Graduate school interviews are a very important part of the application process. They are designed to see how well you fit and how successful you will be in a particular program. If you have been selected for an interview, the program already views you as a strong candidate. With a bit of preparation, you can be confident in your interview.
Programs will usually invite applicants to the campus for a weekend. They will have events planned for applicants in addition to the interview generally including a group social with students, faculty, and staff as well as a tour of the campus and a poster session with the research of the current graduate students in the program. Make sure to check whether the program will be paying for travel and other expenses. If the programs you have applied to are not, you may need to prioritize interviews with your top choices above those you are less interested in.
Depending on the program you are applying for, interviews can be formal to informal or a combination of the two. Make sure to dress professionally. Proper attire can include a suit, dress, blazer, dress shirt, tie, knee-length skirt, dress shoes, jacket, and minimal jewelry. Try to avoid loud, flashy, sheer, and low-cut clothing. If you are in doubt as to whether it is appropriate, play it safe. Ensure that you are on time. Turn off your cell phone before the interview begins.
The APA suggests that you take “the Triple I Approach” – be informed, interested, and inquisitive during the interview. Know the program’s faculty, what their faculty researches, what their requirements are, and why the program would be beneficial to your career goals. Specifically mention your interest in the program. Directly say that you would love to do your graduate work with this program. Ask questions about the program including funding, student life, courses available, and other related questions. In addition to making sure you fit the program, you want to make sure the program and everything it offers fits you in order to have a happy and successful time in your graduate studies.
A list of questions that may be asked of you and suggestions of questions to ask the interviewer can be found here. Be sure to answer questions in an articulate way that demonstrates how you would be a benefit to the program, intelligence, and professionalism. After the interview, thank the interviewers for their time and consideration.
If the program does have other activities planned for you to participate in, remember that you are always being interviewed. Current graduate students will also be weighing in on whether you are a good fit for the program so behave respectfully and appropriately at all times. This applies to any off-campus activities as well such as going to a bar.