Friday, July 3, 2015

Terrified About Your Grad School Interview? Don’t Be

By Deliece Knights
Student Ambassador, Baruch College

Grad school interviews are, without a doubt, terrifying. Anxiety and a perpetual feeling of impending doom cloud your mind and seem almost impossible to shake. Why wouldn’t they be terrifying? You’ve spent your entire life planning your future to get to this point. You’ve painstakingly prepared for the GMAT/GRE/TOEFL, and jumped a chocolate box assortment’s worth of other seemingly impassable hurdles. You’ve deliberated, crafted, edited, re-edited and then further re-edited your essays to demonstrate the perfect you, but alas, you find yourself confronted by one more hurdle… an interview.

As daunting as it may seem, there are many ways to prepare and build the confidence you need to have a great grad school interview. Here are three of the most important ones.

1. Change the Negatives to Positives

The first and perhaps most important factor in being prepared is to change your mindset about the interview. You may tend to view your interview as a bad thing. You could be asking yourself questions like, Was there something weird in my essay? Do I have a mediocre application? STOP. Being chosen for an interview is a good thing. It means they liked you! Consider this:

  • The school may be considering your application for a potential scholarship.
  • There may be something interesting from your application that the school would like to know more about.
In addition, you should also view your interview in a positive light because it is a golden opportunity to sell yourself as an applicant. Rather than stressing, look at your interview as a chance to:
  • Describe important moments and achievements in your life that you may not have been able to include in your application
  • Demonstrate in a face-to-face forum why you should be admitted
  • Network with a representative from the school who can champion your application.
Once you begin to change your outlook on the interview, your preparedness level will increase.

2. Research, Research, Research

It is expected that you would have done a considerable amount of research on a school before sending in your application. Why else would you have applied? It can be helpful, however, to do additional research about a school’s interview process.

There are many sites and videos online dedicated to helping prospective students find out about different schools and their interview processes. Your research can reveal the following:

  • Interview format (group versus one on one)
  • Interviewer types (alumni, deans, consultants)
  • School-specific interview questions 
  • General interview questions
Once you have an idea of how interviews are typically done by the school, your anxiety should be greatly reduced. Now you can picture yourself during the interview and better prepare.

3. Practice Makes Perfect, So Know Your Stuff

Once you have an idea of what questions you may be asked, spend time crafting your responses. There is nothing wrong with assembling a group of key stories and moments from your career (academic and professional) that can be used to demonstrate your ability in a graduate capacity. Go over the questions and see which of your life experiences can be used as examples about your capabilities. Knowing your material and how you will respond is preparedness itself.

In addition, if English is not your first language, then practicing your responses and how you will phrase them makes a world of difference. That way, you can focus less on what you’re trying to say and more on connecting with the interviewer.
Deliece Knights, 24, will matriculate at Baruch College in New York City in August. There she will pursue an MBA in organizational behavior/human resource management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French with a minor in human resource management. Deliece enjoys traveling and has experience working as a professional dancer. She is from Trinidad and Tobago.

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