Prepare for a Graduate School Interview
You'll probably be more than a little nervous on interview day. Here are some tips to help you make the experience more manageable.
Before the Interview
- Arrive early if you can. Nothing is worse than being late to an interview, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there. Don't be rushed.
- Don't bring family members or girlfriends/boyfriends to the interview. Drop them off at the mall; give them movie money—just don't take them to your interview!
- Be sure to review your application and your personal statement before you arrive. The interviewer may ask you specific questions concerning your application and personal statement. Bring a copy with you.
- After arriving at the admissions office, be sure to be polite to the receptionist or other support staff. A rude comment or inappropriate behavior can quickly be passed on to admissions committee members.
- Treat every interaction as if it were an integral part of the interview.
During the Interview
- Acknowledge the interviewer by name ("Hello, Dr. X") and introduce yourself.
- Shake hands. Be firm, but not bone-crunching.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Don't fidget, cross your arms, or touch any items on the interviewer's desk.
- Try not to speak too quickly.
- Smile at appropriate times.
- Avoid being arrogant and dogmatic. At the same time, do not compromise your views in order to please the interviewer. Be firm, but flexible.
- If the interviewer is being antagonistic, do not answer in kind. Think before you speak and do not raise your voice. Be cool and composed.
- If you don't know the answer to a specific question, don't be afraid to say that you don't know. If you try to make something up, the interviewer will see right through you. This could simply be a composure test. It takes a great deal of maturity to simply say, "I don't know." (Of course, you can't answer "I don't know" if the question is "Tell me about yourself.")
After the Interview
- Shake hands and say good-bye.
- You should write your interviewer a thank-you note. Be sure to obtain the address of the interviewer through the admissions office or get their card. A short note or email is appropriate (but no novelty greeting cards, please). Try to mention something specific about your interview.
- You can express your continued interest in the school, but don't grovel. The truth is that the thank-you note probably won't make any difference in your candidacy.