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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Skip to Interview

Iaroviz Tsao

Over the past three weeks, I have visited three universities for graduate school interviews. I applied to National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University, and National Cheng Kung University, and visited them in that order. Because I had never done this kind of interview before, I spent lots of time and skipped many courses so that I could look for information on how to prepare. Although I don’t know the results of my interviews yet, just going through the interview was a valuable experience.
My first interview was with the Master of Business Administration program at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei. There were two parts to the interview, and each part lasted only 5 minutes. During the first part, I was interviewed by two professors and in the second part by three professors. Most of their questions that they asked were about the resume which I had written in advance and brought with me to the interview. 

Illustrations by the author

The questions in the first part were:
l   Could you tell us a little about yourself? (Self introduction)
l   Why do you study so much English?
l   Have you read any books recently?
l   Have you taken any courses related to Econometrics?
l   What score do you think you would get if you retook the TOEIC?

The questions asked in the second part were:
l   Could you tell us a little about yourself? (Self introduction)
l   What topic do you want to research in the future?
l   Could you briefly talk about what are you doing in Toastmasters (a public speaking club that I belong to)?
l   What is your biggest weakness?
l   What did you learn from your department?
l   Could you recommend the most delicious food that could represent Taiwan?
l   Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Surprisingly, I was not nervous at all for this first interview experience. I kept my voice solid and clear, even though there were some questions that I didn’t answer completely. To be honest, I didn’t do a very good job in my debut. Therefore, I strengthened some of my weakness before my second school interview.

My second interview was with the Department of Science Management at National Chiao Tung University. Again, there were two parts to the interview, and each part would last about 5 minutes. I was interviewed by three professors first, and then by two professors later. These professors also asked questions related to my resume as well as questions about the courses I had taken here at Feng Chia University. I also gave a German self-introduction hoping it would impress the interview panel. This time I felt nervous because this was the closest I had ever come to studying at one of the best schools in Taiwan. Though I don’t know the outcome of the interview, I feel I did better than in the first interview.

The questions the panel asked in the first part were:
l   Could you tell us a little about yourself? (Self introduction)
l   In just a few words, sum up the most important thing you have learned from your college life.
l   What field do you want to study?
l   What’s the relationship between your major and our department?
l   Why are you learning German, and how long have you been learning the language?

The second part questions were:
l   Could you tell us a little about yourself? (Self introduction)
l   Why do you learn German?
l   Could you answer some accounting problems for us?
l   Could you tell me what you learned in quantitative financial analysis?
l   Could you tell us which statistics problem impressed you most?

My last interview was with National Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) Department of Management and Business Administration. Unlike the previous two interviews, there was only one part and three professors in the interview. Also, it didn’t last only 5 minutes. Most of the professor’s questions were from the resume that I had brought with me. Sadly, I had assumed that there would be only two professors, so I took only one resume with me. Embarrassed by the situation, I blurted out everything I could remember to express how much I would like to get into their program. Actually, I felt a bit ambivalent about NCKU because it is in my hometown and I never really considered it a top school. In the end, I directed the interview topics toward topics I was good at, and disarmed the embarrassing situation.

I remember that they asked me:
l   What additional information can you give us about yourself?
l   Which field do you want to study?
l   Do we have this field?
l   Is our department good at this area of study?
l   Why do you learn German?
l   How many years have you learned German?
l   Do you have any experience being a leader?

The more interviews I did, the more confident I grew. From this experience, I learned how to think and respond quickly to difficult questions. Each person has only a few minutes with the interview panel and, in that short period of time, you can quickly become either your own best friend or your own worst enemy. If you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to promote yourself, chances will not only pass you by, but it will seem that they are hiding from you. I worked hard before my interviews and prepared well. Although the result have not been announced yet, I feel the interview experience itself was a valuable one that will help me in the future, wherever I end up and whatever I end up doing.  


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