Thursday, February 23, 2012

Your interview

Non-U.S. applicants to SAIS Bologna have either heard or will be hearing from us soon about their interviews.

We have published a schedule of face-to-face interviews on our website:
  • Washington, DC: February 29, March 1
  • Vienna: March 2, 3
  • Paris: March 3
  • Istanbul: March 3
  • Athens: March 5
  • New York: March 5
  • London: March 5, 6
  • Lille: March 6
  • Bologna: March 6, 8, 12, 13, 14
  • Brussels: March 9
  • Frankfurt: March 10
If on your application you said you would like to be interviewed in one of these cities, you should have received or will very soon be receiving an email from Amina scheduling your session. Likewise, if you checked phone/Skype, you'll soon be receiving an email with the proposed date and time.

Not everyone can participate in a face-to-face interview. Our candidates this year come from 63 countries spread around the globe. It would not be fair to make them travel long distances to meet a member of our Admissions Committee.

Whether your interview is in person, over the phone or via Skype, it is a chance for you to put your best foot forward and to convince the interviewer -- more often than not a faculty member -- that SAIS Bologna is the right place for you and that it will benefit from your presence next year.

If you are preparing for your interview, a useful starting point is this post featuring Prof. Erik Jones.

What should you expect in the interview?
  • You'll be able to elaborate on your dossier, which the interviewer will have read. Why international relations? Why SAIS? Why Bologna and not DC? What sets you apart from the crowd? What can you bring to SAIS Bologna that is special?
  • You'll have a chance to discuss a current event. It won't be a quiz. It will be on a topic that arises naturally from your background and your application. There will be no right or wrong answer, just a chance for you to express a reasoned opinion.
  • You'll be able to ask questions about SAIS. Not questions, of course, that can be answered by checking our website. But more subtle questions that show that you have thought hard about what it would be like to study there.
By the way, as you prepare for your SAIS Bologna interview, you are developing skills that you will use for the rest of your life. A SAIS interview is not that different from a job interview. In both cases a few golden rules apply:
  • Be honest and straight-forward. Don't exaggerate. Be able to discuss your strengths and to acknowledge weaknesses and how you aim to address them.
  • The more you know about the institution, the easier it will be to convince the interviewer that you belong there.
  • When answering a question, try to find examples from your own experience that illustrate how you have handled situations. Generalities are not as gripping as specific examples of behavior.
  • Stick to the point at hand. If asked a question, answer it and don't wander too much. Keep your answers succinct. If you find yourself reaching for words, you're probably off track. If you don't understand the question, be sure to tell the interviewer.
Finally, a tip my children will recognize: Get a good night's sleep.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a note.

Nelson Graves

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