What to Expect
- You submit your application before December 1st
- In December, you might receive a phone interview or two (only a few schools do phone interviews). You might even get a call from your potential mentor wanting to interview you on the spot. Because of this, I suggest you let all unknown numbers go to voice mail (and get back to the caller within the same day). This way, you will have a few hours to prepare for your interview.
- In January, you will find out about whether you received in-person interviews. If other people have received an interview and you have not, it means that you have been rejected, although you won’t receive an official rejection until March/April. If you networked and followed my tips on rocking the GRE and putting together a great application, you should get many interviews.
- If it is the end of January and you have not heard back about interviews at a particular school, it is OK to call the administrative assistant at the school and ask him/her if all interview invitations have been sent out
What to Expect
- There will likely be a social event with graduate students the night before your interview. Although it is perfectly acceptable to have a drink, this is not the time to party. Rather, it is an informal setting to ask graduate students questions. Be very enthusiastic, and show that you are someone fun
- You will have a full day interview, with campus tours. You will most likely interview with your potential mentor, the Director of Clinical Training, maybe another professor or two, and maybe a graduate student. Although all interviews are important, your most important interview is the interview with your potential mentor
- There will likely be a breakfast, lunch, and information sessions. Remember that you are being interviewed during the entire stay
- You will likely be allowed to stay with a graduate student. This is also part of the interview. Be nice / polite, bring chocolates or some other small gift for host, and please shower at night so you don’t have the host waiting to use the bathroom while you shower
I found there to be three types of questions
- Your Story: (Ex: “Tell me about yourself”, “Walk me through your CV”; “What kind of research experiences have you had”, “Why clinical Psychology?, “Why this school?”, “What do you want to do after graduation?”)
- “Fit” Questions: (Ex: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”; “Do you work better alone or in groups?”)
- Research-Related Questions: (Ex: “Tell me about what you want to do for your dissertations?”; “What project would you do if you had all the grant money you wanted?”; “Why do you think we are a good fit?”, )
- You will also be expected to have prepared questions to ask professors / students . It is very important that you come prepared with many questions, as you will be judged by the quality/quantity of your questions
What to Wear and Bring?
- Buy yourself a grey, black, or navy suit.
- Bring a nice black professional padfolio with copies of your CV.
- Girls should carry a nice professional purse around. Guys, you should not carry anything else but the padfolio above
- Bring your suitcase as a carry-on. Airlines are known for losing luggage all the time
- Build enough time into your schedule for potential delays
- Do not fly through northern airports that tend to cancel flights in the wintertime (ei – Chicago / Boston) if you can avoid
- Fly Southwest or use Airline Miles if you can – they let you change flights for free. This will be useful if you are juggling many interviews.
What are your Odds?
Most programs interview 4-6 people per spot. However, even if you are not the “chosen” candidate, there’s a chance that other candidates won’t accept and that you will get in off the wait list (unlike with an undergraduate applications, it is quite common for people to get into a program from the wait list). So, at this point your odds are looking pretty good! However, I do know people who have gotten 10+ interviews and no offers, so this is not a reason to not prepare very well
When You Will Hear Back
You usually will hear back sometime in late February/early March. There’s a chance you will hear back later in the process if you have been wait listed, as many programs don’t contact wait list candidates. However, if you have other offers and a couple weeks have passed since the interview, it is perfectly OK to reach out to a program and ask them about your status.
For Further Learning
This article just scratches the surface of interview preparation. I am in the process of making an comprehensive interview study guide.