When you are scheduled to interview with a school or program, chances are you will feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Although it may seem like your interviewer is one with all the power, they are actually in an uncomfortable position as well. They need to make a good impression and sell their program to you, the applicant. Therefore, most interviewers will want to develop a rapport with you during the interview process.
Prior to meeting you, the only information they will know are your grades, test scores, that Dr. X recommends you for the program, and any information you share in your personal statement. Since discussing why you got a ‘C’ in Organic Chemistry is unlikely to build much rapport, many interviewers will use your personal statement for topics of conversation. Knowing this, you can use your personal statement to your advantage by loading it with little tidbits about your skills and character that you would like to discuss further during your interview. You may wish to showcase traits like compassion, professionalism, or leadership skills.
If you decide to use your personal statement as a tool to drive your interview, keep the following in mind:
- Provide Evidence. Although you may have a particular quality or skill, it will not be believable if you simply provide an assertion without proof. For example, instead of saying that you have excellent leadership skills, talk about the projects you organized with your student organization.
- Make it interesting. Interviewers are unlikely to ask you to elaborate further on a topic that they find boring. Become a storyteller and engage your audience as you write your personal statement.
- Don’t over-do it. Although you likely have numerous positive qualities, you should not list them all in your personal statement. Doing so will result in a tedious read and make you seem arrogant. Instead, choose no more than 3 attributes that you will highlight in your essay.