Grad School Interview Tips for Future SLPs
Do you know future Speech Language Pathologists who are applying to graduate school? Here are some tips to share with them about graduate school interviews.
Many university programs use interviews to learn about a candidate’s experiences, interests, and personality.
Think about the following types of questions:
• What interested you in Speech Language Pathology? Concisely share your background and meaningful life decisions that have led you to this point.
• Why are you interested in attending this university? Review the values and mission of the university, along with the expertise of the faculty before the interview.
• What are your strengths? Think about strengths that are unique to you, along with a short example of when you used one of your strengths to support others.
• What are your challenges? Think about how you have come to understand your struggles, and how you have established ways to ensure that you are successful, e.g., “I know that I like to observe before I jump in, so I make sure to let people know that I learn best by example."
• What hobbies do you have? Your creativity and life interests help people see your personality. Share a vignette from one of your favorite recent pastimes.
• What is a time that you have handled a difficult interpersonal situation? Describe how you work with others and how you consider other people’s perspectives.
• What are your clinical interests? Share your enthusiasm and excitement about specific aspects of this field. Additionally, remember to show that you are open-minded in your learning and that you have an appreciation of the complexity of disorder types and clinical populations.
An interview is a form of ritualized and scripted interaction. There are expected ways of responding that reflect your ability to organize and present information.
• Practice answering sample questions before the actual interview. Have a supportive friend listen to your responses. Record yourself answering questions. You are practicing composing and expressing your thoughts for an audience.
• Practice answering with a summary statement, two or three main points, and a short example, e.g., “I am interested in how Autism Spectrum Disorder affects learning opportunities. ASD affects social interaction, which reduces access to incidental learning in daily family routines. When children have less early learning opportunities, this could impact their language development. I’ve read how Early Intervention can change access to social opportunities through parent training models. When I watched (add example from an observation or video from class).”
• Don’t rush to answer a question. You can restate the question, pause, and then answer, e.g., “…My clinical interests... I have many clinical interests (and then start your answer)”
• Think about ways to personalize the exchange. Make a genuine positive comment about new information provided by the interviewers. Share a meaningful and emotional (happy, funny, sad, surprising) learning moment from your coursework or clinical work.
An interview provides a special opportunity to reflect on your emerging professional identity. Let the interviewers see your commitment and dedication. Our profession needs your fresh insight and energy!