Ask La Bricoleuse: What is the grad school interview like?

I've talked in earlier posts in the series about an interview as part of the application process. What does that mean?

Of course, I can really only talk about what we encourage our interviewees to plan for--other programs will have different expectations or requirements in a visit. Some will be similar to ours, and some quite different.

Here at UNC-Chapel Hill, we prefer to devote the whole day to one candidate--we do not interview in groups/batches (some places do this). Applicants invited to interview in person should plan to spend an entire workday (8am-5pm, M-F) on-site. This is not to say that we don't do "business as usual"--if there are meetings or fittings scheduled, those happen and the applicant is able to observe them.  

What does that whole day entail?

Upon arrival, after checking in with one of our faculty or staff (usually either myself, our Costume Director Triffin Morris, or our Assistant Costume Director Jenn Bayang), applicants sit in on classes with the current grad students, whichever courses are being taught the day of the visit. Usually, this winds up being two classes, an 8am or 9am class and a 10am or 11am class. Where possible, the visiting students participate in the coursework--so, if it is a draping class and the students are learning a particular technique in-class, the visitor is provided with a dress form and fabric and encouraged to drape along with everybody else. After classes, some of the current grad students take the applicant off to the student center for lunch together. 

In the afternoon, the applicant has a formal interview with Triffin and a bit more informal interviews/chats with myself, Jenn, and some of the other faculty and staff. They also have the opportunity to speak with the current grad students one-on-one, and peruse information like our compendium of course syllabi for all offered classes. Our Costume Director takes them on a complete tour of our facility, including our theatre spaces, storage and archive stockrooms, fitting and dressing rooms, etc.

Another event that happens in the afternoon is portfolio presentation, where the applicant has an opportunity to show their portfolio to the group. Unless there's some extenuating circumstance, we all attend that presentation--faculty, staff, and current graduate students. We often ask questions about the portfolio during or following the presentation, and about the candidate's goals and aspirations. 

If there's a show on our mainstage that evening, the applicant is given comp tickets to go see it, so they can get a look at our professional work in practice.

Hopefully, that provides a good overview of what to expect, and maybe a structure to go from when talking to other programs about visiting and what to plan for. 

I would love comments from other programs' participants, how your interviews/visits are structured!

Me, modeling Cami Huebert's advanced draping final project last spring


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