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What question is usually asked in interviews?


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Hi, I am new here. My subfield is Chinese art history.

This year I have applied for 6 programs and now 2 of them made me depressed. It seems that the situation is really hard. Chicago and Maryland, who have just rejected me, told me that there is a great increase of the applicants, and the competition is really fiece.

Now I plan to do something brave, to call the professors and make self-sales. I mean, to introduce myself to them and ask for more consideration. I really need your help about how the interview usually goes in art history. What questions they might ask?

Many thanks

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Hi, I am new here. My subfield is Chinese art history.

This year I have applied for 6 programs and now 2 of them made me depressed. It seems that the situation is really hard. Chicago and Maryland, who have just rejected me, told me that there is a great increase of the applicants, and the competition is really fiece.

Now I plan to do something brave, to call the professors and make self-sales. I mean, to introduce myself to them and ask for more consideration. I really need your help about how the interview usually goes in art history. What questions they might ask?

Many thanks

Sorry to hear that your plans are not progressing as you had envisioned. However, it is *not* a good idea to call and essentially beg for reconsideration. It will not work in your favor. In fact, it could do long term harm, esp. if you are contemplating reapplying and/or transferring to one of these institutions in the future.

Rather, wait until you hear from all of the programs to which you applied. Then, if you decide to reapply next year, contact individual professors directly and ask about what they look for in a student? Find out about their research agenda, find out their sabbatical schedule (if the Chinese specialist is going to be on leave 2 years, then that institution will likely not take any applicants in your field, etc..), etc...

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Hi, I am new here. My subfield is Chinese art history.

This year I have applied for 6 programs and now 2 of them made me depressed. It seems that the situation is really hard. Chicago and Maryland, who have just rejected me, told me that there is a great increase of the applicants, and the competition is really fiece.

Now I plan to do something brave, to call the professors and make self-sales. I mean, to introduce myself to them and ask for more consideration. I really need your help about how the interview usually goes in art history. What questions they might ask?

Many thanks

No offense, but I think you need to re-think your strategy. Ideally, you should have had these conversations before submitting your application (though that is not always necessary for acceptance). Sure, you can be brave and call them and ask for more consideration, but there is no guarantee that an interview will result from that call. You may just annoy them, especially if their decisions are being finalized.

It is very competitive this year. Lots of qualified people will not get in. I'm really not sure how much this last-ditch effort would help. Anyone else have any thoughts?

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Sorry to hear that your plans are not progressing as you had envisioned. However, it is *not* a good idea to call and essentially beg for reconsideration. It will not work in your favor. In fact, it could do long term harm, esp. if you are contemplating reapplying and/or transferring to one of these institutions in the future.

Rather, wait until you hear from all of the programs to which you applied. Then, if you decide to reapply next year, contact individual professors directly and ask about what they look for in a student? Find out about their research agenda, find out their sabbatical schedule (if the Chinese specialist is going to be on leave 2 years, then that institution will likely not take any applicants in your field, etc..), etc...

Thanks a lot! I am sorry that maybe I have not make clear my strategy. I plan to call the professors in the institutions which have not given me any news about the result. I plan to make a self-introduction to them and try to win more consideration. Actually some of my friends majored in science have successfully conducted this strategy and got good news. But I do not know whether such a crazy behavior would also work in art history, a humanity field. I don't want to spoil anything, but I really want to do something and win me a chance!

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No offense, but I think you need to re-think your strategy. Ideally, you should have had these conversations before submitting your application (though that is not always necessary for acceptance). Sure, you can be brave and call them and ask for more consideration, but there is no guarantee that an interview will result from that call. You may just annoy them, especially if their decisions are being finalized.

It is very competitive this year. Lots of qualified people will not get in. I'm really not sure how much this last-ditch effort would help. Anyone else have any thoughts?

Frankly, I am also very worried that such a call may annoy them. Now I've got an AD of UOregon, MA program. I am afraid that I do not know much about this institution, the USNEWS rank of it, 100+ disappointed my family (since now I am studying in the top1 university in my country).

Back to the point? Isn't any one who have try a unscheduled call?

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Two rejections stinks, but I wouldn't give up hope just yet.

Anyway if you do get an interview, what they generally want to know is the following:



  • Why you?
  • Why here?
  • Can you handle it?
  • If accepted, will you come?

Although questions come in many forms, this is what they want to know.

They also want to know that you are a team player, have a sense of humor and work hard. One annoying question, yet important, is what are your weaknesses? and don't say, none

Good luck and please let us know how it works out.

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Hi there!

I'm also applying for Chinese art history, I knew there were more of us out there :) I have to say, I side with everyone else on this one. DO NOT CALL. I absolutely agree with veneziana; the time to call was before application deadlines. Call now and you will risk being seen as annoying or desperate, never a good look for an aspiring grad student.

Are you at Bei Da? What other schools are you applying to? I made the rounds in December (for East Coast schools) and if we have some overlap perhaps I can offer some insight? You can PM me if you want.

I would say just try to stay calm and wait it out like the rest of us. It's normal to want to go to extreme measures when you're under stress, but resist it!

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Hi, I am new here. My subfield is Chinese art history.

This year I have applied for 6 programs and now 2 of them made me depressed. It seems that the situation is really hard. Chicago and Maryland, who have just rejected me, told me that there is a great increase of the applicants, and the competition is really fiece.

Now I plan to do something brave, to call the professors and make self-sales. I mean, to introduce myself to them and ask for more consideration. I really need your help about how the interview usually goes in art history. What questions they might ask?

Many thanks

I would perhaps considering email rather than a phone call? The profs are going to be insanely busy and overwhelmed and a phone call might be seen as a little bit invasive. As others have stated, the ideal time to have made contact was before the deadline, so you shouldn't necessarily count on them responding. Just because a school hasn't notified yet doesn't mean that they haven't already started making decisions, so realistically, chances are it's too late. And, just to reiterate, I would NOT ask any school that has already rejected you to reconsider -- if you are going to contact anyone, it should only be the schools that haven't notified yet.

The most important things in an interview is to have a good sense of what you want to study, why you want to study it, and why you think the program is a good match -- you should make sure you are familiar with a professor's work before contacting him/her.

Lastly, just out of curiosity, when did you get the Chicago rejection/how did they notify you?

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I would perhaps considering email rather than a phone call? The profs are going to be insanely busy and overwhelmed and a phone call might be seen as a little bit invasive. As others have stated, the ideal time to have made contact was before the deadline, so you shouldn't necessarily count on them responding. Just because a school hasn't notified yet doesn't mean that they haven't already started making decisions, so realistically, chances are it's too late. And, just to reiterate, I would NOT ask any school that has already rejected you to reconsider -- if you are going to contact anyone, it should only be the schools that haven't notified yet.

The most important things in an interview is to have a good sense of what you want to study, why you want to study it, and why you think the program is a good match -- you should make sure you are familiar with a professor's work before contacting him/her.

Lastly, just out of curiosity, when did you get the Chicago rejection/how did they notify you?

Thanks a lot for your suggestion. I got this news from my PhD friends in Chicago. He asked the professor and got this news. I haven't got any formal rejections yet.

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Hi, I am new here. My subfield is Chinese art history.

This year I have applied for 6 programs and now 2 of them made me depressed. It seems that the situation is really hard. Chicago and Maryland, who have just rejected me, told me that there is a great increase of the applicants, and the competition is really fiece.

Now I plan to do something brave, to call the professors and make self-sales. I mean, to introduce myself to them and ask for more consideration. I really need your help about how the interview usually goes in art history. What questions they might ask?

Many thanks

This is not an American practice and I would not suggest doing this. Like others have said, the most common time to "introduce" yourself to future professors and schools is before the deadline (late summer/early Fall). If you do this "introduction" now and try to sell yourself it will look petty and immature. A professional does not call to say "oh, but I am better." Your application should have been the best it could be, and if you think you should call the school after submitting it because you think you can convince them otherwise, then your application was not the best it could be.

Also, if you do decide to go through with this plan - do NOT call. Professors aren't always in their offices 9-5 Monday through Friday and you may end up leaving a message. If you are international, then a professor may be stuck thinking they need to call you back (expensive) OR they may just opt to ignore you altogether. Email if you must, but I would really think long and hard before doing it.

From what I can gather there are about 3x the amount of normal applicants this round than in previous and yes - competition will be tough. There may be a DOZEN reasons to reject a qualified applicant. Here are some:

1. The person/professor of interest (POI) does not want or can not take on any more students at this time.

2. The applicant does not have enough research or experience under their belt. Grad school is not the place to LEARN how to be a scholar - you should already have a solid foundation as an undergrad.

3. Funding may be limited and the school may have a policy of funding all acceptances, so they have to lower the number of acceptances.

4. Faculty could be leaving. My school is doing forced retirements so a lot of older and established faculty are leaving.

5. Your research interests may not fit. If you are interested in 20th century art, and the POI is really into 19th/20th century art and they only have space for one student, they will take the student whose interests align with their own NOT the person who is "near" the same time period. Same with this, if you are interested in Impressionism and Identity but the professor you are interested in studies Impressionism and Gender, then you may not get in.

Just be patient and wait it out.

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This is not an American practice and I would not suggest doing this. Like others have said, the most common time to "introduce" yourself to future professors and schools is before the deadline (late summer/early Fall). If you do this "introduction" now and try to sell yourself it will look petty and immature. A professional does not call to say "oh, but I am better." Your application should have been the best it could be, and if you think you should call the school after submitting it because you think you can convince them otherwise, then your application was not the best it could be.

Also, if you do decide to go through with this plan - do NOT call. Professors aren't always in their offices 9-5 Monday through Friday and you may end up leaving a message. If you are international, then a professor may be stuck thinking they need to call you back (expensive) OR they may just opt to ignore you altogether. Email if you must, but I would really think long and hard before doing it.

From what I can gather there are about 3x the amount of normal applicants this round than in previous and yes - competition will be tough. There may be a DOZEN reasons to reject a qualified applicant. Here are some:

1. The person/professor of interest (POI) does not want or can not take on any more students at this time.

2. The applicant does not have enough research or experience under their belt. Grad school is not the place to LEARN how to be a scholar - you should already have a solid foundation as an undergrad.

3. Funding may be limited and the school may have a policy of funding all acceptances, so they have to lower the number of acceptances.

4. Faculty could be leaving. My school is doing forced retirements so a lot of older and established faculty are leaving.

5. Your research interests may not fit. If you are interested in 20th century art, and the POI is really into 19th/20th century art and they only have space for one student, they will take the student whose interests align with their own NOT the person who is "near" the same time period. Same with this, if you are interested in Impressionism and Identity but the professor you are interested in studies Impressionism and Gender, then you may not get in.

Just be patient and wait it out.

Thanks a lot. I do have contacted with professors before deadlines. Considering all your suggestions, I decide to give up my calling-plan and be patient. Thank you.

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