Interviewing for PhD Programs

Based on the quality of your application materials, you will be called for an interview if the school is interested in meeting you.

You can contact the school and ask questions about the interview process, although the following is usually provided before the interviews.

  • Who are the interviewers
    • faculty
    • students
    • administrators of the school
  • How many are there
  • What is the school looking for in its students


Prepare for the interview.

  • Practice with faculty, other students, etc.
  • Re-read your personal statement
  • Review your research experiences so that you can discuss the research
  • Dress appropriately and comfortably


Ask questions both to inform yourself and to demonstrate an interest in the school (otherwise why go?)

  • Coursework - required and elective?
  • Rotations - why, how many?
  • Other hurdles - prelims, qualifying exams?
  • Financial aid package, how much, how long, what are the sources?
  • Teaching opportunities versus TAing to finance grad school?
  • Research opportunities?
  • Average time to degree?
  • Outcome of graduates?


Pay attention to the environment while you are there.

  • Are students and faculty readily available to meet with you when you visit?
  • Do students seem happy to be in the program/school?
  • Is the atmosphere and culture what you want/need?


Be aware that you are being evaluated the entire time you are on the campus, not just during the one-on one faculty interviews.