AFTER THE GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICATION PROCESS
Congratulations! You have been invited to interview at the program(s) of your choice. You have overcome at least one hurdle. This most likely means you have met all of the required criteria for admission. It is important to note that some programs conduct interviews virtually, and others may not conduct interviews at all as part of the admission process, but rather rely on other aspects of the admission requirements to make decisions.
What Can You Expect? Each school will have a unique interview process. The most common types of interviews conducted by counseling programs are group and individual interviews or a combination of the two. Some counseling programs may ask you to do a short presentation or participate in some sort of group activity. They may also present an overview of the program including the mission statement, expectations, philosophy of the program, funding, and assistantships available. This is a time to determine if the program is a good fit for you as well as you for them. While the majority of programs that conduct interviews hold them in person, advances in technology have provided alternatives. Programs can utilize video chat platforms such as Skype or online meeting programs such as GoToMeeting or Zoom for online programs or for students who are unable to attend interviews due to conflicts or distance (e.g., international students).
What Are They Looking For? During the interview process you are being evaluated on several levels. Overall, programs are measuring your "fit” in the program. They are looking at your ability to succeed in the program and whether you share the same philosophy as the program (e.g., medical, wellness, preventative model; research vs. skill-based). Below are a few tips for making a good impression:
- • Be early. There is nothing that will ruin your chances more quickly than arriving late to an interview. Showing up late conveys a lack of professionalism, importance, low priority, and/or a minimum of prior research to find the correct location or plan ahead. In short, do NOT be late.
- • Present yourself professionally. As they say, you only make a first impression once. Therefore, dress professionally, with no exceptions. You can make a subtle fashion statement, but do not wear anything too trendy, outrageous, or revealing. Avoid clothing choices such as flip flops, tank tops, graphic T-shirts, shorts, 6-inch heels, inappropriate lace tights, trendy jeans, and a myriad of other very unprofessional items. You will be working with the public in the future and need to demonstrate your understanding of professionally appropriate attire.
• Be ready to share yourself and your ideas. The counseling interview is different from a job interview. You may be asked more personal questions due to the fact that the committee wants to make sure you are mentally healthy and psychologically stable. Be open and honest but not overly personal. A balance between sharing too much information versus not sharing enough should be a goal of your interview. You do not want to represent yourself as someone you are not; this would become obvious once you entered the program. Establish healthy boundaries that demonstrate you can function as a counseling professional who understands appropriate self-disclosure.