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Ways to Practice for Graduate School Interviews

by Fitzalan Gorman, studioD

The graduate school interview process may seem daunting, but with a little practice, you can turn this into an enjoyable conversation where you can showcase your enthusiasm, maturity and drive. Begin by doing your research about the school, know details about your intended department and faculty, and then start practicing for your interview. If you know any other graduate students from the school, contact them for the inside scoop on the interview process.

Know Yourself

The graduate school invited you to an interview because they have started narrowing down their applicant pool. They want to get to know their applicants better before they decide which candidates to admit. You can prepare for this part of your interview by reflecting on your professional goals and how you think graduate school will help you reach these goals. In your answers, use any research experience or job skills that may set you apart from other applicants. If you have a senior undergraduate thesis that relates, now is your chance to talk about it. This shows that you are passionate about your chosen field of study and have already dedicated your work to the topic.

Know The Institution

A major purpose of the graduate school interview is for the school to know that you are serious about their program. You must demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the program for which you are applying. A few points you should consider ahead of time are the distinguishing characteristics of the program, the students it typically attracts, who the faculty members are and any specialties or research they are conducting.

Handling Graduate School Transition

Graduate school is a demanding experience. It is a sizable investment of your time and money. Interviewers want to see that their school matches with your goals. They also want to see that you will be able to successfully handle the graduate school workload and demands. To help show that you are ready for graduate school, highlight any skills, such as communication, teamwork, or time management, which you have learned or developed. Interviewers like to hear specific examples when describing these skills.

Final Considerations

Even if you have prepared a solid answer to every interview question, you still need to deliver it well. By practicing speaking out loud in front of the mirror or to friends, colleagues or family members, you get more comfortable with talking about yourself. This is your chance to get honest feedback so you can address any uncomfortable pauses, "ums" or stutters. Go back and refresh your memory on your application essay. While the interviewer may not have read your essay, that does not mean that he is not familiar with the topic. Be prepared to go into greater depth as to why you chose your point of view.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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