The Interview Starting Point _ The personal statement is also the starting point for many interview discussions and questions. When committee members sit down to interview an applicant, they often have just a few minutes to skim the application. Your personal statement/essay provides the perfect amount of information for them. They can pick out a few key points and use it as the starting ground for your interview. If this is the only part of the application that they may read, you need to make it perfect.
When you applied as an undergraduate, your personal statement probably didn't make much of a difference, because undergraduate admissions are heavily based on numbers (GPAs, test scores, etc). Graduate and professional school admissions are different! Your competitors will have grades and test scores similar to yours, because most people who have the motivation to pursue an advanced degree did well as undergraduate students. As the number of applicants rises and academic budgets are cut, every year there's more competition for fewer admissions openings. How does the committee determine that you have what it takes to succeed in advanced studies? You guessed it. Your personal statement will play a determining role in whether or not your application is successful. So you know you need to write the strongest, most persuasive personal statement you can. But here are two facts you may not know. First, most reviewers will spend only a couple minutes skimming your personal statement. Second, because their job is to weed out the majority of applications, reviewers are looking for reasons not to recommend you for admission.