Five Tips on Preparing for the Graduate Admission Interview

Lamas, Janet squareHere at Adler University in Chicago, prospective students have been on the phone and exchanging emails with our Admissions counselors about their applications and Interview Days.

What is Interview Day? It’s a day that prospective students visit campus to meet with current students, Financial Aid staff, and other faculty and staff to get questions answered. Each applicant also takes part in an hour-long interview with a Core Faculty member in the academic program for which he or she is applying.

How do you prepare for the interview? We spoke with Janet Lamas, Senior Admissions Counselor in Chicago, who offers these five tips:

1. Treat the admission interview like a job interview.

“Once you start graduate school, training to become a practitioner in your chosen field is your job for the next several years,” Lamas says. “To get the job, it’s important you make a positive, professional impression.”

This includes wearing professional workplace attire. Arrive on time—don’t arrive late or too early.  It also means being prepared to speak and ask educated questions. Be sure to review the Adler University web site, Admission materials and other information you have received.

2. Know the program to which you are applying.

“When a faculty member is interviewing with you, be able to articulate and ask questions about the specific program you are interested in,” Lamas says. “Talking about our Ph.D. program in clinical psychology, for example, suggests that you aren’t serious about attending or haven’t done your homework to know that Adler University offers a Psy.D. program, not a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.”

Once again, is a good source for information on specific programs and offerings.

3. Do your homework–on you.

Besides being prepared to talk about your program of interest, it’s important to talk about yourself.

“Have an understanding of yourself. Be ready to articulate how you came to this place in your life, and why graduate school is the next step for you,” Lamas says. “Why do you want to go into advocacy or public policy, or become a counselor or a psychologist? Why do you want to receive that training at Adler University?”

4. Listen.

Interview Day is your opportunity to learn a great deal: about your potential program of study and faculty in the program, about the University’s culture and student resources, about financial aid and final steps toward possible admission.

“Listen to everyone with whom you interact. Your Interview Day is carefully scheduled because it’s a busy day, so it’s important to listen and take in information at every step,” Lamas says.

5. Interview us.

At first glance, many schools offer what seem like very similar academic programs. However, programs—as well as campus environments, student life, professional support, training opportunities, practicum offerings and much more—vary greatly from school to school.

At Adler University, those who have completed the admission process call Interview Day “more like a conversation,” and with good reason: The point is to get to know the school and for the school to get to know you, to determine whether there’s a good match.

Ask questions of all the faculty, students and staff you meet.  “Make sure that you take that time to make sure that the school is a good fit,” Lamas says. “You will invest a lot of time and money in graduate school, and you want to find a place that will fit your needs and career goals.”

A tip from other students: Relax and be yourself.

A prospective Adler University student preparing for her Interview Day posted on Facebook, asking for advice from those who have gone through it. Among the responses she received:

“My best advice is to be prepared to talk about your background and why Adler’s mission of social justice and community psychology fits in with your academic and professional goals. So it’d be a good idea to read through the faculty profiles, read the magazines, etc. My interviewers were extremely nice and everything was very relaxed. We even had a couple laughs. In fact, it was more like a regular conversation.”

If you are preparing to interview, what questions do you have? If you have already interviewed, what additional advice would you offer?