar to what may be asked in the interview, you will answer and they will debrief with you after each question; you can discuss what you’re worried about, how the process usually works, and then brainstorm your talking points; or you can do a full fledged interview and debrief afterwards. Whatever way the mock interview is done, feel free to take notes during the process and review them before your actual interview.
When I was going in for my mock interview I asked the question of wearing my interview outfit to the mock interview. You don’t have to but it wouldn’t hurt; it gets you in the mindset and you can also get feedback on how it looks. I recommend getting the mock interview in a week or so before your actual interview so you have time to digest what was discussed in the mock interview.
Last, but certainly not least, allow yourself time to relax and congratulate yourself in the fact that you’ve been offered an interview. These are big steps that are taken and should only be positively recognized!