MFA Interview Tips

This video provides concrete tips on how to go about interviews for MFA programs in studio art. Covering the types of topics you will likely be expected to discuss, as well as logistical parts on how to handle the interview process. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Lauryn Welch.

Video Walkthrough

  • Most of these tips are applicable to any interview situation.
  • Practice speaking when you’re driving in the car by yourself.
  • Have an “elevator pitch,” summing up your studio practice in just 1 sentence.
  • The “elevator pitch” is succinct and to the point, yours will change over time and you’ll keep tweaking.
  • List of potential interview questions in Lesson 4 of our free MFA Track.
  • Writing an artist statement can help you organize your thoughts more.
  • How much should you know about art history and contemporary art?
  • You need to know where your artwork fits in the context of art history and contemporary art.
  • Know some contemporary artists you relate to who you can speak about in depth, they will ask you to name specific artists.
  • Have an awareness of what artists came before you in history.
  • A common question is to explain why you want to do an MFA.
  • The generic answer is to say that you want to teach at college level, and to be part of an art community.
  • You can say those things, but customize the answer so it’s specific to you.
  • How should you dress for the interview? You don’t need a business suit, but on the formal side is better.
  • You’ll be nervous during the interview, try speak more slowly than you think you should.
  • People often times talk too quickly when they are nervous.
  • Avoid filler words: “um,” “like.”
  • Leave space for the interviewer to speak, avoid monologues.
  • Try your best to make eye contact during the interview, it projects confidence and rapport.
  • You don’t have to make eye contact all the time, that gets awkward!
  • Be a good listener during the interview as well, show that you are listening and paying attention.
  • Stay present during the interview.
  • Don’t be late to the interview!!!
  • Being late can be a make or break situation, there’s very little excuse to be late.
  • At an interview people are on their best behavior, and if their best behavior is being late, that makes a bad impression.
  • A very common question is to name books you are reading.
  • The MFA programs are interested in who you are beyond your studio practice.
  • Avoid sarcasm, jokes about the school, or being critical of institutions and schools.
  • Don’t say anything negative about your undergraduate professor or program.