University Interviews | MS Applicants
The prospect of a university interview often brings with itself a host of feelings like happiness, panic and anxiety all rolled into one. While it is quite natural to be nervous, getting an idea of what to expect can help you to crack the interview with flying colors. Remember that receiving an interview call means that the admission committee is impressed with your application so far, and you are close to securing an admit. University interviews can last from ten minutes to an hour. They also vary depending on the course you are applying for. Irrespective of the format of your interview, it should ideally be a two-way interaction, where you should not only respond to an interviewer’s questions but also contribute to the discussion.
What are interviewers looking for?
- Through the interview, the interviewer wants to know whether you are genuinely enthusiastic about your course. They wish to gauge your personality and discuss the aspects they could not glean from your application.
- The interviewer can ask you to expand on any claims you made in your personal statement which demonstrate your interest in the subject, any research or work experience to make sure your statement stands up to scrutiny.
- The interviewer will ask you about your reasons for wanting to study that particular course, so make sure of what the course involves and the various career options available. They will also assess your ability to communicate and deal with stress. They expect you to show some knowledge of the course and university as well as the capacity to present your ideas and arguments confidently.
- The interviewer looks for evidence that you are capable of thinking independently, are willing to adapt to new ideas beyond the scope of your college syllabus, and that you are committed to the program.
Common questions often asked in university interviews
- Revisit the university prospectus and course details, think about how you will answer questions such as ‘why this course?’ and ‘why this university?’
- Re-familiarize yourself with your personal statement and be prepared to elaborate on anything you have mentioned.
- Try to keep abreast with the latest issues in current affairs relevant to your subject because interviewers may bring it up for discussion.
- You may have to field tricky, and open-ended questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “How would your friends describe you?” To answer such a question, write down a list of your strengths and weakness and think of five words that sum up your personality.
- If they ask you to speak about your weaknesses, identify one, but always tell them what you are doing to tackle it. If you are asked about your strengths, list a few. Be honest, to the point and avoid being a braggart because they might ask you to validate your strengths with examples.
- Another favorite amongst interviewers is: “What do you do in your spare time?” While answering this question, tell them something interesting and meaningful.
- If you plan to defer your admit for one year, the interviewer may ask you what you intend to do during this period? Point out how your gap year will benefit. Mention a way in which the gap year will relate to your course and future academic studies like taking up jobs related to your course work.
- Another common question often asked is regarding your career aspiration. How will the university benefit your future? While answering this question, be honest and state your career plans, explain how a degree will help you to achieve your career goals and how you think the university will benefit you.
Prior Preparation to face University Interviews
- Research on your course and the University thoroughly. Ponder on what interests you about the course, and the reasons for choosing the program.
- Make sure you read your personal statement once again because the interviewer might ask you questions based on it. If you have mentioned about a reading a book in the personal statement but actually haven’t read it, then you must read it as a part of your preparation.
- A mock interview is a helpful practice. Having some interview practice beforehand will boost your confidence and expose the areas that you need to work on. Ask a career adviser to conduct your mock interviews. For extra practice, get a friend or your parents to ask you some difficult interview questions.
- Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer but make sure that they haven’t already been answered in the information sent to you by the University.
- Ensure that you have something suitable to wear. The university may have a dress code; if not, dress in something you feel comfortable in and will not distract the interviewer.
- If you are unaware about the interview format, feel free to email or phone the university to ask. If you know the name of the interviewer, do a little bit of internet research and see if you share any interests.
Pointers for the big day
- Body language is very significant and perhaps as important as what you say to create a good first impression. Sit straight, avoid slouching, make eye contact and look as well as sound interested. It is important that you engage with the interviewer in a positive manner.
- Listen carefully to the questions asked and do not hesitate to pause if you need some time to think through your answer or if you want the interviewer to repeat a particular question. Answering out of context will undoubtedly leave a bad impression.
There is no such thing as the perfect interview or the perfect reply to a question that an interviewer might throw at you. Be calm and view the interview as an opportunity to showcase your worthiness as an ideal candidate and discuss a subject that you and your interviewer share an interest in. Asking good questions will impress your interviewer just as much as good answers. Remember that the best way to prepare for an interview is to practice by way of mock interviews. While practicing, do not learn your answers by heart because that will make you sound over-rehearsed and robotic. Rather just be confident and use your presence of mind as these two will ensure that you have a smooth and successful university interview.