Not too long ago I had an interview with one of the prospective graduate schools that I applied to. From what I understand in art history departments, actual interviews are pretty rare. Based on my friends’ experiences, some schools will invite you to visit the campus and speak with faculty once you’ve been accepted- and possibly provide a small stipend.
However, interviews are required for some programs such as Art Administration, or Public Health, or Public Policy, but it really just depends on the school. They may invite you to visit in person, or conduct the interview via phone or Skype.
There are ways you can prepare for a graduate interview, but sometimes all the preparation you do beforehand can be all for naught. Here are some sites you can check out to help give you an idea of what they might ask:
In my case the questions were fair. Basic things, such as why this school? They also prepared questions from my personal statement. Reading over your personal statement would be wise.
In my mind, I had expected to interview with the professors I mentioned I’d be working with, perhaps the graduate chair, and maybe another faculty that would ask pertinent questions. I expected a thorough yet intimate grouping which I am pretty comfortable with. What I did not expect was a total of 7 members of the art history faculty!
I should have known better- I used to work at a fine arts community center where sometimes I’d chat with the art instructors and they’d tell me their stories when interviewing for a faculty position. It was the same as I’d described above, except they would have to stand with their slides describing their work before an admission committee.
When panic sets in, it’s kind of a hopeless case, but the best you can do is take your time to think about the questions they ask, and go with it. There were a blur of questions. My thirty minutes went by fairly quickly.
I don’t know how well I did, but what can you do? It was a definitely a learning experience. But quite honestly, I feel like I personally got more out of this than they really got to know about me. I hope they got a basic sense of where I wanted to go with my research. At the end of the evening, my perspective on what I wanted to study has grown just by speaking with a few of the faculty. My ideas are still not completely formed, but I now have a clearer direction of where I could go with my dissertation topic.
Really, more exposure to this situation will help you do better. This was my first graduate interview, but it surely won’t be my last one ever. Practice makes perfect. And don’t forget: smile!