Practicing speech-language pathology requires a Master’s degree, so aspiring SLPs need to go through the graduate application process to pursue a career in the field. That can be a daunting task, particularly when it comes to interviewing for graduate programs. And the interview stage is where Jordan McLaren, a recent graduate from St. Cloud State University, currently finds herself on her journey to becoming an SLP.
Jordan returned to The Missing Link for SLPs podcast this week to share how she’s been preparing for her upcoming interviews. Those in the process of applying for grad programs can learn from her strategies and utilize them to put their best foot forward when making their first impression.
Practice Your Interview Skills
Like any other skill, interviewing is something that takes practice. Not everyone has a handle on how to present themselves during a professional interview, and even those who count themselves as outgoing may need to prepare for certain questions and situations they don’t typically come across.
If there’s someone in your household willing to take on the role of the interviewer, it can be useful to rehearse an interview, cycling through questions with that person. Jordan does this with her roommates, but it can be just as effective with a parent, friend, or spouse.
Searching online for programs that mimic one-on-one interviews can also be an effective means of practicing your skills — and this, of course, won’t require anyone else’s time or cooperation.
Even if it’s just practicing in the mirror, the important thing is refining your responses and how you deliver them.
Research Common Questions
Every interview is different, but many of them feature common questions. For example, just about every speech student applying for a graduate program can expect to be asked about his or her experience, as well as why this particular program seems like the right fit.
By researching which interview questions tend to crop up during the application process, you’ll be able to prepare your answers in advance and ensure you aren’t caught off guard. Of course, striking a balance between going in prepared and staying authentic is equally as important.
Let Your Passion Shine Through
So, how can you remain authentic and practice answering interview questions ahead of time? By making sure you’re allowing your personality and passion for the field to shine through!
Doing research and practicing interview skills is useful when it comes to outlining what you want to talk about. However, you don’t need to sound like you’re reading from a script to hit all of the points you want to hit. Once you have an idea of what you’d like to discuss with the interviewer, try to get those points across in a way that feels right for you.
Do the Introspective Work
Believe it or not, one’s mindset plays a huge role in the interview process. That’s why doing introspective work can help so much, especially for students who struggle with a fear of failure.
Jordan herself has been doing mindset work to combat her discomfort with sitting with her own silence, something that could affect her interview approach. If there’s something like this you feel you need to address, finding a way to confront and overcome it will help you well beyond your graduate interview.