By Mercedes Zoeteman
I am sure that interview preparation is different for everyone, but here is some insight into my own preparation techniques. I hope this is helpful and Good luck!
Refresh yourself on the basics of genetic counseling
Interviewing can be a scary thing, but don’t forget the basics! Watch the mock GC sessions on NSGC, read some blogs about genetic counseling – Maps&Genes is a good one – and stay updated about genetics in the news. I remember looking at the NSGC website before my interviews just to give me a piece of mind that this is indeed the career for me and that I knew the relative scope of practice for a GC.
Lastly, brainstorming some ethical issues that may arise in genetic counseling can also be helpful to get yourself in the GC mindset.
Research the Program
Some programs may ask you what initially drew you to the program specifically. A few of us found it helpful to go through each program website we were interviewing at and writing down specific things that stood out for that program. This looks different for everyone, so this is not an exact list about what you should focus on.
But some find location to be important, others think about what type of rotations are available, exposure to experts in the field, etc. Start a list! Also, if you haven’t noticed, GC’s love lists (well not all, but a lot of us are Type A so that’s why).
Reflect on your experiences volunteering, shadowing, etc.
One thing I can say is that most interviews asked about prior shadowing and volunteer experiences. They would ask about the toughest case you shadowed, or the most difficult crisis call you had to take and how did you deal with it? Learning to reflect about your experiences is something that is so critical as genetic counselors, so be prepared to have some examples in mind!
Also, think about yourself as an individual. Where do you think you might struggle as a genetic counselor? What do you have difficulties with now? What are your strengths? How would you describe yourself in 3 words? I remember going through the answers in my head before the interview to help me feel prepared for these types of questions.
Have questions prepared!!
I’m sure this has been mentioned before but during every mini interview you go to, the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them. Remember that you are interviewing the program just as much as the program is interviewing you. I would recommend coming prepared with some questions mind.
What someone looks for in a program is different for everyone, so please think about what is important to YOU and come up with questions that will help answer whether or not each school provides that for you.
For me, as I applied for grad school right out of my undergraduate education, I did not have a ton of experience with interviewing in an academic or professional setting. One way that was helpful for gaining confidence in myself was to have a couple different practice interviews with either loved ones or individuals I respected. I personally asked a family friend if she was willing to practice interview me beforehand, just so I had an idea about what to expect.
I gave her a list of potential questions (I browsed online for these to be honest, and thought of some of my own). She also added in some of her own as well. Personally, this gave me a lot of confidence before going into the interview. She was able to provide me with some suggestions and a brief pep talk before the interview.
So, ask an aunt, a GC that you have shadowed, or even your significant other, whoever! I’m sure most individuals will be willing to help you out.
What to wear
Business wear, 110%. Remembering last year, most women I interviewed with wore a blazer and either a skirt/pant/blouse combo, or a dress. Tights were usually worn if you had bare legs. Also, it is still slightly cold in Greensboro at this point so I would recommend wearing tights too.
I wore flats to my interview because the thought of tripping and falling in heels was too much pressure. But you do you! If you can wear pumps and feel awesome, then do so. For the men, most of them wore a suit and a button-down shirt and some sort of dress shoes.
Going into interviews I had two separate outfits to wear, and truthfully, I only wore one of them. But when it comes down to it, wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident!
Don’t freak out.
My first interview at a GC program was less than stellar, and quite frankly I believe it was the same for most interviewees. I remember on the way to the interview my tights ripped, I was shaking entering into the building, and to be quite truthful, I think I tried a little bit too hard. I believe I was trying to be someone that I was not, in hopes that I would get into the program.
And very quickly throughout the interview process, I realized that the only person you need to be is YOU!
Be humble and be honest about yourself. The UNCG program really values transparency, and being wholeheartedly genuine, and that’s all we can ask you as applicants.
You’ve worked so hard to get here, so be confident in that! Oh, and practice self-care during interview season, it’s so important!