Preparing for My Grad School Interview

I was ecstatic when I  was invited to interview for the opportunity to attend my dream grad school. My mom can affirm that I literally screamed when I heard the message. I immediately called back to confirm the interview. Then, being the worry wart that I am, I proceeded to research anything & everything that I could think of to help me prepare for that interview.

I started with the school’s website. Was there any information there that I could commit to memory? Particularly things that would make it seem as if I had truly done my research on the program & make me stand out as a candidate. My school is private and had only been WASC accredited since 2006, less than a decade. My position as a Quality Assurance Specialist required that I have knowledge of WASC for our non-public school. I used their somewhat recent accreditation as a way of demonstrating both my interest in their program and my professional experience.

I then compiled a list of questions to ask my interviewers when given a chance. My plan was to make it clear that while they would be determining whether I was qualified to attend their school, I would be deciding whether or not the school was able to meet all of my needs as a student. A few items on my list included:

  1. How long does it take to complete the program as a full-time student vs. a part-time student?
  2. How feasible is it for a student to work full-time vs. part-time while in the program?
  3. What’s the professor to student ratio?
  4. How available are the professors to their students? Do they typically schedule office hours or perhaps provide email/cell phone contact as needed?
  5.  I noticed financial aid information is posted on the school’s website, but are one-on-one consultations provided if needed to help in understanding the financial aid process?
  6. Are students required to find a site for their practicum on their own or does the school assist in linking them to programs?
  7. Is a thesis required to graduate? Research project? Test?

Personally, I was less concerned with what I would say in response to their questions than what I would be asking them. After all, talking about yourself is the easy part. All in all, I believe I spent just as long asking them questions as they did asking me. It definitely payed off! At about question 5 they teased, “Are we interviewing you, or the other way around?” To which I replied, “Well, I have a very important decision to make as well!” At the end, they told me they were very impressed by my preparedness. Then a few days later when they called to offer me a spot in the program, they mentioned that I was by far the most impressive interviewee they had! Lesson of the day: you can never be too prepared!

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