You’ve dreamed about going to grad school for as long as you can remember. You put in the hard work during your high school and undergrad years. Your application, complete with glowing letters of recommendation, is finished and now you’ve been invited for an interview. Celebrate this achievement and don’t stress! Your hard work has paid off so far, and with a little preparation, you’ll be ready to showcase why you are worthy of an offer of admission.
As a former human resources executive for more than 25 years and a higher education professional for more than a decade (including close to four years as an admissions dean at Touro College of Pharmacy), I have learned what makes for a successful interview. Here are my top 10 tips to prepare for your professional-school interview day:
1. If your interview is in person, be on time and by that, I mean be at least 15 minutes early. First impressions count! If your interview is virtual, ensure your computer, microphone, and Wi-Fi are working properly. You may also want to consider setting an alarm to make sure you are ready to go right on time.
2. Be gracious and polite to everyone you meet. The day starts once you walk in the building—you never know who you are riding the elevator with or what impression you made on the security guard.
3. Keep that phone away! Make sure your phone is set to silent. You do not need any distractions.
4. Dress for success. Go in with your “A-game” outfit and “A-game” body language on!
5. Put a smile on even if you are not feeling it. It will become contagious to both you and those you meet.
6. Keep your eyes and ears open so you can see if this is where you can envision yourself.
7. Whether this school is your “safety” school or your number one choice, behave as if this is the highest stakes day of your life. It’s a smaller world than we think, and you never know when or where you may encounter the interviewer(s) again.
8. Know why you are here today. Have some original answers as to why you want to attend the school. Do your homework!
9. Address the elephant in the room—if you have a hiccup on your record, either academic or professional, have a clear answer ready, which must include ownership rather than playing the blame game.
10. Do not let the sun set until you have thanked everyone who made the effort to welcome you on your interview day. Be quick to express gratitude and slow to complain.