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:
- How long does it take to complete the program as a full-time student vs. a part-time student?
- How feasible is it for a student to work full-time vs. part-time while in the program?
- What’s the professor to student ratio?
- How available are the professors to their students? Do they typically schedule office hours or perhaps provide email/cell phone contact as needed?
- 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?
- Are students required to find a site for their practicum on their own or does the school assist in linking them to programs?
- 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!