At most universities, about 3-6 applicants are invited for an interview for every one admissions slot available. The 200-600 applications received by most doctoral level psychology graduate programs have been narrowed to just a few dozen. However, referring to this next stage of the process as an “Interview” incorrectly portrays the experience as a process by which faculty are exclusively selecting students. In reality, a large proportion of interview-invited applicants have more than one site to visit, which means that students are evaluating and selecting programs as much as vice versa. You have a lot of “power” in this situation, and a lot of information to gather to make one of the most important professional decisions of your life. Let’s get prepared for a very fun, and somewhat stressful, interview season! As always, I will refer to Mitch's Uncensored Advice on Applying to Graduate School (found on the Personal Statement's page) for great advice on anything & everything about the graduate interview process. Here is quick video from APA about the interview process as well.
Before the Interview
Do your homework!
Above all else, prepare well so that you can ask thoughtful, meaningful questions. Read the program’s website & any additional information you can get about the program, the university, & its location. Learn everything you can about your potential advisor(s) & other faculty members in the program. Prepare questions to ask each person you meet.
What to Wear!
Click here for a simple guide of business attire by UT's business school. Both men & women wear a professional looking suit (black, gray, navy). Also wear little, if any, cologne/ perfume, try to cover up all tattoos and remember to look professional! Girls you can wear pants or a skirt but if you plan on wearing heels, make sure you bring a pair of comfortable flats to walk in! Also you can set your purse down in the room so you can bring a large purse if you want to put your heels in it, and bring a smaller purse to wear throughout the day, if you want!
Interview Day: ASK QUESTIONS!
Questions for Potential Advisor:
Clinical Psychology Specific Questions:
- What are your current research projects? What stages are these projects in? What directions do you expect the lab research to go over the next five years?
- Do graduate students work on both your on-going research as well as their own more independent, but related, projects?
- What facilities outside the department or even outside the university would I have access to? Are there many inter- or intra-departmental research collaborations?
- How would you describe your mentoring style and expectations?
- How often, in general, do you meet with your graduate students? How often do the students who make up your lab meet as a group? What are these meetings usually like? How many graduate and undergraduate students are in your laboratory?
- If you had unlimited grant money, what research would you be doing?
- To what extent can my interests as a student be incorporated into the broader interests of your lab, vs. how much would I be expected to carry out an existing line of research?
- Is it possible to live comfortably on the stipend salary in this town?
- What do you consider to be the best and worst aspects of this program?
- What is one thing you wish you had known or understood better before coming here?
- How much time does [your potential advisor] spend one-on-one with his/her advisees? What is his/her mentorship style – hands off or hands on? How much feedback does he or she give on written work?
- Do most students get along well with each other and with faculty members? Why or why not? Do students work in more than one lab?
- What’s the cost of living in this area – how much is rent, typically?
- How long does it take for most PhD students in this program to graduate? When students graduate, how many publications and conference presentations do they typically have, and what kinds of jobs do they usually get?
- Is there any formal training in teaching?
- How competitive vs. cooperative are grad students in this program?
- To what extent does the training in this program focus on students' development as researchers vs. clinicians vs. teachers?
- What sorts of teaching opportunities exist here for graduate students? Is there training for new teachers as part of the program?
- Are there opportunities for summer funding?
- What type of jobs have graduating students from the program received in the past few years.
Clinical Psychology Specific Questions:
- When does clinical training begin (2nd year, 3rd year, etc.)? How does the training progress? Is the training program APA accredited?
- How much clinical experience do most students get? Where? With what populations (e.g., children, students, adults, court-ordered participants, etc.)?
- Does the clinical program focus on one type of training (cognitive-behavioral, etc.) more than others, and if so, which type?
- What percent of students match with their top choice for internship? Where do they match/go?
After the Interview
- Send a thank you note (e-mail is fine) to those you interviewed with, esp. your advisor & your graduate student host.
- A follow-up inquiry about when you should expect to hear about the admission decision is acceptable, but don’t pester the university or your potential adviser with emails or phone calls regarding the status of your application.
- If you are accepted, you will generally receive the formal offer sometime between the interview date and April 1, and you will have until April 15 to accept or decline. Students who are not offered a position immediately might be put on a waiting list (which might extend past April 1), and as applicants turn down offers, other students might then be offered positions.
- Quickly turn down offers that do not interest you. Faculty members won’t be offended if you choose to go somewhere else, but they will be annoyed if you hold on to an offer so long that they miss out on other qualified applicants who are next in line after you.