When searching for the right master programme, many applicants will encounter an interview process with a selection committee. This gives both universities and the applicant the chance to see whether the programme is the right fit.
Professor Frank Jacob, who teaches marketing at the ESCP Berlin Campus, has a few tips that should help smooth the path towards getting a coveted study spot.
#1 Be authentic
“Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone else,” advises Prof. Dr. Jacob. It’s easy to see someone who is acting versus communicating with honesty and a sense of self.
#2 Good time management
Don’t be late and give yourself time for any unexpected delays. The selection committee usually has a tight schedule for selection interviews. If you waste time, you could miss your chance. ”Try to be at the agreed place five minutes early,” whether it’s on-site or online, advises Professor Jacob.
#3 Dress appropriately
If you are invited to an interview for a master’s degree, you should consider your choice of clothing as carefully as you would for a job interview. But it is also important to think about your own authenticity. “Dress the way you feel comfortable,” says Frank Jacob. “Choose the style of clothing that suits your personality, but make sure it is something which you would expect from a master candidate.” Applicants have to decide for themselves whether it is a jacket, blouse, tie, or jeans.
#4 Greet your interviewers properly
Even with a multi-member committee, you should observe the usual customs of formal presentations. Each jury member should be greeted with a handshake. Applicants should also look their interviewers in the eyes and, if possible, remember their names.
#5 Nervousness is normal
A little tense? No need to panic, because most people are typically anxious before an interview. Professor Jacob’s tip to applicants? “Don’t let your own nervousness worry you — it is normal and happens to everyone else too.” Interviewers know this. Also, keeping a positive mindset and going into the interview prepared should help calm your nerves.
#6 Have a goal in mind
“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” This question should not surprise any applicant — not even when it comes to a master’s degree. Practice the answers to some commonly-asked questions. “Be prepared to discuss a plan for your future,” says Jacob.
#7 Use your expertise
In addition to a strong personal impression, applicants can best score points with their specialist knowledge during the selection interview for a programme. “Bring your specialist knowledge to the table, even if a question is not obviously aimed in this direction,” recommends Professor Jacob.
#8 Allow discussions
Selection interviews are not just a question and answer session. It is about demonstrating your aptitude for an academic course of study. Your personal expertise, knowledge, and opinions are just as important to reveal and elaborate on in the interview. This is why, according to Jacob, it is important to “get involved in the discussion by accepting criticism and developing answers in dialogue.”
#9 Move forward with openness and confidence!
Anyone who is too reserved in the selection interview risks giving a bad impression. Professor Jacob’s tip: “Avoid the impression of appearing defensive! The aim of the interview is to demonstrate your ability to engage in constructive debate.” So keep your head up, look confident, and maintain an easy, straightforward demeanor. Such an approach should win you a lot of positive points.
#10 Any questions?
Always! If you go to an interview without asking your own questions, you often seem uninterested or unprepared. The same applies to the selection interview for a study program. “Prepare one or two questions of your own for the committee,” says Prof. Jacob. That shows commitment, thoughtfulness, and real interest in the topic.