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Posted July 5, 2013

The Dos and Do Nots of Postgrad Interviews

An impending postgraduate interview can be a nerve-wrecking experience. Although, a healthy amount of nerves is not a bad thing, you do not want to let it push you to the brink of insanity. The best way to ensure that you are calm and collected the day of the interview is to inform yourself and feel confident that you have taken every measure to achieve success. Here are some areas that you will definitely want to consider in relation to your postgrad interview.

Do your homework

One crucial fact that can make your interview or doom you is how much you know about the institution and the program. Do not assume that because you know a lot about one program that you know about them all. There can be differing factors that may set one program apart from another.

Bring a copy of your CV

Do not assume that the panel will already have your information on hand when you get there, take a copy with you. Also be sure that you have no errors, spelling or grammatically, and that it has been laid out in a way that highlights your achievements.

Do not be late!

It seems like it goes without saying, but it does happen. Plan out your day in order to arrive early to your appointment. This means you should get a good rest the night before and skip any parties that may beckon you.

Clean it up

You should show up to an interview clean and well dressed. When you arrive to the interview first head to the washroom and check your appearance – make sure there’s nothing in your teeth as well. Your appearance will influence how you are viewed and if you are sloppy or dirty, the perception may be that it carries over into other areas of your life as well. While you are all cleaned up and well dressed and sitting in front of the interviewers, pay attention to your posture. You put so much effort into looking good for the day don’t kill all your efforts by slouching.


You should always practice answering the questions that may be asked of you. To take this one step further you should know, not just what to answer, but also how to answer in a way that conveys the information they are looking for. Some commonly asked questions and the best ways to answer them follow.

  • Why have you chosen us?

    When answering this question draw on the information that you gained from your research. List the reasons for your choice that are based on actual facts to show that you know who you are dealing with. Avoid generalized answers that could apply to anyone who asks that question. A wishy-washy answer will convey disinterest.
  • Tell me about yourself.

    You may be tempted to launch into a story that begins in childhood, well don’t. This is your chance to list of your accomplishments, achievements and experiences that you would like to call attention to.
  • What are your weaknesses?

    The wrong way to respond to this question is by saying that you have none – come on, everyone has an area in which they are lacking. Avoid listing off more than one weakness and don’t cross the line into being critical of yourself while you speak. Instead, talk about an area where you are lacking but go on to explain how you have changed, or made changes in order to remove this weakness.

These are the three questions that often cause the most problems for people when they are asked, so be prepared.

Give thanks

After your interview it is a nice gesture to send a thank you note to the interviewer. It does not need to be a long letter, just a quick note that thanks them for their time.

As long as you stay focused, and put the pre-interview effort into researching, you should be fine. You will have a good idea of how to answer the questions and you can feel confident in your answers. This confidence will be evident to the person asking you questions. The last couple of things to keep in mind are to maintain eye contact and don’t lie. If you stretch the truth the interviewer will know. They have conducted a number of these interviews and often have highly developed senses relating to reading people. Now, go get some sleep and be yourself!

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