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Graduate School Interview Preparation

The one part of my Ph.D. process that didn’t worry me was my interview. However, for most students, I speak with it is the most terrifying. This one-hour process has eliminated exceptional students from great programs. What I have noticed is that students tend to “fail” at the interview because they do not know the purpose of the interview, what to expect, how to prepare and even how to dress. I'm going to let you in on the inside scoop of what graduate school interviewing process is all about with the hope this will help you gain acceptance into your program. But First Things First if you have been selected for an interview in any program please give yourself a round of applause. As this is an honor within itself.

The Purpose

The purpose of the interview is to allow members of the program to get a better “look” at you. To meet you in person and get a better feel for the information they have read about you. This is the opportunity to show them who you really are. They want to see your maturity, interpersonal skills, interest, motivation and how quickly you can think on your feet. You will be given the opportunity to tour campus and meet faculty, staff, and students. REMEMBER THIS IS YOUR INTERVIEW AS WELL! Use this time to ask all the questions you may have about the program, funding, research, and facilities.


Depending on the school and program the interview process can vary. The interview may be as little as 15 minutes to as long as an hour. Some Universities even offer weekend events with prospective candidates. During your interview, you will meet with faculty as well as students who are currently in the program and other applicants. This is the time that many students make mistakes they assume that faculty have their applications in front of them and they don’t sell themselves. Please don’t expect them to remember everything that is on your application. Show them who you are, bring to life everything that you wrote in your personal statement. Actively participate in all discussions, demonstrate your listing skills but please please please don’t try to dominate the conversation. Nobody likes a takeover.


Do your research! I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to be well versed on the program and the people who run the department. It is imperative that you learn all the pertinent information about the program and faculty. Make sure you are able to clearly articulate your goals, interest, and qualifications. Know what makes you a good fit for the program and be able to explain how your goals and qualifications match the mission and vision of the program. Anticipate questions and go over potential answers. Also, make sure that you prepare intelligent questions to ask. When you meet with students make sure to ask them about their experiences in the program.

During the Interview

Convey your interest, professionalism and be able to regurgitate the information you gathered about the program. Don’t underestimate the power of staff members and other graduate students. The faculty will ask them what they thought of you during the interview. Be forthcoming, humble and always assume that you are being evaluated even it is just a walk across campus. & Please come to the interview in Business Attire. During the interview remember that you made it to this stage in the game because you have something to bring to the table. Don’t psych yourself out, you're great and deserving of all that is coming your way!


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