The Graduate School Interview Explained

So you’ve applied to graduate school and have been offered an interview. Congratulations! Now it’s time to get ready for the big day. This simple guide is designed to help you better understand the interview process and prepare yourself for success.

For most graduate programs, the admissions 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. The graduate school interview is, essentially, a high-stakes professional blind date.

Fortunately, being offered an interview puts the odds in your favor of being made an offer of acceptance. While the previous year’s acceptance rates may offer a general sense of how many students ‘get in’, 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 preparing to ace your interview. Let’s begin with three areas to focus on...

3 keys to a successful interview

Interesting Facts about Graduate School Acceptance Rates

Interview Checklist

  • Copy of Interview Day Agenda.
  • List of faculty members and their professional bios. Be familiar with their research and classes, and prepare some interesting questions to discuss with them.
  • Contact a current or former student about their experience.
  • Write a personal introduction (500 words).
  • Rehearse personal introduction.
  • Research twenty potential interview questions and prepare answers for each.
  • Ask three trusted friends and/or mentors to participate in a mock interview.
  • Select an outfit.
  • Purchase a set of professional thank you cards and locate the mailing addresses for the admissions department and faculty members.

    After the Interview:

    Hand-write personalized Thank You notes to each member of your interview committee. Mail the cards within 24 hours.

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