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Interview- what to expect?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by August2008, May 6, 2007.

  1. August2008

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    Hey everyone, I'm just wondering what to expect in an interview for a Clinical Psychology (MA) program? How important is the interview.. is it a deal breaker? What types of questions should you expect? How long does it last? How formal is it? Any input from those who have experienced this before would be great!!
    Also, I have one other question.. If you get accepted to the MA program, does that guarantee acceptance to the PhD program? How difficult is to to get into the PhD program compared to the MA program?
    Any replies would be appreciated.. thanks in advanced.
     
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  3. JockNerd

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    If you have an interview, it means that they like you enough to take you. The interview will be mostly to see if you and the prof think you can work together for several years by interacting in person. I'd say it's very much a deal breaker. GRE marks, GPAs, whatever, won't help if personalities simply clash.

    Questions vary depending on who's asking them. Your prospective prof will have probably (hopefully) read your application material several times over. Arguably the most important question, and one you better have an answer to, is "how does what you want to do fit in with what I'm doing?" Be prepared also for things like "what research projects do you have in mind?" "what sort of things do you want to work on here?" "any ideas for your master's dissertation?" "What do you look for in a mentor? In labmates and colleagues?" There can also be specific questions about any research you already did.

    The other profs should have read you material, but will be considerably and understandably less familiar with it (they're focusing on people who want to work in their lab). You might get some of the really kind of pointless and formulaic questions ("Are you a member of any professional organizations? What have you done with that?" "Why this school?"). They might be interested in what you want to do while you're there-- TA for them, maybe. They'll ask you if you have any questions. Always do. Even if you have to ask all 3 of the profs the same question about funding just to "get everyone's opinion on the topic." Sometimes questions get a bit more interesting... "Why counseling psych and not clinical" (I got that three times), "What kind of statistical analysis are you doing on your senior thesis?" And then some of the crazy ones will ask off-the-wall questions. But, pressure interviews (the prof being intentionally rude or dismissive) seem WAY less common in psych than in Med.

    My interviews all took an entire day-- program orientation and breakfast, some interviews, lunch with the students, more interivews, tour. There's often a get-together hosted by a current student the night before or of the interviews.

    Every other interviewee will be wearing a suit, so wear one if for no other reason than not to be the odd one out. But, my luggage (with suit) got lost on the way home from one interview and I had 1 day till the plane left for my next one. I got my luggage back in time, but when I related that story to my prospective prof he laughed and said no one would care if I showed up in khakis and a nice shirt.

    Also, one point-- your prospective prof might have more than one person who's getting an interivew for one opening. Which means you're in direct competition with someone else in that room for getting in. Be prepared for that by finding out who that person is on SDN and getting alllll the dirt you ca-- I mean, by being polite and courteous the entire time (I did interview at one school where they had two interview days, and didn't schedule anyone vying for the same prof on the same day. Nice of them).

    About your MA question.... based on your other questions, I assume you have not applied yet. Is the program you're looking at structured with a seperate MA and PhD program? I ask because a very large percentage (I'd say the vast majority, really) of programs do direct-admit for PhD. So, after your BA you'll apply to the PhD program and snag a MA along the way. Funding is usually more secure in a PhD direct-admit program for first years than it is for MA students, too.
     
  4. clearcolor

    clearcolor Junior Member
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    Never interviewed for an MA program, so I can't comment on that. However, if you are accepted to an MA program, I highly doubt it means you are guaranteed an acceptance to the PhD program after completion of the MA. Think about numbers alone - there are probably well over 30 students in an MA program and less than 10 students in a PhD program.
     
  5. timecoloured

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    .
     
    #4 timecoloured, May 7, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  6. August2008

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    Thank you so much for your replies, I sincerely appreciate them. This process is more stressful than I had realized.
     
  7. Psychxiety

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    *note* This applies to PhD programs. MA programs may be similar but I didn't interview at any so I can't say.

    Most interviews are very informal. Your POI just wants to get a feel for your personality, learning style etc. They probably won't ask you too many direct scripted questions. Maybe "Why are you interested in this area?", "Tell me about your thesis/paper" Honestly though you might be better off practicing cocktail conversation rather than formal interviewing skills. (sorry for those socially anxious folks out there) In fact, there is a good chance you will really end up having happy hour with the faculty. Also have questions to ask them!!! They will ask you over and over what questions you have...the questions you ask can be very telling.

    Know your audience- yes you should glance through articles written by your POI but don't waste hours on it. Instead try to do some general background research on your POI's teaching methods, beliefs about education, empirical orientation etc…if your POI has a website it can be REALLY helpful with this (googling their name helps too). Your POI should already know from your personal statement that you are familiar with their academic work. What they are looking for in the interview is whether or not your educational/work beliefs, needs, & style match theirs. I don't mean that you should lie to make yourself sound like a good match (this would be self defeat)…but a little research can give you an extra edge & prevent you from putting your foot in your mouth. At each of my interviews, my POI interviewed between 2 & 4 candidates & usually you could tell pretty quickly who the POI had connected with. It can be stressful if the connectee isn't you but it all seems to work out in the end. I was offered positions by the two people I felt I connected with and I wasn't offered positions by the two I didn't feel a good fit with.

    On a practical note, wear a black suit, take it as a carry on (one kids luggage was lost & he had to wear jeans to the interview). He was accepted to the program but if I were him the jeans would have added to my stress level (which you don't need trust me). Don't have more than 1 drink at parties EVEN when it's just with the grad students…their impressions of you matter too. Write thank you notes...if nothing else it shows that you are still interested. Its critical that the note get there quickly while they are still making decisions. If you are super diligent you can take stationary with you and mail it at the location before you leave. I'm not super diligent so I just wrote my POI a nice email the next day, which seemed to work well. In the note its smart to ask a follow up question or comment on something you found particularly interesting...it will give your note more weight & promote dialogue which will keep you in your POIs thoughts. Don't pester your POI with multiple emails/notes or lengthy questions. You want to look interested not desperate. You will probably interview with sevral faculty and maybe a grad student or 2...a note to your POI is all that is necessary.

    Ok very long winded post but I wanted to get this out while it was still fresh on my mind. ALL of this is just my 2 cents…hope it's helpful!
     
  8. JockNerd

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    Grad school interviews or dating advice? :laugh:

    Oh, one other thing-- check out the school's teams and DO NOT wear the rival school colours by accident!! I'm sure it won't affect your chances but you will be hassled all day about it (I showed up unknowlingly wearing the school colours. I'm sure it didn't have any effect, but the word "destiny" came up several times).
     
  9. Psychxiety

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    Yeah well sometimes the interview process feels a little like dating. :laugh:
     

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