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Thoughts on interviews and admissions.


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Perhaps the Interviews and Visits sub forum is a better place for this, but seeing as how this forum is more active....

 

There seems to be some confusion about interviews and acceptances.  Generally it seems that when a poster writes that he or she has been declined an offer of admission there is usually a quip about "...did not interview...so I expected a reject..." This is in conjuncture with another misconception "I was interviewed, yet still rejected.  I thought I was in.  I mean, I interviewed.  WTF?" Perhaps this is not an across-the-board kind of thing, or maybe it is, but interviews can be broken down into two categories.  

 

The first, Not Having an Interview.

Three things are happening here: 1). Your application was flat-out rejected, 2). Your application was accepted without need of further action, 3). The department/lab/PI does not have the time or believes that interviews are a not a good predictor of future grad school success (Google this, it's for real), so why bother.  

 

Just because you did not get an interview does not mean you were rejected or will soon be.  

 

Got the Interview.

Okay great.  Interviews are conducted for three reasons, also:  1).  To be used as a tie-breaker between you and so-and-so applicant, 2). They want to admit you but there is something in application that is not pushing you over, so the interview is used to help aid their decision, 3). The interview is to clarify and verify a few things. 

 

Of there are probably other reasons, but my point is that just because you got an interview does not mean you are accepted and just because you did not get an interview does not mean you are automatically rejected.  

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Hmm. Thank you for posting this. I have been thinking that I was rejected because I did not receive interviews from a couple of programs when others have. 

 

On the other hand, I have also heard that interviews are to make sure you're not weird, lol. This is probably especially important for professional fields, where you will be interacting with clients on a daily basis.

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I don't think an interview is a definitive marking of whether or not you get acceptance.  However, in some situations the interview/visit weekend is also to sell the school to you.  it also is an opportunity to sway applicants that they want.  it also is a way to see if personality and culture of the school and student is a good fit which is something that will help in the success of the student within a program.  if a school is going to pay for your PhD they likely will want you to visit to make sure you are not as deafaudi put it "weird" which is important to make sure that socially the student is capable of succeeding outside of the classroom.  What I think it boils down to is that there are MANY reasons why interviews and recruitment weekends happen.  it depends on the school, the type of program, and the applicant.  I would say at least in my field that a majority of people will interview before they are accepted even if they offer the acceptance that weekend.  I think an interview is an indication that you have a good chance of acceptance in most situations however so sometimes people can surmise their chances on whether or not they may have a chance.  Also remember a lot of people then assume that they aren't getting in when they hear other people saying they are interviewing for the program they applied to, as people post on the results section, others may start to say...well since i haven't heard anything and they are clearly interviewing people my chances are lower since I was not part of that initial group.  In no way does that mean it won't or can't happen but we are talking about trends and people searching for information in a system that does not always keep people calm and relaxed or in the know of their status.

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I agree with the OP, but have to add that it completely depends on the program you are applying to what it means (not) to get an interview.

 

Some programs do not interview at all, which are easiest to deal with. Some programs interview everyone (or a way too large proportion to admit), which means that the interview is a crucial part of the admissions process. Other programs only interview applicants they are quite sure of as a final check. Of course, many programs hold the middle somewhere...

 

I applied to two programs that do not interview and one that does. The one that does says that interviews are standard for all applicants living in the country. It also says that it will make no acceptances without an interview. So if you are a national getting an interview means nothing, while as an international it means that at least you have made the first cut.

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I agree with the OP, but have to add that it completely depends on the program you are applying to what it means (not) to get an interview.

 

Some programs do not interview at all, which are easiest to deal with. Some programs interview everyone (or a way too large proportion to admit), which means that the interview is a crucial part of the admissions process. Other programs only interview applicants they are quite sure of as a final check. Of course, many programs hold the middle somewhere...

 

Agreed.  The interview thing is not only something that varies by field, but varies by program as well.

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I got accepted into programs without interviewing, and was rejected by programs that I interviewed. I have also been accepted into programs that I interviewed and rejected from programs without interviewing...

 

 

I had it all happening

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This depends greatly on your field as well as the school. Some fields, no interview means no chance of acceptance whereas in others, there are no interviews at all.

 

For the most part, in my field (molecular biology/biomed), if you don't get an interview, you're not getting accepted. There aren't many schools that will accept you (with notification) before you interview. Like Peachy said, interviews are used to sell you the school, but they're also used to make sure you're really as good of a fit as you seem on paper. For this field, it means you made it over the first hurdle and you have a better chance, but it doesn't guarantee you admission. If you get a flat-out rejection right after the interview, it means you really screwed something up. There are acceptances post-interview, and then wait-lists.

 

Obviously in other fields, this is going to be different.

 

I feel like it would be helpful to generate a list of common application to admission/rejection timelines for the various fields and then there wouldn't be so much confusion. Perhaps it would be helpful to note likelihood of funding or if things like rotations happen as well. It would be hard to do all of them all at once, but maybe the sciences would be a start. (1st-year grad student, so I'm not volunteering to do it!)

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