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 Graduate School Interview Tips
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Posted on 01-29-10 12:40 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Dear smart sajha users,


I am going to face 6 graduate school interviews (Program in Biology) between Feb and Mar. This is my first time for an academic interview and I am not a good communicator so I am little anxious about it.


Can you guys give me some tips and Dos and Don't for the interview. I have good academic records but I guess I am not so persuasive. Is it gonna hurt me badly and shadow my academic records and scores? Guys who have already faced the interviews, can you please take a few seconds to reply? I am also visiting 2 ivy league schools,does anyone know if I have to prepare something extra for highly competitive schools? Is it a good idea to make a note of the research questions to the faculty and use it during the interview? (since there will may 8/9 or more professors interviewing in some of the schools)


I would appreciate any suggestions.


 


 
Posted on 01-29-10 12:54 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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This should help
Click Here
Last edited: 29-Jan-10 12:55 PM

 
Posted on 01-29-10 1:00 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Thanks but I had that idea in mind too...I wanna hear from real people who have been in that situation or who know someone who have...The experience may be different for international students than the information found by googling it...


thanks tho


 
Posted on 01-29-10 5:27 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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No need to panic. Grad school interviews are almost formalities (I'm talking about Biology programs). If you have been invited, they want you, or else they won't pay for flight and hotel expenses and treat you like son-in-law. Having said that, it's absolutely essential that you know what your application essay or resume contained in terms of your research experience. Some professors can be tricky and some might ask you a lot of questions because they are interested in what you did. Be proactive. Learn about that professor ahead of the meeting, get a sense of his/her work and ask questions. Honesty is the best policy; if you have no familiarity with his/her line of work, politely ask him/her about it, and on the other hand, if you have some background, be prepared to ask related questions or provide input. Almost all the schools will have a student host assigned for you. Express your interest in attending that school to your host. Student input counts in grad school admissions. One purpose of these interview/recruitment weekends is to weed out troublesome/socially inept students. Act normal and show interest, you will be fine. Let me know if you have more/specific questions.
 
Posted on 01-29-10 6:11 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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@funkybuddha917..Is it true that they interview 2-3 times more students than they are actually planning to take that year?(Just so that if their top candidates deny acceptance they have other applicants to fill the place)

Also, it would be good to hear from interviewee who got accepted and/or rejected from different schools.




















 
Posted on 01-29-10 6:36 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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@amnesiac74: Absolutely. All the top schools in Biology typically invite about 3 times the class size and will accept roughly 2 times (or a little more). Top candidates are always split among these schools (Berkeley, UCSF, Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Rockefeller share a lot of applicants) and get about 50% to come from those accepted. 
 
Posted on 01-30-10 6:14 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I second funkybuddha917's comments. They are fairly a good summary. 

The majority of top grad school interviews, for any program, is the last filter in the application process before the University makes a decision on suitable candidates. If you have made it this far then your academic credentials and background are not in question - now it's all about your verbal communication skills and how you use them to your advantage. This is really the time to showcase your people skills. A few general pointers may help: 

1) Ensure that you convey a lot of positive enthusiasm/vibe for their program

2) Articulate the phrases in your sentences well.  And being a good listener helps in this regard.  

3) Be honest - if a technical question about your research comes up answer them truthfully, and the ones you are not sure about tell them that you will get back to them at a later point.

4) Come prepared. Do some research on the professors who may be interviewing you. If their research excites you then let them know about it. The more a professor knows about your interest and possible future collaboration on future projects the better. 

5) Treat this as any other interview and wear a business suit. How you present yourself is as important as what you say.

The best interviewees are the ones who can synthesize complex questions into simple answers in a calm and neutral expression. There is also an interview technique called PFI that some schools may use. I use this technique at work to interview new graduates. Performance Factor Interview is an interview technique used to ensure that all answers given by the interviewee are truthful. And it is easy to catch if they are lying. For example, if I ask you a behavioral question and you give me an answer I will in turn formulate a question from your answer. This continues until I am satisfied with the depth and details of your answer. For someone who is an expert in their field they would be able to weed out the liars quite easily. This is more common in corporate environment than academics however. Good luck.

-JB

Last edited: 30-Jan-10 06:15 AM

 
Posted on 01-30-10 12:59 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Thanks funkybuddha and Javabeans


Is it a good idea to make notes?


 
Posted on 02-01-10 12:44 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Posted on 02-01-10 12:34 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Hi all graduate applicants,


This would be a good thread to discuss/share:

#1 Graduate school applied/Program of choice
#2 Interview invitation received
#3 Admission offered
#4 Your top choices

 
Posted on 02-01-10 2:40 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I agree with most tips above except wearing a business suit to your interview. First of all, no one wears a business suit to a graduate school interview. If you know you will be able to handle it well, do it, but know that no one else might be wearing a business suit. I interviewed at 6 schools, 4 of them in the top 10, and no one wore a suit. I also got to meet interviewees in other biomedical science programs in those schools, and I did not see a single interviewee wear a suit.

The program I am in ranks top 10 in the USNews and World Report ranking and we typically interview twice as many students as we offer acceptance to. About 60% of those offered choose to come here. Also, based on my experience going on interviews and being involved in student recruitment in my department for the past 3 years, I can attest to you that ranking in the US News and World Report doesn't relate proportionally to competitiveness of admission. A program ranked 9th may be significantly more competitive than a program ranked 5th. Many factors, including location and reputation for graduate training affect competitiveness. So, I'd suggest paying close attention to whether you might be a good fit and whether the program seems to do well at training graduate students. Some top-ranked schools have shitty reputation for graduate student training and you may have a hard time if you decide to go there. So, an important thing to try to get a sense of during your interviews is whether the graduate students seem happy. If you have any particular faculty in mind, try to find out whether the person has a good track record of training students. Some faculty do top-notch research but are a-holes when it comes to dealing with people in their lab. Remember, you are 'interviewing' the school, the faculty, and the program as much as they are interviewing you, so spend some time and effort getting a sense of what it is going to be like being a student there. As much as it may sound tempting, I do NOT recommend going to any
program solely based on US news ranking (or any other ranking for that
matter).

Good luck!





 
Posted on 02-02-10 9:26 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Thank you Launa ni.


I have heard similar things from other sources and I was of course not going to wear a suit :D


Like u said, I am not going to accept a college based on the UsNews ranking....but do you think the current graduate students will let me know if the advisor is an a-hole...is there any other way to find out ??


 
Posted on 02-07-10 12:23 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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ok 1 down


it was very low key and nothing stressful like anticipated....but the other schools I am visiting are very competitive so I can expect it to be harder..


thanks to the guys for suggestions


feel free to discuss your experiences here :D


 


 
Posted on 02-24-10 10:02 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I think the point with the business suit is that it is better to play it safe. If you are 100% sure that the interview does not require one then there is no need for it. But I would definitely wear one if you are unsure.


Think about it this way - if the judging panel did not expect you to dress up but you did it anyway then no big deal, but if they did and you are on your flannels and jeans then your experience is going to be quite uncomfortable.


No matter how nerdy you are, having a bit of fashion sense in interviews gives an automatic outward aromatic presence - very critical in business graduate school interviews, perhaps not so much for the arts and sciences.


 


 
Posted on 02-24-10 10:16 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I applied to 4 graduate programs.
As of today, I have received "we are sorry" notice from one school- this school does not interview the applicants. (Does anybody know how that works?)
I am eagerly waiting to hear form the rest 3. How long before the actual interview date do they inform you?

 


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