Skip to main content

106: HelloPhD Guide to Grad School Applications – Acing Your Interview with Dr. Beth Bowman (R)

See our previous episodes in this series:

With most jobs, you’ll need to submit a polished resume along with a handful of ebullient references. Maybe you’ll pass through a phone-screen with HR and then spend 20 minutes with the hiring manager.  

To get into grad school, the interview process will take days.

Grad school interviews often start with a flight to a new city.  You’ll have a casual chat with the grad student assigned to retrieve you from the airport, then meet the fellow candidate with whom you’ll share a hotel room.

The moment you get settled, you’re off to dinner with some faculty, followed by an early bedtime.  That’s because tomorrow morning, you’ll pass through a series of orientation sessions, faculty interviews, a tour of the city, and finally, a late-night out with the current students in the program.

You’ll fly back home the next day, grateful to be sleeping in your own bed.  And just when you get settled, you’ll need to hop on a plane to reach the next school where you’ll start the process again.

Best Foot Forward

Interview season can be rough on prospective students, and there’s plenty of work to be done.  But that doesn’t mean you need to be stressed.

This week, we talk with Dr. Beth Bowman, Assistant Director of Graduate Programs in Biomedical Sciences and Co-Director of the Summer Science Academy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Dr. Bowman has spent her career recruiting top-tier students to her program, and advising applicants on their own grad-school journeys.  She’s the author of the Materials and Methods blog, where she explores the grad school application process and the intricacies of scientific training.

In this episode, we explain what you can expect from a typical interview weekend, from booking your flight to making a plan for the NEXT weekend in your schedule.

On the way, we answer some burning questions:

  • Should I pretend that I want a career in academic science, or can I be honest about my career goals?
  • What kinds of questions will my faculty interviewers ask me?
  • What if I’m shy? How can I make it through dinner?
  • What is the dress code?
  • Should I go out to a bar or party with the current grad students?
  • How can I reschedule my interview if I have a conflict with another school?
  • And many more!

Though interviews make most applicants very nervous, just know that by getting the interview, you’ve received a great vote of confidence from the admissions committee.  

It’s expensive to purchase plane tickets, hotel rooms, and food, and to commit the time of faculty, students, and staff to your visit.  If they invited you to visit, they REALLY want you to choose their program!

You should feel proud!

Kick Back and Celebrate

And if you happen to need a bit of liquid encouragement, you can check out this week’s ethanol: Mad Elf Ale from Tröegs Brewing in Hershey, PA.  

It’s a festive, high-gravity beer brewed with chocolate and cherries (not Cheerios!) and will keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.  Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.