Preparing for an MPA Admissions Interview

If you’ve committed to pursuing your Master’s in Public Administration, it’s important to know as much about the process as possible in order to ensure success. One step of the process is the admissions interview. The more prepared you are for this interview, the more relaxed you’ll feel and the more likely it is that the interview will go smoothly.

Preparation a Few Days in Advance

Review your application thoroughly a few days before the interview and one more time about an hour or so before it happens. You’ll refresh yourself on what you said before and you’ll be prepared to address specific talking points. It’s also to your benefit to conduct some background research about the professors in the program, particularly any professors you may want to work with directly. Knowing their research interests, for example, can lead to greater control of the interview on your side and show your commitment to learning as much as possible about the school before committing to attend.

Interview Attire

Whether you’re completing the interview in person or on video, dress professionally. After all, you’re interviewing for the opportunity to work with distinguished faculty and possibly even be considered for graduate teaching or research assistantships. Put your best foot forward with business attire.

Pitch and Language

Even when you’re practicing for the interview, use professional language. Think about your research interests and the reasons you are considering this school. Prepare an “elevator speech” (a 30-40 second explanation of your research and how you plan to do it). Don’t get bogged down in details. Your elevator pitch should include how you became interested in the research, what you’ve done to this point, and how you plan to tackle the project. Prepare in advance by thinking about what questions you might be asked in the interview and what “sound bites” you’re prepared to answer with. Keep answers concise. The better you know your topic and your goals, the easier you’ll find the interview process.

Video Chat and Video Interviews

Just because the interview is being conducted through a web application doesn’t mean you should be any less prepared or professional. Since you’re not there in person, stand out from the crowd and make sure your goals and plans come through. Don’t forget to maintain eye contact just as you would if you were meeting face to face, and make sure you don’t have any background noise or interruptions that could disturb the interview.

Common Interview Questions

Depending on the personalities of the staff and faculty on the interview, there are multiple directions these questions could go, but you should always be ready to answer a few core questions, such as: Why are you applying to this university? What are your goals after you receive your MPA? What have you done to prepare for this experience? Why do you think you’d make a good fit for this program/department/college/field? What are some of your accomplishments that have prepared you? Before your interview, don’t forget to take a deep breath and remind yourself of all the things you’ve done to this point; those accomplishments and your preparation will guide you through.

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