Getting an interview can feel great, but is also a bit nerve wracking. What will they ask? How do you answer? I’ve put together this post of common interview questions to help you start thinking your way through the interview.
WARNING: Do not memorize responses to these questions or any others. You’ll come across like a robot! What you actually need to do with practice is get comfortable thinking quickly and speaking about yourself.
1. Tell us about yourself
This is a common starter question. You should definitely expect it or some variation of it. It is not a trick question; the interviewer is just looking to get to know you on a personal level and also help you get comfortable starting the interview. I recommend a simple – past, present, future approach to this question: This where I’m from… this is what I’m doing now…and this is where I’m going.
Example answer: Well, I’m from a small town in the midwest. I went to undergrad at a public liberal arts school nearby. I loved it. I learned about all sorts of different thing and that’s when I first found out about SLP. Currently I’m working as an ESL teacher at a middle school and loving it. But I know I want to go back to grad school and eventually start working as an SLP.
2. Why do you want to become an SLP?
This is kind of the fundamental question of the interview. It may come in different forms: What drew you to the field of SLP? How did you discover the field? What are your reasons for applying? etc. Your answer will probably come mostly from your personal statement.
3. Have you identified any areas of interest in the field?
This is a great question that serves a few purposes. For the interviewers, it helps them find out how well you might fit into their program. For example if you say, “Oh I definitely want to work with adult neurogenic disorders,” and the school doesn’t have a specialist in that area it might be a tough sell. So this is an opportunity for you to show you’ve researched the program. You could say, “Oh I really am interested in working with adult voice disorders. I know your faculty member Dr. So-and-so is doing some research on _____ in that area.
What do you say if you don’t have any areas of interest? That’s perfectly fine, just word it in the right way. Instead of: “No…I don’t have any specific interests yet.” Say, “Well, one thing I like about the field of SLP is the variety. I don’t have any one area of interest yet, and I’m excited about grad school at _____ University because I know I’ll be exposed to lots of areas like ____ and ____.”
4. How do you manage your time?
They are asking this question because graduate school demands excellent time management skills. Many semesters you will not only be a full-time student but also a clinician with a caseload of clients to provide therapy to, reports to write and sessions to plan. This doesn’t even take into account the myriad of things in your personal life! Your answer should just honestly explain what tools you use to keep yourself organized and if you have time you might even share a quick story about a time when you were particularly busy and how you kept it together.
5. How do you handle stress?
This is directly related to the time-management question. Life is stressful. Throw graduate school into the mix and being a student-clinician, and you’re in for a bumpy ride! The interviewer wants to know that when you have a big project due, a take-home exam coming up, and two therapy plans due you’re not going to drop out of school. Your answer should just explain some of the techniques you use for stress relief (exercise, meditation, talking it out with friends, regularly scheduled movie nights, etc). If you have time, you might even share a quick anecdote about when you learned about the importance of stress management.
6. Do you have any research experience? If so, tell us about it.
If you have research experience, just talk about what you did. Even if you did something relatively small for a big project, that’s okay. The tricky part is when you don’t have research experience. First, double check. This about maybe a research project you did during class. Did you have to read articles and journals to write an essay? That’s research. If you absolutely cannot think of any research experience, simply say: “I haven’t had the opportunity yet to get involved with much research.” If you are interested in learning more about research, say so!
7. What interested you in this University?
This is question that really tests how well you did your research on the school. You should have some detailed answers prepared. Maybe you’re interested in a study abroad program they have. Maybe you like their focus on medical SLP. Is this program known for a focus on diversity that really matters to you? Maybe there is a specific professor you’re interested in.
What do you do if you’re applying to a school because it is your only option in a geographic area and you cannot move due to whichever reasons? That’s a tough one. I would say, you need to research the school and the program enough that you find something about the program that excites you.
If you’re stressing out on how to prepare, you might be interested in this post on SLP School Interviews. It contains all sorts of hints and tips for interviews (in-person and phone!) that will help you begin to prepare.
Looking for more interview questions to practice? Check out this document I created of common interview questions.
Do you know of any other common questions? Have any advice you’d like to share on interviews? Post in the comments below!