Applying for graduate school can be quite a meticulous process, and you might find that participating in an interview is a part of it. Graduate school interviews can take on several formats, including one-on-one, panel and group. The prospect of interviewing alongside your competition in a graduate school group interview might seem daunting, but being prepared and knowing what to expect can help you feel more at ease.
Much like a job interview, prospective graduate students should prepare for graduate school group interviews. Doing so enables you to come across as a candidate who is serious about gaining acceptance into the program. Practice answering the questions that you and the other candidates will likely be asked. In addition, be prepared to have questions for those who are conducting the interview in the event that time is permitted for such a practice.
Tracey Wofford, director of graduate admissions for the Tift College of Education Graduate Education Programs for Mercer University, has advice for applicants who are apprehensive about the group interview process. She says that interviewers ask questions that focus on why applicants are seeking an advanced degree, why they believe the program will be a good fit for their goals and why applicants feel they will be a good fit for the program.
During group discussion interviews, once the interview panel members introduce themselves, applicants are given an opportunity to introduce themselves. According to Wofford, members will then ask questions to the group as a whole and each applicant is given two to three minutes to respond. Generally, panel members are watching for who answers first and who hangs back. Group interviews give faculty members an opportunity to gauge different types of students, their response time to questions and their analytical skills.
If you find yourself in a small-group activity interview, the group could be instructed to work collectively in reaching a goal or in solving a problem. To help yourself do well in this type of interview, try to demonstrate your leadership skills by taking the lead and developing an action plan. Be a willing team member if your plan is not selected. According to Wofford, faculty members are also trying to determine how applicants handle themselves in a group particularly with a cohort model where students will be in classes together for a few years.
- Tracey Wofford; Director of Graduate Admissions; Tift College of Education Graduate Education Programs, Mercer University
Based in Atlanta, Melissa Nicholas has been writing features articles since 1995. She was a features writer and columnist for “The Gainesville Times” newspaper and “The Island Packet” newspaper. During that time, she received Associated Press awards for features writing and for newspaper page design.