Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Quirky insights to science, art, studying abroad, & other miscellaneous happenings.

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Tips for Grad School Interviews

Here's what I've learned so far from interviewing at PA schools this year. Take it with a grain of salt, and interpret as you will. Have fun, and happy reading. :)

1. Don't be nervous. 

If you think that's not possible, because you're the type to stress out over everything and anything, let me tell you. You need to relax. Be normal, and be yourself. I think this is one of the most important factors to help you interview well! Nervousness can make even the most confident person stutter or mess up their words, and it won't be an accurate representation of who you are. It also shows that you are able to interact well under pressure. 

2. Don't think that this is your one and only option, that you're so desperate, that your universe will crash if you don't get in. 

Alright, you can feel that way inwardly, but don't let it show. No one likes super desperate people -- at least, not with grad schools. Rather, be confident in yourself, and let that maturity show. So when everyone else is sitting there tensely with stoic facial expressions -- I'm telling you, it's really obvious when you're nervous and/or desperate -- you can start conversation, break the ice (which is more like a glacier), crack some jokes, and get to meet new people. It's fun!

3. Don't over analyze or replay the interview over and over. And over. 

Someone told me that about 98% of people come out thinking they should've said this instead, or shouldn't have said something, or just honestly being overly critical. Yes, know what you could've done better, but for next time. The past is the past, and your interview is done. Done. 

4. Don't fall into the trap of sizing up the other applicants. 

I get it. It's natural. If someone's brought a parent with them, it's instinctual to have an opinion. Or seeing someone questionably dressed. But seriously? Be above that. Avoid topics (and people) who talk about their application, where they have been accepted, and also seem probing. You've all made it to this point. Use your time well and rather, take in the atmosphere. Constantly be thinking critically if you can see yourself thriving there, what reservations you have about the program, and if this is where you belong. 

5. Think positive. 

Yes, there's always the "what if". But you've come this far, invested time and finances. It's difficult to think all that energy and work wasted when you get a rejection. But when I interviewed at a place hundreds of miles away, I tried to think -- well, at least I can say I've traveled here on my own, saved myself some deposit money to reserve a seat, and got to see a beautiful place and meet others who may be my coworkers someday. It's a privilege and honor to make it as far as you have, and even though you may not have that acceptance just yet, don't lose hope. 

6. Learn. Use every moment there to absorb, so you can process it later if you have to make the decision between that school or another. 

Find out where students study. How well is the program set up? Are the students happy? Would you want to live there for 5, 10 years? What features of the program are different from others -- and is that beneficial or harmful for YOU?

7. Ask questions, but pay attention. 

Really find out about the school, so you're able to ask real, legit questions that will provide the most value to you. Don't be that person who always asks, Why should we attend your program? What makes it different from other schools? Seriously. Do some research, and you should already know this, so you can ask questions about it, rather than being clueless. 

8. No program is without its faults. 

You just need to know what is a priority to you, and what you're okay with. Are cadavers a priority? The length of each rotation? The pass rates for boards? The resources and size of the school? Tuition and living expenses? Although I wish that there was a perfect school for every one of us, there's not. Evaluate what's important to you, and do well to stick by it. 

9. Take the chance to get to know people. It'll make it fun and that much more interesting. 

By get to know, I don't mean asking about their "stats", or their background, or anything that could be interpreted as evaluating the competition. Care about them as a person; treat it like a mystery to unravel. You could be future classmates or coworkers!

10. Last, but not least, enjoy your time. 

Treat it as a new, interesting experience that is (sort-of) once-in-a-lifetime. Take advantage of all the new experiences you are presented with. 

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