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What's the Purpose of a Graduate Admissions Interview?


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Not all graduate programs require them, but if you are invited to attend an admissions interview, it's in your best interest to attend. Given the expense and time, an admissions interview is rarely required to be accepted to a graduate program, but getting an acceptance letter will be challenging if you haven't attended the interview. Why? There are several interrelated functions of the interview:

  • Meet the person behind the application. This is the most obvious reason. Meeting an applicant can address questions such as whether an applicant's statements made in his or her essay appear genuine
  • Match a face to a name.  Of course appearance is not part of the admissions process, but interviews offer the opportunity to match your face, personality, and other qualities to your name.  to a face. Simply put, interviews are an important way for faculty and graduate admissions committees to see you as a whole person and not a set of essays and test scores.
  • Graduate faculty spend years cultivating and guiding students to develop related but independent lines of research. There is a lot of one-to-one contact. Faculty want to know whether you are someone they would want to work with. They also want to know if you will be able to contribute to their work. An in-person conversation can help them decide on your application.
  • It's your interview too!  Is the program right for you? Can you see yourself here? Does it meet your needs?
  • Can you work with a given faculty member? Applicants spend a lot of time wondering whether faculty will like them -- but will you like the faculty? You will spend years working on faculty  research. It is essential that you meet them. Do you really want to commit to working with (for) someone for the foreseeable future, without meeting him or her beforehand? Didn't think so.
  • Enter the admissions interview..... it serves a purpose for both faculty and applicants.

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