Graduate school programs can be fiercely competitive, and it is common for an in-person interview to be part of the admission process. If you receive a request to come in for an interview – congratulations! This is a great opportunity, and it means the program is seriously considering you as a candidate. As such, the interview should not be taken lightly. This is your time to shine and stand out from the competition. It’s also the perfect opportunity to present the characteristics about you that can’t be conveyed on an application or in test scores.
Since you only have one chance to make a great first impression, the interview process can be rather intimidating, but don’t let nerves get the best of you. Follow these guidelines to tackle your interview with confidence:
- Dress to impress. Again, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and your visual appearance is a big part of that. Show the interviewer that you are serious by looking professional.
- Bring copies of your resume, transcripts, test scores and other supplemental documents submitted when you applied. In all likelihood the interviewer will not need them, but having them on hand just in case shows that you came prepared for anything.
- Be knowledgeable about both the school and the program. Look into the faculty and their specialties. Familiarize yourself with the curriculum. The fact that you take the time to research the program will show the interviewer that you are invested and committed to becoming a student.
- Rehearse commonly asked questions and be ready to explain why you are pursuing an advanced degree. Know your qualifications, your strengths and your weaknesses. Be ready to boast about past achievements as well as lessons learned from past missteps.
- Ask questions. Remember that this isn’t just an opportunity for the program to consider if you are a great candidate; it is also your chance to see if the school and program are actually the right fit for you.
- Let your personality shine. Test scores and an application don’t always represent a person’s tenacity and ambition. So, seize this opportunity, and don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Share your passions and the journey that led you to this program and this degree. Let them know why it is important to you.
Another tip that does not necessarily prepare you for the interview itself, but is great advice, would be to make the most out of your interview. For example, schedule a tour of the campus or try to schedule a meeting with another faculty member. Do something that will get you more familiar with the resources the institution has to offer and the graduate school experience.