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Mastering The Graduate School Interview

Michael Fleischner,

Today, more graduate programs than ever are requiring a one-on-one interview, especially medical and business schools. If you want to stand out from a large or highly skilled pool of applicants, consider adding an interview to the application mix even if it is not required.

The interview gives you the best opportunity to sell yourself and put a face on a real application. Since interviews are not necessarily mandatory, don’t hesitate to request one. There’s a good change that an interview will sway the admission team of the grad school you’re planning to attend.

Whether an interview is required or not, it resembles a professional interview for a job. If you know how to present yourself in the best possible light, and talk the talk of a skilled applicant, you’ll be that much more appealing to the admission committee. Make the best of this opportunity and leave a great impression by following some simple advice:

1. Do your homework. Be sure to thoroughly research the program you’re interviewing for so you can respond to and ask questions intelligently. You should also consider reviewing like programs so that you can ask intelligent comparative questions.

2. Before the interview, get to know the professors at the school you’re considering. If the school is far away, find out who the big players are, make some phone calls, and get your name out there.

3. In preparation, write your personal essay before your interview as it can help you respond to issues that may come up.

4. Prepare for this interview like you would for a job interview. Be ready to discuss your academic and professional goals, areas of interest, and motivation for graduate study.

5. Be prepared to answer questions in a way that demonstrates how you solve problems and articulate your ideas. The interviewer is interested not only in the content of your answers, but how your structure them as well.

6. Ask questions that are important to the interviewer and graduate program. They will give you and the interviewer insight into your personality and priorities.

7. Be sure you are dressed properly. That means dressing as if you are going to a professional interview.

Your academic interview is a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd of other applicants. Remember that most of the time the people interviewing you are more interested in hearing how you think, rather than what you’re thinking.

As a result, you may receive hypothetical questions with little meaning. Remember that the interviewer is simply trying to get a feel for how you structure your thoughts. As a result, don’t be afraid to pause, collect your thoughts and then respond.

The interview can be the difference between admission and rejection. Take it seriously and your that much closer to an acceptance letter.

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