Post # 1
So I have an interview at my dream grad school tomorrow, for a program in environmental science/environmental education. I already am slightly acquainted with the professor who will be interviewing me, and have a feeling that she likes me. Also, from the tone of the emails I’ve exchanged with her and with the admissions people I think the interview is probably a formality, rather than being like a job interview where they really are using it to decide if they like you or not. I think the grad school faculty and admissions dept. already like me, but I still want to not F^$& it up, obviously!! This is so important and scary, but I’m trying to convince myself that they probably like me already so I don’t act weird tomorrow. . . interviews freak me out, but I’ve been having a lot of them lately (trying to get a summer job in my field, no luck so far, but I’m waiting to hear about 2 things). Any advice?
I’m wearing nice black pants, a silk blouse, a grey blazer, and some nice flat ankle boots (because it’s a school for the environmental sciences, and env. scientists are an extremely casual crowd, high heels would be laughable). Sound OK?
OK– I need to spend some time re-reading the school’s website, and then ironing my clothes and removing all the darn cat hair from the wool pants, but I’ll have my eye on this all evening. . . thanks 🙂
Post # 3
It’s funny you mentioned your shoes because that was going to be the first thing I was going to mention LOL. Academics judge shoes, it’s a career where there is a lot of walking, around campus etc., and shoes must be sensible. Thats not saying you can’t wear heels they just need to be sensible and not stilettos!! So I commend you on your shoe choice, and your whole outfit for that matter!
Really, for the interview just be yourself, I believe that academia is one of the most humbleing careers that exists. Yes, you become an expert on a very minute area of knowledge, but you also become hyper aware of how little you know about EVERYTHING else!!!! If you are yourself and have some interesting ideas about what you would like to study, within your potential supervisors area of interest, you’re good to go.
Post # 4
Honestly, I wouldnt stress out too much. Most profs are more than happy to have grad students.. it likely means more funding, papers and attention paid to their program (basically, they use us.) That being said, you could definitely brush up on her research and how anything you have done in the past might relate, current issues and papers in the field, etc. just to show off a little (I’m sure you’ve already done some of this though if you decided you want to work with her!). Just look professional, be confident and most of all enthusiastic about the subject!
General advice I know, but I really don’t think you have too much to worry about! 🙂
Post # 5
@Creiddylad: Your outfit sounds great.
I find that, with any interview, you really want to turn it more into a conversation, rather than them grilling you with questions. If you can build your responses into broader topics, and ask questions – it always makes you look more competent.
Also, I make a point in every interview, when the first question is “Tell me why you want to work here/ why you think you would be a good fit” to turn it around and make it about them. “Instead, why don’t you tell me a little more about the position and what (in your case) are the department’s strengths so that I can see where I’d best fit and tailor my answers.” That way you come off as a “team player” right away.
Post # 6
My number one tip is be prepared with questions! Everyone you speak to will ask if you if you have any questions. Being able to ask them about the program is not only informative for you, but it makes you look curious and invested rather than uninterested.
Your outfit also sounds great.
Good luck on your interview! It can be stressful but just be yourself and relax.
Post # 7
Definitely review the recent research of not only her, but other profs who you would be interested in working with. Be prepared to talk about your own interests and how they would intersect for their research. If you need “intelligent questions,” you could discuss placement — what sorts of jobs are people getting coming out of this program? What sort of job do you yourself envision having eventually?
Good luck — I’m sure you’ll do fine. Be pleasant, engaging, and an active listener. 🙂
Post # 8
The most important thing is to show your interest in the science done by the department — and by everyone you meet.
I just got my PhD and I saw a lot of interviews over the years, and the thing that makes scientists happiest is when people actually seem interested in our research, because most of our families and friends don’t want to know the details!
You sound quite nice, so I’m sure you don’t need this advice, but please remember to be nice and polite to everyone, not just the professors. If you have a chance to talk with grad students or lab technicians, don’t treat them rudely. At my grad school, we had a guy come to interview who had good grades and was charming to the professors, but he treated everyone else like they were idiots. “You work on THAT? Oh. I’m more interested in…” does not leave a good impression. He did not get a position!