Interviewing for Further Education

Career Services

Interviewing for Further Education

If you are applying to graduate school, you may be asked to come in to the institution for what is called an admissions interview. This interview is a chance for their faculty members to meet you to find out if you have the potential to be successful in their program. They will have already reviewed your academic records. Now is their chance to speak to you in person and learn more about you. It is also a chance for you to meet them to see if your career goals fit with the design of their program.

To begin your preparations for the interview, it is important to review the program description and any documents that they have sent you as part of the interview package. Graduate interviews vary considerably in terms of the length of time and the format that will be followed, so be sure to find out about this ahead of time.

Factors to consider

The institution’s perspective:

The decision regarding whether or not to accept a candidate into a program is usually based on a number of different factors. They will have already reviewed your academic transcripts and can see that you have the academic potential. Now they need to find out a little bit more about you as a person to see if you are a good fit.

Here is a partial list of what they will be considering:

First impression - Are you dressed appropriately for the interview? Are you punctual? Did you take the time to find out the location of the interview so that you would arrive approximately 10 minutes before the start of your meeting? Do you appear calm and collected (or scattered and disorganized)?

Knowledge of self - Do you know what your career goals are? Have you thought about how your career goals fit it with the design of the program? Are you able to provide concrete proof of your skills, abilities and accomplishments? Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses and the areas that need further development? Were there any subject areas that you were weak in? If so, will it impact your ability to be successful in the program? Have you thought about how you will manage the stress of being in a competitive academic program? If you are not successful at this stage, do you have a Plan B?

Research skills - Have you demonstrated genuine interest in the program and the institution by doing the necessary research? Did you take the time to learn about the faculty members and their areas of research? Have you had a chance to visit the campus and see the facilities that are offered? Do you have a detailed list of questions for them, based on the research that you completed?

Listening skills - Do you show sincere interest in learning more by listening without interrupting, maintaining eye contact and demonstrating appropriate body language and posture?

Verbal communication skills - Do you use appropriate grammar and vocabulary? Is your tone of voice clear and confident?

Written communication skills - Do you know how to correspond in a business-like manner when writing letters, e-mails and text messaging?

Social skills - Is the content of your answers appropriate for an interview situation? Are you aware of proper table manners if your interview takes place over lunch hour or dinnertime? Can you demonstrate your ability to work with others in a team environment? Are you able to participate in a discussion at lunch or dinner that is relevant to everyone at the table? Are you able to interact with your peers (and other graduate students) as well as faculty members or chairs of the department?

Interests – What are your interests outside of the academic environment? Have you had a chance to travel or to learn about other cultures? How aware are you of global issues?

Review the following articles for more information on preparing for graduate school interviews:

Graduate School Interviews 

Sample Questions Asked During Academic Program Interviews 

The Admissions Interview Process – What You Need to Know 

What to Ask during a Graduate Admissions Interview

Need help practising for your interview?
Check out the Practice for your Interview section for great resources, workshops and tools.