Graduate Admission: Tips for a Great Interview

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Much like the undergraduate application process, there probably won’t be any interview requirements for graduate school admission (though interviews are required by most medical schools and some business schools). However, this doesn’t mean you can’t schedule an interview if you really want the opportunity to sell yourself.

If you think an interview will sway the graduate admission team of the school you’re longing to attend, by all means call the school and request one! There’s a good chance your request will be granted.

Graduate school admissions: Take the professional approach to interviews

Required or not, an interview for graduate school admissions resembles a professional interview for a job. If you know how to look the look, walk the walk, and talk the talk, you’ll be that much more appealing to the graduate admission committee. Make the most of this opportunity and leave a great impression by following some simple advice:

  • Prior to interviewing, 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.
  • Do your homework on the program you’re interviewing for so you can respond to and ask questions intelligently.
  • Write your personal essay before you have your interview -- it will help you respond to issues that may come up.
  • Prepare like you would for a job interview and be ready to discuss your professional goals, areas of interest, and motivation for graduate study.
  • Be prepared to answer questions in a way that demonstrates how you solve problems and articulate your ideas.
  • Keep in mind that interviewers are probably more interested in your character than how much you know.
  • Ask questions that matter to you and give the interviewer insight into your personality and priorities. Don’t ask questions that can be answered in the school’s literature.
  • Be sure you are dressed properly. That means dressing as if you are going to a professional interview.
  • Present yourself as positively as possible. Talk about your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Graduate school admissions: A final word on interviews

Interviews are generally not part of the graduate school application process, though they are often associated with the graduate school requirements for medical and business schools. Even if an interview is not required, though, it can be a perfect opportunity to "sell" yourself to the school, and stand out from the pack.

Remember -- most of the time, the people interviewing you are more interested in hearing how you think, rather than what you think. Controversial questions or hypothetical questions may be tossed your way. Don’t stray too far from what you know and remember what it is they’re trying to draw out, and you’ll do great!

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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