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Phone Interview?

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Hey guys! So I've been given the chance to call and have a brief interview with one of the advisers at USU, and I was wondering how should I handle this? What questions should I ask?


I have terrible phone anxiety, and so the thought of talking to someone who could possibly hold my future in my hands is enough to make me shake. I know I should ask about research possibilities, how well this department works with that one (since I want to cross folklore and gender studies), but other than that, I am stumped. 


Any veterans have advice for those of us far too clueless about (and scared of) phone interviews?

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I also have phone anxiety, but I somehow managed to give a very good impression to my POI.

Part of the reason is that he called me an hour early due to time zone differences. So I wasn't getting more anxious by the minute as the time came closer.


Some advice for you:

Try to be as honest as you can. If you have to go through grad school with a mask on, it will not be nearly as fulfilling in my opinion.

For me, I tend to relax after the first few minutes of the phone ringing, especially when I don't feel the tension with the other person. That's kind of how I determined personality fit with the POI and I. If I was tense throughout the whole conversation, afraid that I will mess up, chances are that it will be the same thing for those 5-7 years in graduate school.

Also, don't worry too much about not asking enough questions. If you think of something afterwards, email the person you talked to about it.


This is the perfect time to determine whether you not only have a good research fit, but also a personal fit.

I'm sorry I can't give specifics for your area of study, but some questions I was asked were:

What is your past research?

What are your interests now?

Why do you want to go to graduate school?

What do you want to do after graduate school?


Hope this helps! (:

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First of all, breathe! :) If you're like me you will feel less anxious if prepared, so I suggest that you do the following:


1. Think of likely questions they will ask you. These include:

  • "Why did you choose this field?"
  • "Why this school/program?"
  • "What do you want to do with this degree/Why the PhD?"
  • "What are your research interests?"
  • "Tell us about your experiences/what makes you qualified for this?"
  • "What are your strengths/weaknesses?" You can also look up situational interview questions for job interviews, as some wil ask you those.


2. Run through a mock interview either with yourself in a mirror or with a friend. It can be as simple as you asking the question and then answering it back.


3. Don't be afraid to take time to answer. They understand that you need time to arrange your thoughts.


4. Have a list of things about your background/experience/whatever that you absolutely know they need to hear. Something that sets you apart, yor good/unique skills, etc. and work them into the conversation/your answers. You can physically cross them off the page (since it's a phone interview) as you go if you want.


5. Have a list of at least 10 questions you want to ask them. This is crucial, and often overlooked. I say 10 because it is likely that some will be answered over the course of the conversation without you asking them, which may cut down on the number you have at the end.


6. Relax, and smile! Nervousness will show in your voice. Smiling makes you sound more cheerful and will slow down your speech (in a good way).


7. If you're like me you will have a scrap paper to doodle "fuck!" and other expletives on when things don't go well. :P


Good luck!

Edited by iphi
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