How Can I Best Prepare For A Grad School Interview?

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Updated August 4, 2020

Graduate school gives you the chance to hone your skills, learn more about your chosen profession and make contacts that can assist you with finding a job after you graduate. Applying for grad school typically involves answering several essay questions, submitting letters to support your application and sending a copy of your transcripts to the school. Depending on your field of study, you might face a grad school interview also, and you need to know how to prepare for that interview.

Research the School

Research the school, the program and the professors before you arrive at the interview. Learning more about the school will help you know which questions to ask and how to set yourself apart from the pack. Most graduate schools only have a limited number of spots available and multiple people vying for those spots. Some of those students won't ask a single question, but asking a few simple questions will show the interviewer that you truly care about the program. You might ask about internship opportunities, research grants available for students or the work that certain professors do in the field.

Look at Sample Questions

Marie Willsey recommends that you look at the sample questions the interviewer might ask and prepare your responses to those questions. The interviewer will typically ask you a few questions about your background and education. You need to explain why you decided to study in the field, the steps that you took to prepare yourself for graduate school and what you did during college. If you have any gaps in your work history or poor grades, now is the chance to explain yourself. You might talk about how you took some time off to help a sick family member or how a car accident led to you withdrawing from school for a semester.

Highlight Your Best Features

Nearly every grade school interviewer will ask you questions about your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Students often assume that the interviewer wants the right answer or the correct answer, and those students will answer questions as if they were in a job interview. The school wants an objective view of you as a person, which means that you need to remain honest. If you have trouble managing your time effectively, tell your interviewer that. When you show both your strengths and weaknesses, you show yourself as well-rounded person. Make sure that your interviewer leaves the meeting with a better understanding of you as a person. Talk about how you handle stress, your hobbies and even the extracurricular activities you took part in as an undergraduate.

Make a Follow Up Call

After your interview ends, take the time to make a follow up call. Call your interviewer, let the person know that you enjoyed your meeting and ask if there is anything you can do. This shows the interviewer that you have a serious interest in the program and that you want a spot in the next class. If you don't have a phone number for your interviewer, send a short email.

Not all graduate schools require an interview, and other schools conduct a basic interview over the phone. Preparing for that interview the right way can help you nail the meeting and make a good first impression. Practice sample questions, highlight your best features and research the school before you sit down for that interview.

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