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How to Prepare for a Grad School Interview at Medill

Dec 02, 2021
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A formal interview is a standard part of the application process for graduate school. At Medill, it’s an opportunity for the admissions interviewer to learn more about you and your career goals, and it’s your chance to ask a few questions—to get a feel for the program and its expectations.

Remember that you’ve been invited to it by people who are genuinely interested in you. Approaching it as a conversation can help diffuse any nervousness you might feel. You’ll be at your best when you know what to expect and have prepared in advance, from anticipating common interview topics to determining what you’ll ask and creating your video-conference setting. Read on for tips that will help you present yourself well and complete your interview with confidence.

Do your research.

There are easily a dozen reasons why you’ve chosen the Medill MS in IMC Professional program. You may be attracted by the university’s or the school's reputation, the program's structure, coursework or faculty. Before your interview, take the time to conduct thorough research into the program and its curriculum. This way, you’ll be prepared to respond to questions with informed answers and ask insightful questions that are specific to your career goals.

Practice your answers.

A handful of graduate school interview questions come up frequently enough that you can anticipate and prepare to answer them. They’ll probably include some version of these:

  • What are your professional goals?
  • Why do you want to attend this school?
  • How will this program help with your career advancement?

Make your answers specific. Your interviewer isn’t asking why you’d like to go to graduate school in general; he or she wants to know what appeals to you about the Medill school and this particular program, and the ways in which you see the program supporting your career goals. As with your professional statement, these questions give you the chance to show how you and this program are ideal matches for each other.

In addition, be ready to answer questions about yourself honestly. The Medill admissions officer may ask about your strengths and weaknesses, a time when you experienced failure and how you responded to it, a time when you succeeded, why you found those experiences valuable, and even your hobbies.

It’s important to prepare your answers in advance. Writing your responses in outline form can help you organize your thoughts and stay succinct in the interview. Practice your responses out loud a few times—ideally, with someone you trust listening and watching as you speak. Rehearsing talking points might seem tedious, but your interviewers are likely to ask about past projects or work experiences. It’s critical that you speak about them confidently, without omitting any important details. This advance preparation will help you provide articulate answers that don’t sound canned or pre-set.

Bring your questions.

After you finish answering questions, you’ll have the chance to ask some. This part of the interview is important on two fronts: It allows you to learn more about the program and it’s an opportunity to show your knowledge of the Medill program and how it will advance your career. Further, by asking thoughtful questions, you demonstrate your dedicated interest to the program and excitement for this opportunity.

While you were researching the program, what stood out? If you’re excited about a particular class or experience, now is your chance to find out more about it. You can also ask for your interviewer’s insights: advice for new students and what they do to be successful in the graduate program.

Dress to impress (even on a video call).

Dress for your graduate school interview the same way you would for a job interview.

You may find yourself participating in a video interview instead of meeting with the admissions officer in person. Even if the interviewer cannot see your full interview ensemble, he or she will notice the confidence and professionalism you project through your words and tone.

Don’t forget the basics.

Whether your interview happens in person or remotely, use what you’ve already learned about job interviews.

For video interviews:

  • Set up a quiet place where you can take the call without interruption or distraction
  • In advance, double-check that your microphone and speakers are working correctly

Though these considerations may seem small, they can add up and make an important difference in your conversation and the impression you give your interviewers.

Prepare for your graduate school interview at Medill.

As part of the admissions requirements for our Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications Professional program, the Office of Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid may require applicants to sit for an interview. Learn more about our hybrid program and the application process by reaching out to an Admissions Advisor today.