A few weeks ago, I found out that I was accepted to a graduate school. You have no idea how excited I am to start this fall. I will be getting my Master's in Counseling Psychology first, and then continuing my education to receive my doctorate. I am not really excited that it will be a long process, but it will all be worth it at the end.
Since I have been through grad school interviews, and I was successful at them, I wanted to write a post with a few tips for those of you who will be going through this process in the future. It is such a nerve racking experience. On the day of my first interview, I was very nervous. I remember feeling sick to my stomach while pulling up to the school. I managed to pull myself together because I knew that I was ready for the interview. After the interview, I felt so accomplished and proud of myself. Anyone can do great at these interviews, trust me!
1) Preparation is very important!
This is the number one thing that you should do before any interview. For a graduate school interview, find out what kind of interview you will have. Is it going to be in a group, individual, or both? I think it is important to know and prepare yourself for the idea that you could possibly be in a group setting. In that case, you could practice answering questions with your friends or family members. I also googled a list of possible psychology graduate school questions. There were around a hundred of those, and everyday, I would answer a few of them to make sure that I was ready. You should also do research on your school. Check their website because the most important information about financial aid, course work, or research that has been done should be available for you. If you show that you have extensive knowledge of the school, your interviewer will definitely be impressed. Preparation is the key! Take a good amount of time to prepare. BTW, a good amount of time is not a day before the interview haha.
2) Dress appropriately.
I think this one is straightforward, but some people think it's okay to wear jeans, or a t-shirt, or anything else that is too casual for an interview. Nope! You have to look professional, and the only clothes that will help you with that are business casual. A nice pencil skirt or black pants, a blouse, and a blazer are some of the main pieces to wear.
3) Always act in a professional manner.
At my interviews, I had a lot of time to chat with faculty and current students. Even if a current student is being very simple and casual, do not let yourself do the same. They are already accepted to that school, and they are there to interview you, too. Many current students are asked for their suggestions of who would be a great fit for that school, so keep that in mind. I am not telling you to act super professional with them. That would be a little awkward. Be friendly and nice, but don't tell your life story just yet if you feel very comfortable around that person. You are there not to make friends, but to make a good impression on those who will make a decision on your acceptance.
4) Control your nerves and be confident in yourself.
This is probably the hardest thing to do, but you have to try. A good way to increase your confidence and control your nerves that actually does work is a "Power Pose". Research shows that our body language is one of the most important ways that can help us with our self esteem. An example of a "Power Pose" is the Wonder Woman Pose where you simply stand tall and put your hands on your hips. Yes, it sounds silly that this can actually help boost your confidence, but it works! Try practicing this pose for two minutes every day. It would be more helpful if you start doing it sometime before the day of your interview. During the big day, go to a quiet place, maybe even a bathroom, and do the pose. While standing in it, remind yourself how hard you worked to get where you are in your life right now. Remind yourself how much preparation you did for this interview. You are ready, and you will succeed!
5) Don't be afraid to ask questions. You are interviewing them also.
Prepare your questions ahead of time, and make sure that answers to those questions are not on the school's website. If the answers are there, don't ask them, because the interviewer may think that you are unprepared. It is good to think of the interview as a two way street. You are being interviewed to see if you qualify, but you are there to also interview the school to see if it can meet your expectations.
6) Don't compare yourself to other candidates.
You will probably see a lot of other candidates on the day of your interview. Some of them will sound so smart when they are talking to you, but keep your negative talk out of your head. You are as qualified as any other candidate. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gotten the invitation in the first place. Don't waste your time and thoughts on other candidates. All you need to worry about is making a great impression on any faculty member, current student, and - most importantly - the interviewer.
8) Just breathe.
Take deep breaths whenever you feel super overwhelmed. Deep breathing will help you relax quickly, and keep your mind and body at peace. When you feel stressed, your muscles become tight, and deep breathing is a great way to release that tension.
I really hope you find these tips helpful, and good luck on your upcoming interviews. YOU CAN DO IT! :)