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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Successful Interview Day: Expectation Meets Preparation

With UCSF Admission Interviews around the corner, I know (well, I hope) many of you are preparing for this phase of the process. [Or will you show up having given no thought or dedicated no preparation time to it? Hmmmm..... scary. I think back on past interview days and remember some applicants that were so unprepared for the day, I wonder if they ever were admitted to any pharmacy program. ]

To help you get started, I've created a list of what you can expect (Expectation) along with what YOU can do to prepare (Preparation)!

Here goes....

Expectation: We've assigned you a specific check-in time.
Preparation: You shouldn't plan on checking in earlier than the time indicated on your invitation letter. We have built in some extra time for you to relax a bit before the Welcome Session. Don't be the person who tries to check in two hours early, only to have to sit there for two hours waiting.... Use extra time to visit the campus, walk through the library, get a snack, etc.

Expectation: It will be a long day.
Preparation: Get a good night's sleep. You will have 364 other days of the year to stay up late. Make sure you are well rested.

Expectation: Your interview "day" should last about 7 hours (welcome session, essay, interview, chat room, financial aid session, tour).
Preparation: Make travel arrangements to accommodate the time frame you've been provided. Expect to be on campus for the entire period of time. Rushing in for your interview and rushing out says a lot about your desire to be a part of our community.

Expectation: Some applicants will be completely and totally nervous. Some will be so frazzled, they won't even be able to see straight.
Preparation: Get in your own zone -- so that that nerves and lack-of-preparation by others doesn't negatively impact your experience.

Expectation: San Francisco is a crazy place and the traffic is sometimes messy.
Preparation: Visit the campus the day before your interview and map out a plan to ensure you have plenty of time to get to campus on the day of your interview.

Expectation: This is a professional interview.
Preparation: Dress for success. You won't get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Expectation: Nothing has changed in the instructions you were provided in your interview invitation.
Preparation: Review those instructions again. In fact, print out and bring with you! (Just in case you need to refer to it.)

Expectation: There may be a last-minute change that will impact you.
Preparation: Be flexible -- it's an important characteristic in a pharmacist!

Expectation: We have assigned you a specific check-in time.
Preparation: Plan to check in at the designated time. If you are early, visit the library, or head to the food court and grab some coffee. Checking in earlier doesn't speed-up-your interview.

Expectation: You will be required to show proof-of-identity at check-in.
Preparation: Bring official photo ID with you (driver's license or passport!). Or will you be the person that forgets to bring it this year?

Expectation: The Admissions Staff will be on-site all day.
Preparation: Introduce yourself! We'd like to put a face to a name.

Expectation: You will be required to complete an on-site essay.
Preparation: Bring several writing tools (pens) that you are comfortable with.

Expectation: You might be asked questions about your experiences and background.
Preparation: Spend quality time thinking about potential questions and possible responses. Don't be rehearsed, be prepared.

Expectation: Although it's technically an "interview" -- we'd really like to consider it a "conversation" and an "experience."
Preparation: Be prepared to engage in a conversation and learn from the experience. That means asking questions, too!

Expectation: We will provide a light lunch.
Preparation: If you require a specific food item, it might be best to bring it with you. We will have a variety of snacks in the chat room in addition to a light lunch.

Expectation: You will be in various rooms throughout the day.
Preparation: Bring a small bottle of water to keep you hydrated as you move through the day, although we will have water available.

Expectation: You will have the opportunity to meet with current student pharmacists.
Preparation: Be prepared to ask them questions and get to know them. This is just as much a chance for you to get to know us as it is for us to get to know you!

Expectation: You may want to jot down some notes or important information throughout the day.
Preparation: We will provide you with a folder and some materials. You will be able to take this home with you. You do not need to bring a folder or portfolio with you.

That's all I can think of now. If something else comes to mind, I'll add to the list.


Anonymous said...

I print out everything that Joel writes. Is this normal? Haha...

Anonymous said...

Joel, about the onsite essay expectation, if we prepare by bringing pencils, does that mean we are allowed to write our essay IN pencil? THAT is actually my preference, as you can erase something that was ill worded and rephrase many things, and until proof of the contrary (unless, of course the use of a white out is allowed), you don't have that opportunity with a pen....45 minutes MAY BE plenty of time to come up with a thoughtful essay in one straight try, BUT extra protection like an eraser complementing and companioning your pencil is always helpful, since you don't want to cross OR EVEN scribble something you wrote down with an ink pen, as the people who review the essay might be left wondering,especially with a scribble: what was he trying to hide from us?

Joel W. Gonzales said...

Dear Anonymous #2:

In short, I believe you are asking "Can we use pencils?"

Answer: We ask that you use a pen. I've edited the original post to eliminate the word "pencils". We will provide scratch paper and ask that you simply draw a line through any changes/deletions/edits on the actually essay form.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joel,

Thanks for very informative blog; I personally find your blog is really helpful. By the way, abou tthe on-site essay, Is there any way that you could be prepared for it?

Anonymous said...

What are the 5 top things that you would NOT say in an interview?

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