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Career Services

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.

Sample Questions
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.

For assistance or more information, please contact us, either by stopping by the Career Center or by making an appointment with a Career Counselor.