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The Top 5 Mistakes Made During the Postgraduate Interview

written by: John Garger•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 6/27/2010

If you’ve made it to the postgraduate admissions interview, you have likely met the minimum requirements for matriculation into the program. Learn about the top 5 mistakes made by students at the interview for postgraduate studies.

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    Congratulations. You’ve met the minimum requirements for admissions into the postgraduate studies program of your choice. Your undergraduate grades are at least satisfactory and you’ve scored well on a standardized test such as the GRE or GMAT. Now the admissions committee wants to talk to you in an interview to see if you are graduate student material.

    Acing the postgraduate interview takes more than knowing what to say and do. You also need to know about the most common mistakes admissions candidates make at the interview. Read on to learn how to ace the interview for postgraduate studies.

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    1 – Lying on Your Resume or Application

    I know of one fellow who took three courses in French during his undergraduate program and put down that he was fluent in the language on his postgraduate studies resume and application. When he got to the interview, the admissions committee member, being French Canadian, greeted the prospective student in French and continued to conduct the interview in the language. Without ever opening his mouth, the admissions candidate, who was far from fluent in the language, lost his chance to study at the postgraduate level.

    The lesson here is never lay claim to something on your resume or application that you can’t immediately and competently back up at the interview. Act as if you will be tested on everything you indicate on your application and you can be sure that it is clear of misrepresentations and outright exaggerations.

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    2 – Being Overconfident

    No matter how great your accomplishments, being overconfident and overeager can make you appear arrogant. Arrogance will get you nowhere with an admissions committee member so save it for somewhere else. The more arrogant you appear, the more the interviewer will question the legitimacy of what’s in your application packet.

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    3 – Being Under-confident

    At the other end of the extreme is to appear under-confident in your abilities and accomplishment. Acing the postgraduate studies interview takes a balance between appearing arrogant and sheepishness. In your postgraduate studies, you will likely engage in teamwork, public speaking, and service-learning/civic engagement. Arrogant and under-confident students tend to do poorly at these tasks.

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    4 – Dressing Inappropriately

    Before you go to the interview, take some time to stroll around the campus and see what the professors and other staff members wear on a daily basis. Is it business casual, business smart, or business formal? When you go to the postgraduate studies interview, emulate your interviewer when it comes to attire. You want to appear to fit in without being too over or under dressed.

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    5 – Being a Talking Resume

    Acing the postgraduate studies interview will take more than just repeating what’s on your resume and application to a live audience. The admissions committee already has a list of your accomplishments and past work. Now the committee wants to get a grasp of your motivation, your communication skills, and your personality. How you conduct yourself in the interview is even more important than what you say. Be prepared to offer something to the postgraduate studies admissions committee members that they can’t get on a piece of paper.

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    Acing the postgraduate studies interview takes more than just repeating in person what you’ve already indicated on your resume. The admissions committee wants to learn more about you, your personality, and your interest in finishing the Master’s degree program. Arrogance and sheepishness have no place at this interview and neither does exaggerated claims that you can’t back up. You best bet is to be yourself and not try to impress the interviewer. The moment you consciously try to impress the committee is the same moment you will come across as insincere.