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Last Updated: July 03, 2021

The Graduate School Interview Explained

Candidates who applied extensively to colleges and received their interview call will have to face the final step of the interview in order to procure their admission. Candidates often assume that the application process along with procuring the right kind of funding is the toughest part of the process. Because of this, they are often prone to being clueless about what to do once they have received their interview call.

For most graduate programs, the admission process includes a personal interview. Students who are invited for an interview schedule a time to visit the campus for a tour of the facilities and a face-to-face personal meeting with members of the faculty, student body, and admissions department.

Fortunately, being offered an interview puts the odds in favor of the candidate by being made an offer of acceptance. While the previous year’s acceptance rates may offer a general sense of how many students get admission, it’s generally safe to assume that applicants who attend an interview have a 50/50 chance of receiving an offer- much better odds than the often single-digit percentages of applicants offered an interview in the first place.

Even though receiving an offer for an interview is a critical step and a good indicator of potential success, it is still important to invest the appropriate time and energy in preparing to ace the interview.

Types of Interviews

The type of interview opted by colleges/universities will change from institution to institution. The most common types of interviews are practical tests, providing pre-interview tasks, doing a presentation, informal interview, Skype interview, and a formal interview.

Key Elements for a Successful Interview

The preparation for interviews can be done by adopting different means and can differ from person to person. While some candidates will require changes in the way they carry themselves, others might choose to brush up their academic knowledge as a means of preparing for the interview. These methods are all dependent upon the character of the candidate and how they want to appear during the interview.

Essentially, the few tips that candidates can adhere to before the interview are-


Candidates are often at a loss when it comes to preparing for interviews. While preparing for an examination can be done through prep books and online classes, if need be, there are very limited ways in which people can successfully prepare for interviews without giving themselves anxiety. Preparation can include having conversations about the interview, researching the questions that have been previously asked, enquiring more about the college/university, and even paying attention to one’s own personality traits that can come across unfavorably in the interview.

In order to help the preparation, candidates can-

Practicing Responses

Every college and university will have a generic set of questions that they ask every candidate that has ever been interviewed in their setting. Talking to alumni will be of great help in figuring out what these questions are. Even if candidates could not find the specific questions that different panels ask, it is quite easy to prepare the answers to the most probable questions.

While preparing answers to each question, candidates must make a note of understanding the context of the question rather than learning it word by word since the structure of the question can change. Some of the common questions that candidates encounter during interviews are-

Presenting Oneself Professionally

The way a candidate carries themselves into the interview room and the posture they keep throughout the interview will all speak a lot about their character. It is important that the candidate stands tall, holds their chin up, their shoulders back and their eyes focused at all times. This doesn’t imply that the candidate has to be on guard at all times but they can definitely train themselves before the interview into appearing confident. Projecting confidence, competence, and warmth are all points that can act in the candidate’s favor.

It is important that candidates wear clean and presentable clothing for the interview. Though there will be no strict dress code and there is a high probability that the interview panel will be casually dressed, the candidate is expected to be dressed for the occasion. Professional attire - a suit and jacket is appropriate for both men and women. This is to be considered for interviews taken in-person and through Skype.

Polishing Communication Skills

Projecting confidence, competence, and warmth during the interview is important. Speaking with clarity and avoiding vocal crutches such as "um", or "like" are important characteristics of a good interview.

Things to Bring to the Interview

Though it is not recommended that the candidate carry a lot of things for the interview, they will be able to carry a few things that can project their personality and increase their chance of being accepted at the college/university.

Interview Checklist During Preparation

While preparing for the interview candidates can keep a checklist for the things they have to collect and do in order to be fully prepared before the interview day. While it might seem impossible for candidates to do all of it before the interview, it is still advised that candidates follow most of it so they can excel and not falter.

Interesting Facts about Graduate School Acceptance Rates

After the Interview

The method of contacting candidates who have been accepted differs from institution to institution. While some colleges and universities might inform the students of their decision right after their interview, some others contact candidates through phone, email, or letter.

Getting in...

Advanced Placement

Letter of Intent


Money matters

Where to Study?