It is a great sign that you have made it to the interview process, but even though you have made it this far, the work is not finished yet. If you are wondering what this work entails, here are five tips for successful preparation for interviews at the MSA.
#1 Review Statistical Methods
This one is a no-brainer. In a program like this, statistics are the foundation of anything that you will learn. I can guarantee you that you will be asked about statistics in your interview. Any foundational statistical concept could be covered. For a solid overview of basic statistical concepts, I recommend looking at the Pre-Program Primer and Analytics Foundations sections, as outlined in the program curriculum on the IAA’s website. However, this doesn’t guarantee that you will be asked about these particular topics, especially if you’ve mentioned other statistical concepts in your application.
If the prospect of having to talk about statistics during your interview frightens you, let me assure you that the way you handle a difficult question matters. You’re not expected to know everything there is to know about statistics; what matters is the way you react to and recover from questions you’re unsure of. After all, the soft skills of a candidate are just as important as the technical skills, and your interview panel will consider that after your interview.
#2 Revisit Your Application Material
From personal experience (and after hearing from my peers at the MSA), it appears that faculty like to ask candidates about experiences that are specifically mentioned in application materials. Review your own material before your interview and make sure you’re able to answer questions about projects, job experiences, and/or programming languages that you’ve specifically mentioned. This is such an easy and important step to do that many people forget about in their preparation for an interview.
#3 Research the MSA
I found the Institute’s website to be incredibly helpful in my preparation for my interview, because it gave me a better feel for the culture at the Institute. You could look at things like:
- the Admissions Report
- the Employment Report
- the academic curriculum
- all the information about the project practicum
- this student blog
- additional news about the Institute.
Another great resource is the Institute’s YouTube channel. It is populated with content from faculty, staff, and alumni, describing their daily work and their experiences at the MSA. Doing this research will help you familiarize yourself with the faculty and staff beforehand, which can put you at ease before your interview. Your preparation will shine through in your interview and might also help you with my next tip.
#4 Prepare Questions for Your Interviewers
At the end of your interview, there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions about the program. I strongly encourage you to come up with some questions before the interview. You might think you could “wing” some of them, but you never know how nervous you will end up feeling. Having these questions ready will allow you to ask about factors that might influence your decision on which graduate school to attend. This is your chance to show your genuine interest in the program and to leave a lasting impression on your interviewers.
#5 Take A Deep Breath
You’ve made it this far. At this point, there is nothing more to be done. You’ve prepared well for this interview, and you will absolutely crush it. But most importantly, be yourself! An authentic candidate is always a good one!
With these tips in mind, all I can do for you now is wish you the best of luck with your interview. Your talents, experiences, and skills have led you here. This is your time to show your interview panel that you deserve a spot in the MSA Class of ’24. This program is truly one of a kind, and I hope you get the chance to become a part of it!
Columnist Kimberly Scheiber