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Hello everyone,

I've started to prepare for my upcoming interviews, and at least one of them will involve a large group discussion with faculty and a separate large group discussion with current students. These will be followed by individual interviews with various faculty. I'm a bit concerned about coming up with original answers and standing out in a group of 20+ students, especially considering that I'm not super assertive (will have to kick it up a notch for the interviews). What questions are better asked in a public vs. one-on-one format? In general, what are some tips for succeeding in a group interview?

Thanks!

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Just focus on your own answers and being authentic. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but you're not there to "beat" anyone, this is your opportunity to show them who you are. It's clear in a group setting when people aren't being themselves, so take a deep breath, remind yourself that they invited you because they are excited about what you have to offer, and focus on being your best self. If that doesn't end up being what they want then it's for the best. But you don't want to act one way in the interview and then show up to the program as someone else. That doesn't benefit anyone in the long run. Good luck, have fun, and remember, you're the only you in that room!

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I just had a group interview on Friday and one thing I really noticed was people stepping on each others toes to try to be impressive. My advice: take space, make space. If they ask you to go around and share something, you don't need to give your entire life story and philosophy no matter how interesting it may be. If you're in a session about diversity, don't play into the oppression olympics, and if you know you have a lot of privilege it is much better to acknowledge that than to try to dig up some experience of marginalization. In terms of questions: you'll likely be with faculty that you'll never work with in the group interviews. Ask big picture questions about the program as a whole (how do students fare on the job market, what are the strength and weaknesses of the program, what is the general life contentment of students), and save the nitty gritty detail questions (how does summer funding work, do grad students collaborate on projects, where is most data collected) for interviews with your PI. I hope this helps! All in all, just be present and try to show some personality and awareness.

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