There are a lot of things I can do without in life. Among them are deaths, standardized exams, washing dishes, Pap smears and interviews. Interviews for jobs are unavoidable for most of us. Interviews for graduate school are not done by all schools, but in the Speech Language Pathology programs it tends to be an important piece to the puzzle. Since appearance (how you present yourself), articulation (how clearly you produce words), language (how you express yourself) and professionalism is very important in this field, most schools want a chance to see the whole person. This spring I’ve gotten the chance to attend an Interview Day with one school, and a phone interview with another (which can be accommodated in cases where you can’t visit the school because of a conflict.) As nerve wrecking as it is, I’d rather interview live with someone because it’s another opportunity to sell yourself! If the school is in your Top 3, I would suggest making every effort to visit if invited to interview. The phone interview might put you at a disadvantage, being that you don’t get to make a first impression in the physical sense but if it’s the only other alternative then definitely take it. Below are a few Pro’s and Con’s to each interview.
- You don’t have to dress up, or even leave the house for that matter.
- You get to make a whole bunch of little cheat-sheets to keep in front of you.
- It’s convenient, and may be less stressful.
- Depending on the interviewers, it might be more like a conversation then drilled questions thrown at you.
- You can’t read the interviewers body language and judge how the interview went based on that.
- You can’t judge if the interviewer really liked you, or was just being polite over the phone.
- Talking over the phone increases the possibility of communication breakdown (since the visual stimuli is not in the equation.)
- If you are great at interviews then you might feel at a disadvantage because you can’t present yourself in person.
- If you still haven’t visited the school, you’ve missed another opportunity to see what the school’s department has to offer.
- It’s a little hard to be memorable over the phone, might be easier in person.
- If you haven’t visited the school, it’s the perfect opportunity to go and ask all the questions you want without feeling like you’re being a pain.
- If you don’t necessarily look good on paper, it’s an opportunity to sell yourself and speak from the heart about why you’re a great candidate.
- You get to see what your competition looks like.
- You might be able to chat with current grad students.
- You get to meet professors and see the clinic (if the school has one).
- You get to make a first impression!
- You get an impression about the school, and might be able to decide if it’s a good fit for you after all.
- If interviews make you visibly anxious, they interviewer might hold this against you. But then again, they might also understand.
- You might start comparing yourself with the competition.
Keeping in mind that some schools just make decisions based on the one-dimensional paper-based applicant, I think interviews are great for people like me who need that extra selling point. In this competitive field, you need every opportunity you can to stand out from the crowd. You first impression in person might be the difference between you and that applicant who are neck-to-neck in terms of grades and experience. Make sure you don’t disregard this step, or take it lightly!
Here’s a recent article I read about answering the dreaded open-question Tell Me About Yourself in Graduate Admission Interviews.
If you are a #SLPeep or grad school hopeful and would like to know more details about what the actual interview day consisted of, please send me a request on Twitter. (@TracitaLinda) I can’t speak for what all schools do, but any information is better than no information and I love connecting with other people in the field!