Once you have applied to the graduate program of your choice, it’s time to hurry up…and wait! Why? Because graduate programs have so many applicants, it takes time to go through all of those applications in order to find the best of the best. If you are lucky enough to make it through this first selection process, you get a chance to shine in an interview! For some, this could be an extremely daunting task (especially if you are shy or more reserved). For others, this is where they really excel! No matter which category you fall into, there are things you can do in order to do well in your interview! In this post, I am going to share a few of the best things that I learned from my two physical therapy graduate program interviews!
So, you just found out that you have been selected for an interview at one of your graduate programs! Yay! At first, you were extremely excited, then you started feeling a little nervous! Don’t worry, that’s totally normal! However, in order to push that nervousness aside, you need to start preparing! If you are prepared, you will be able to ignore those butterflies in your stomach much more easily!
Before you start practicing, I want you to try to find out as much about that program’s interview process as possible. If you know someone who is in the program now, don’t hesitate to ask them about their own interview! You may be able to ask a professor who is familiar with how that program operates if you don’t know someone in the program. If you still aren’t having any luck, try looking online! Unfortunately, you may just have to go in prepared for anything! If you do find something out, I want you to tailor your practicing with how the program’s interview is set up! This will help you feel more comfortable on the interview day!
2. Practice Practice Practice
This is the most important part! In order to start really practicing, I would suggest that you look online for possible interview questions for your program. I searched physical therapy interview questions and was actually able to find quite a few that helped me! If you are applying to a medical-based program and can’t find any possible questions, feel free to use generic medical school interview practice questions! Many of the more general questions will still work for your program interview.
Once you’ve found possible interview questions, work through your own answers out loud! This will help you practice your interview voice so that you aren’t too soft spoken and don’t speak too quickly. After you’ve gone through the questions on your own a few times, I want you to have a mock interview with a friend asking you these possible interview questions! This will help you have answers ready so you don’t get blindsided! Plus, friends are great confidence boosters and can even help you come up with even better answers! If your friends think of other possible interview questions that aren’t on the list, go with it! It never hurts to have more practice!
3. Familiarize yourself
This is an important part of the interview practicing process that is often forgotten! Just like you are trying to get into the best program for you, each school is looking for the best students for their program. They want to know why you’ve chosen to apply to their program. They want to see if you would pick their program over others. You can’t just say because it’s closest to home! Instead, take some time to get familiar with that program. Look online, talk to students who go there, talk to professionals who completed their degree there, and more. Let them know that you’ve thought about this decision and want to make the best one for you. If they ask you something along the line of “Why do you want to go to our school?” make sure that you have a solid answer ready. Also, get familiar with the professors. Look online to at least learn some of their names and faces. You may even be able to see their specialty and position on the faculty page! All of these are little things that, when put together, can really help you shine in your interview!
4. Dress professionally
Next, I want you to get familiar with what the program’s recommended interview attire is. Should you wear dress slacks? A dress? A blazer? Take the time and spend the money to go out and buy something new! Make sure that you pick something that fits the recommended attire, makes you feel confident, and is still comfortable! You have too many things to think about without having to worry about your clothes! Keep your makeup and clothes professional, don’t use too much perfume, and make sure that your nails are trimmed! When choosing what shoes to wear, keep in mind that you might have to walk up and down stairs in the building and that you may even do a program tour!
5. Show up early
Trust me, this is important for your own sanity! For my interview, I arrived at least 45 minutes early! This gave me extra drive time in case there was traffic, time to find a parking, and even time to practice through a few more interview questions in my car! This extra time will also help calm your nerves and boost your confidence before walking into your interview building!
Once you enter the interview building, you may be thrown into a room with a bunch of the other applicants! This actually happened at both of my interviews. At the first one, I was extremely nervous and didn’t really talk to that many people. At my second interview, however, I went out of my way to meet the other applicants and ask them questions about where they were from and which programs they applied to. Honestly, this really helped me get more comfortable and feel less stressed once I got to my actual interview! So, if this happens to you, don’t be afraid to talk with the other applicants! Remember, you’re all in this together!
I hope these tips help you throughout your own graduate school interviews like they did me! No matter where you are applying, I want to wish you the best of luck! I know you can do this! If you have any more graduate school questions, be sure to sign up for the graduate school Q and A bonus below!
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