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Why do some programs (for the same subject) interview and others do not?


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I applied to four terminal Masters programs this year, all of which involve placement into three internship rotations. Two interviewed me, one said interviews are normally required but because I knew someone in the faculty already the interview was being waived, and one didn't interview at all. The one that didn't interview is the most prestigious and I'm happy I was accepted! But it made me wonder why they would choose not to interview when everyone else seems to. All the programs will involve the same style of thesis work and internship; it seems strange to me that the others want to 'get to know me' while arguably the "best" one apparently felt they got enough of an idea of me based on my SOP.


Just curious, what might the reasoning be?

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I had a similar experience. Only one school out of eight interviewed me. I'm sure interviewing gave them some information about me. But like with everything in life, the question isn't always "do interviews tell programs useful information?" but it is really, "do programs feel that the work required to conduct interviews is worth it?"

So I am guessing that these programs have decided that they didn't need the additional information that they would get from interviews given how much it will cost them (in terms of time, effort, etc.). From experience on the "other side", interviewing is a ton of work. There was one position where we had interviewed 8 candidates. There were 4-5 people on each panel interview and they were one hour long. So that's about 40 hours of work just to conduct the interviews. Plus a few more hours to have the meeting to decide which candidates to invite to the next stage. This was for a dean position instead of a grad student, so the work was well worth it to find the right fit but I never realised how much work it is to be the interviewer until I was on a committee!

Another reason could be that interviews are only used as a "check". They basically already decided to admit or not admit you. They just do interviews with all planned-admits to ensure they are still going to be a good fit for the program. This sounds like one of the schools you described in your list. I said that only one of my schools interviews but it turns out starting the year after me, one of the other schools that accepted me also started doing interviews, but they are these kind of "vetting" interview, rather than a selection interview.

Or, as I think I wrote in another thread, maybe these schools only interview certain candidates that require more information to make a selection. For some candidates, it's clear that they will make the cut even without an interview so there's no point doing that. And others, there's no interview that can change their decision from a "no" to a "yes", so there's no point interviewing those either. So, just because you didn't get an interview doesn't mean that the school chose not to interview.

Finally, perhaps schools might have noticed that interviewing didn't help them select the right candidate. If you don't know how to conduct interviews, you can just make some people way more nervous/stressed than they need to be and then you don't see their best side. Unless putting people under pressure and stress is actually a trait you are selecting for (usually not), then having a stressful interview isn't helpful. Similarly, some people are just more outgoing and confident and just perform better in-person. If this is not something you are selecting for (usually not for grad school) then interviewing can hurt the school because they might be more drawn to the outgoing types instead.

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  • 2 months later...

Was in the similar situation. Well, from my experience there are two reasons why this interview goes on. First, it is country. Second, the size of the group.

I have applied to several universities in Italy and had the interview in 3 out of 5. At the same time, all good universities in Germany did not ask for the interview but I filled so many papers and documents to apply there... I would choose the interview instead of all of that paperwork...

The second reason, the number of students in the group. The smaller the group is planned, the greater chance of the interview. 


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