Applying to graduate school is a long process and if you
have been invited for an interview, you should take a moment to congratulate
yourself. Now, the next step is to prepare for this very important meeting. Preparation
is key to understanding the types of questions you might be asked as well as
preparing your own questions to ensure that this program will be a good fit for
you. Of course, you are hoping to be accepted to programs to which you have
applied; however, it is also extremely important to remember that graduate
school is a serious commitment. You are embarking on the start of a very
specific training path and graduate school is often a hefty time commitment of
anywhere from five to seven years. Faculty and administrators will be assessing
if you are emotionally and intellectually mature enough to take this commitment
on. Likewise, you should be evaluating during the application and interview process
if this will be the best next step and the best program for you both
professionally and personally.
While it is impossible to know exactly which questions will be asked (hence your anxiety), there are some general and commonly asked questions which you should review. The OITE has a list of interview questions and Science Careers has posted a google document with an extensive list of questions that might be good for you to ask of the program. You should always have questions prepared for the interviewer.
Since we are still in the midst of a pandemic, your interviews will likely all be conducted online. There are special considerations to think of and prepare for in regards to virtual interviews. The OITE Director, Dr. Sharon Milgram, has offered advice for the 2020/2021 graduate school interview cycle in a comprehensive video which you can find on YouTube here. Please, take some time to listen as you will definitely gain great insights from this talk.
If you are a postbac at the NIH, remember that you can also seek help from career counselors as you prepare for your interview. We wish you all good luck on your upcoming interviews!