Acing the graduate professional school interview
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Acing the Graduate/Professional School Interview. Tutorial. CONGRATULATIONS!. You should applaud yourself for being invited to interview for a graduate school program! The admissions committee found your application impressive. Now you just need to wow them during your interview.

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Acing the graduate professional school interview

Acing the Graduate/Professional School Interview



  • You should applaud yourself for being invited to interview for a graduate school program!

  • The admissions committee found your application impressive. Now you just need to wow them during your interview.

This tutorial will
This tutorial will:

  • Provide an overview of the various components that make up the interview process

  • Provide interview strategies to ensure success

Purpose of the graduate school interview
Purpose of the Graduate School Interview

  • Faculty perspective

    • Narrow down the applicant pool

    • Decide who to admit into the program

  • Your perspective

    • Learn more about the program

    • Meet with the faculty

    • Determine if the program is a good fit for you

    • Decide if you want to attend the institution

Interview components
Interview Components

  • Similar to a job interview, a graduate school interview consists of three components:

    • Before the interview

    • During the interview

    • After the interview

Before the interview
Before the Interview

  • Always, always, always make sure you prepare for the interview.

  • Preparation involves knowing about:

    • Yourself

    • The career field, industry and available career options

    • The program

    • The institution

Know yourself
Know Yourself

  • Because graduate school is a big investment (time, money, etc.), it is essential that you choose the right program that matches your career goals.

  • Consider the following:

    • What attracted you to this field?

    • What attracted you to this particular program and school?

    • What are your professional goals?

    • How will going to graduate school help you reach your goals?

    • What experiences have you had that set you apart from other applicants?

    • What are you hoping to gain from advanced education?

Know the career field industry available career options
Know the Career Field, Industry & Available Career Options

  • Due to the fact that graduate and professional programs are very focused, it is essential that you demonstrate your knowledge regarding your chosen career field.

  • Some questions that you should be able to answer include:

    • What occupations can be pursued with this type of education?

    • What are the educational requirements?

    • In what professional associations are people involved?

    • Who are the key people in the field?

    • What are the current trends and issues facing the field?

    • What is the history of your field?

Know the program
Know the Program

  • Additionally, those interviewing you want to know that you are serious about their program. Therefore, you must demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the program in question.

  • Consider learning:

    • Who the faculty members are, their specialties and research interests.

    • Program requirements.

    • The type of students that the program attracts.

    • The distinguishing characteristics of this program.

Know the institution
Know the Institution

  • As you know from your time at McDaniel College, plenty of learning and activities take place outside of the classroom.

  • Since you can expect to spend a fair amount of time on campus, you may want to consider:

    • The facilities

    • The library

    • Student organizations

    • Support services

Before the interview1
Before the Interview

  • Preparing for a graduate school interview does not end with knowing about yourself, the program, etc.

  • Applicants invited to interview must make sure to dress professionally and to be prompt.

Interview appearance
Interview Appearance

  • Get a good night’s sleep

  • Wear wrinkle-free clothes

  • Wear little jewelry, perfume and makeup

  • Items to avoid include:

    • Loud colors

    • Low cut blouses

    • Short skirts

    • Clanging jewelry

    • Sandals/open-toed shoes

    • Character ties

Interview timing
Interview Timing

  • Know the exact time and location of the interview

  • Arrive 15 minutes early to freshen up hair and clothes

During the interview
During the Interview

  • The interview is the time and place to let yourself shine!

  • Here you want to expand on your academic interests, research experience and skills, professional goals and how this program ties into the big picture.

  • This is also the time when you can expect any questions that focus on weaker areas of your application. So, be prepared.

During the interview continued
During the Interview (continued)

  • The interview begins once you step into the outer office, so be nice to everyone you meet

  • Enter and greet the interviewer(s) with a smile, good eye contact and a firm handshake

  • Always refer to the interviewers by their name (ex. Mr. Brown)

During the interview continued1
During the Interview (continued)

  • Listen to questions carefully

  • Mention examples and results of your past work

  • Avoid using slang and expressions such as “uh,” “you know” and “like”

  • Speak in a clear tone—not to fast and not too slow

  • When it is your turn, ask questions. This shows responsibility and alertness

After the interview
After the Interview

  • Similar to job interviews, you will want to send a thank you to those that interviewed you and anyone that hosted you during your visit.

  • Follow up with the program coordinator to check the status of your application.

For more information
For More Information

  • Visit Career Services web page at:

  • Visit the Career Resource Library to review graduate catalogs, financial aid information, etc.

  • Attend a “Graduate School: To Go or Not To Go” workshop (check Career Services’ events schedule for dates and times of workshop).

Need more help
Need more help?

  • Stop by Smith House to speak with a career counselor

  • Call 410-871-3305 to schedule an appointment