Most reputable graduate schools require admissions interviews, and doing well on grad school interviews can mean the difference between attending top tier schools and having to settle for lesser known alternatives.
Graduate school interviews are nearly always required for academic programs in broadcast journalism or business that emphasize good interpersonal and communication skills. While some jobs place more emphasis on demonstrated skills rather than graduate school rankings, many more employment opportunities become available for graduates with advanced degrees from highly respected universities. Subsequently, it is prudent for students to prepare as thoroughly as possible for admissions interviews and to treat them as they would job interviews or other tests.
Here are some common steps that successful graduate school candidates use to ace their grad school interview.
Research the Academic Program Thoroughly
The best way to prepare for school interviews is to know as much about the discipline and the schools’ programs as possible before even one question is asked. Most aspiring graduate students already know quite a bit about their discipline, but it helps to keep subject knowledge current by researching the latest news about the discipline. This can be done by reading industry journals that can be accessed through memberships in professional associations. Potential students should know and be prepared to speak about the benefits of studying their chosen subject at the particular school for which they are interviewing. A student who wants to enter a graduate level environmental science program would mention that they want to attend the school’s Master of Sustainable Management because it was ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for its diversity of learning methods that take students out of the classroom and into the field or lab.
Know Your Weaknesses and Play to Your Strengths
Everybody has some weaknesses, but a graduate school interview is not the time to dwell on them. A student may understand their penchant for over analysis of subject matter that often results in late deliveries of assignments. After mentioning this weakness, they should emphasize their strength of paying great attention to detail. They can also follow up with any examples of how they were able to effectively communicate those details to others within collaborative team environments. These are the types of students that perform well within cohort styled academic programs that are so popular among today’s graduate schools.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Asking appropriate questions during admissions interviews demonstrates candidates’ interests as well as their analytical and problem solving abilities. Most admissions interviewers will not miss the opportunity to assess what is on the minds of candidates who want to enter their graduate programs. Open ended questions can spark conversations that allow candidates’ real personalities to shine through. Potential graduate students just have to remember to keep the content of their conversations as professional as possible. There are a number of types of interview styles that university admissions officers use to select desirable candidates. Candidates should try to find out what type of interview that they will have and practice giving several mock interviews before the real one occurs.
Job seekers in nearly all industries face an increasingly competitive job market, and they usually choose to attend graduate school to gain an advantage. However, many of them find that getting into top tier graduate school is almost as challenging as gaining desirable employment. For these students, grad school interviews can be used as opportunities to highlight their skills, professional interests and plans for the future that may set them apart from other graduate school admissions candidates.
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