ASGS#8: Interview for graduate school

Hello everyone!

You will see that some aspect might be repetitive to the interview post from the job series but almost everything applies to it. I will include maybe some aspect that were not cover. The attire for the interview will be business or business formal. Listen to music that you like and try to stay positive trough the process. You will receive a list of the people who you will interview with, review their research profile in order to have more understanding of their research topic. For some schools once you reach the interview it almost mean that you are accepted unless you blow the interview. For others it only mean that they want to know you but they can interview 80 for 30 or less spot and only will select the ones that score higher during the interview and application process.You will have around 3 to 6 interview of 30 min each, some schools will give you break between them others might not.

What I had learned trough my experience:


#1 Always ask questions during the interview (make sure those questions are not of an easy access in their webpage

#2 If they don’t tell you about their research ask them about it, that will consume some of the time

#3 Review all of your research experience and make sure you can speak about them with no problem, read a little more about it because they might ask questions to see how far is your understanding of the topic

#4 They might ask you really stupid questions to see how you react to it

#5 Be nice to everyone you don’t know how much influence they have in the decision

#6 There is a lot of alcohol, so please know your limit if you are going to drink

#7 Never bring your phone (leave it at the hotel) even that you have it on silence, it can distract you

#8 Some schools will give a refund for what you spend in transportation which mean that you pay and kept your recipes of the airplane, taxi, train, etc. send them by email and all applicants will receive their money back when the university make a decision. Others schools will pay for everything.

#9 If you can’t pay or have another interview ask if you can do the interview over the phone or Skype or re-schedule for another day

#10 Always thanks them for taking the time to interview and also send them an email no more than 48hrs later to thank them and mention things that you guys discuss during the interview so he/she can remember who you are

Now that I covered my experience these are some general rules that you should know for in person interview:

  • Always arrived early maybe 15 min earlier or at least on time
  • Always bring your resume
  • Review what you put in the application beforehand
  • Be presentable and clean (look at previous post for attire suggestion)
  • LISTEN (always listen carefully the question that it has being ask to you)
  • Have a good hand shake
  • SMILE (maybe put a note in your folder to remember that this is important)
  • Always ask questions
  • Look the other person in the eye (if that intimidate you look to the forehead of the other person he/she might thing that you are looking in the eye but you aren’t)
  • Don’t play with your hands jewelry or hair

Rules for phone interview (this apply for international student and student living in any of the US territory)

1-Always be on time and call at the time that they told you or be able to receive the call within that time (go to the bathroom first, that interview can take an hour)

2-Have your resume, application and notes with you that will be your savior when you get nervous. Also, you can write some question beforehand that you can refer back to.

3-Reduce background noise (choose a room that will be quite but that have enough stuff to not generate an echo sound)

4-LISTEN (always listen carefully the question that it has being ask to you)

5-SMILE (you might think that is stupid because no one is watching but when you are smiling that will convey that you are a good person to work with) See, that I said smile not laughing because that might give the impression that you are not serious enough.

Rules for Skype interview (this apply for international student and student living in any of the US territory)

You need to follow all the rules for phone interview but I will also make sure that the background is clean not full of stuff that will distract the other person or the group that is interviewing you. Make sure that is a place with good lighting and remember that you have to dress for the interview at least your top part.

Most common interview questions:

1-Tell me about yourself…

2-Why this university/place?

3-What do you know about this place?

4-Why do you want to do research with that particular person?

5-What you bring to this position?

6-What is your greatest weakness and strength?

7-Tell me about a time that you were in a group and a problem arise, how you resolve it

8-Tell me a time where you had to go an extra mile to do an assignment or improve yourself

9-Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

10- How did you become interested in your field of study?

11-What is the most recent thing that you have read?

12-What would you do if you had no obligations and no financial constraints?

13-Tell me a time where you show leadership skill or initiative

14-Walk me through your resume

15-Which of your qualifications make you think you would be successful here?

How you should answer these tell me a time kind of questions?Use also the star method for the weakness question.

There is something that is called star method

S ituation (what problem did you had?)

T ask (what was the assignment?)

A ction (What measurements you took to solve the problem?)

R esults (What results did you obtain?)

Continue being inspired and inspiring others


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