Having crafted your essays, nailed the admission tests, tightened your resume, and cajoled your leadership and professors for a letter of recommendation, everything is set to for the last step: interviewing for your dream program.
The admission committee will extend you an invitation for an interview. This can typically be done either in-person or via skype. While it is not merely a formality, the purpose of the interview is for the committee to meet you, get to know you better and be convinced that you deserve a spot in their class.
• The Weeks Leading Up To Your Interview: Keep up with your morning news routine, and read through your application until you know it inside and out. The interviewer will refer to specifics from your application, and the quickest and easiest way to blow your shot (besides being late to your interview!) is to appear unfamiliar with – or worse yet, to actually contradict – your application.
• The Day Before: Do a last-minute read of the news sites and blogs (especially those pertaining to your industry/interests) to make sure nothing big breaks without you knowing. And plenty of sleep the night before
• Keep your overall look clean and professional. Suit color and style should be simple and classy; avoid the colorful, vibrant palette instead opt for neutral, subtle tones. Don’t wear a blazer with shorts underneath even if it’s a skype interview.
• Relax and be yourself. This is one of the most important keys to preparation. Be honest with yourself and your interviewer. Lying about any aspect of your experience is an impending disaster – and it’s just wrong. If you have to lie to get in, you don’t deserve to be accepted.
• Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. Think about what might concern him or her about your application and practice addressing those issues. Think about how you would explain any cultural differences that might confuse your interviewer (e.g. types of undergraduate degrees, company details).
• Have several good questions prepared to ask your interviewer, although you’ll most likely be left with time for only one (if that).
• Be able to explain why you are passionate about your topic (both in the present and the past) and how the school will help you to achieve your future goals.
• Your interviewer will likely be glancing at his or her watch constantly to keep track of time. This can be extremely disconcerting, so be prepared!
• Don’t let it throw you for a loop if your interviewer is furiously scribbling on his or her notepad the entire 30 minutes. Many interviewers will be more focused on taking notes than on carrying on a so-called “conversation.” That’s OK, even to be expected.
• Some interviewers won’t ever interrupt you with a follow-up question or even with a new question. Rather, they’ll let you keep talking until the cows come home, so know when to shut up! Just answer the question, then stop talking and allow your interviewer room to ask another.
• On the other hand, some interviewers will pepper you with questions and frequently cut you off. Try to avoid becoming frustrated with the rapid fire nature and just roll with the punches.
• Practice, practice, practice!!! (And do it before your interview.) Practice in front of the mirror, in the shower, and with your friends and family.
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