For the lucky grad school applicants to have survived the first cut, interview season is about to move into full swing. If you’ve received an offer to visit, take these three tips to heart as you prepare for the interview.
1. Do your homework before arriving.
Get a strong sense of how the program is structured and where its expertise lays. Study the faculty and their research interests, particularly those who interview you. You’ll be expected to demonstrate why that program is a good fit for your interests. Put it this way: About the worst question you can ask a faculty member who interviews you is, “So, tell me about your research.”
2. Be authentic and professional.
The purpose of the interview is to evaluate your fit within the program. And that evaluation works in both directions. Recognize that everybody who is interviewing you has their BS detectors set at maximal sensitivity. The evaluation continues through every function on the schedule, from the time you meet the first representative of the program, until you leave. Be yourself, and your credentials and accomplishments will stand out, too.
3. Don’t burn any bridges.
No matter what happens next, you’ve just gone through a great networking event, meeting many people who might one day become influential in your career. Go home and send off some real thank you cards, the types made out of paper and that need stamps. If you’re asked for follow-up information, or even get an offer of admission but remain undecided or even plan to decline, respond promptly. Avoid cat and mouse games.