Are there things a student should never say during a college interview?
You should focus on being honest and sincere, not on canned answers.
An interview is a professional contact, and you should treat it as such. It’s good to be personable, but not too personal. Unless you feel very strongly about sharing any personal problems and have thought deeply about how to present them, it’s usually best not to address issues such as alcohol or substance abuse, eating disorders, or emotional health challenges.
Keep your discussion positive. If you’re asked to talk about your challenges, show your maturity by taking responsibility for them and demonstrating self-reflection; don’t blame your shortcomings on your teachers, parents, or society.
It’s also not very impressive to tell an interviewer you want to attend their school because you like the weather, the party scene, or the because you’ve heard the campus is full of hot men/women.
When preparing for a college interview, students never know what to expect and that makes sense because you never do know what to expect from an interview. All interviewers are different, has their own style and may test you in ways that you never thought of. Best thing that any student can do is to maintain their composure at all times and make sure that anything they say or do or any way they behave that they wouldn’t mind the entire board of admission seeing or hearing that interview as a whole. For example, if an interviewer for any reason start cursing, that does not give the student license to curse as well. So therefore,if that’s not something that you deem appropriate then you certainly do not partake in that.
And another thing students do during interviews are ask questions that are answered everywhere in the college literature. Even in this age of technology, colleges seem to be producing countless numbers of books and publications about their college and have a statistics and everything they can possibly front to try to get the best candidates to apply. Make sure you read those before the interview and make sure you don’t ask any of the questions that are already answered within that literature. All that does is show the interviewer that you have not done your homework and therefore you don’t care enough about the school to do your homework about the school before the interview.
Next is a student asserts that he or she is very passionate about any subject. It’s best to make sure that you can back that up with examples and that you’re on top of anything having to do with that particular subject. For example, once a student mentioned how interested she was in politics and an interviewer then asked her a rather obscure question that one would – anyone who would be as interested as she claimed to be in politics would know the answer to. This occured during a political race. The interviewer happened to read the newspaper that morning and happened to pick up a few facts about what was going on and casually mentioned it to the student and in that case the student was able to appropriately answer or respond to the interviewer’s query. Make sure you know what you’re talking about.
Finally, perhaps the worst thing a student can do during an interview is not ask questions. Asking questions shows interest. If a student cannot think of anything to ask about a school, then that means they’re not thinking about the school. Obviously, they can’t possibly be experts of that school, therefore there you can’t know everything there is to know about that school, therefore they must have questions about something. The best thing students can do is to make sure that they go into an interview equipped with piqued curiousity and lots of questions and make sure they that get some answered during an interview. So yes, definitely, students should sensor themselves to some extent during interviews and be careful about what they say.
Yes! Don’t say you don’t really like the school but your mom is making you apply. Do not ask questions you should know the answers to: size of the college, the majors the college offers, or if they have a bungee jumping club. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, know the answers to these!
Beyond the hopefully obvious things like telling someone that you don’t really want to be there or you have no real interest in the school, but are only applying to please your parents, etc., there are no areas that are necessarily out of bounds. Indeed, the old truism about not talking politics or religion with people you don’t really know is not even applicable, for such issues can lead to thoughtful discussions which, given the academic context of the process, can make for a positive impression. Regardless of the nature of the interview, never forget that it offers an opportunity to make a good impression and expand on some of the things previously shared in your application. Share your passion and let the interviewer know what matters to you. Show yourself to be a thoughtful individual who will be a positive addition to the school community.
There are a few things that could really turn off an interviewer, and most of them have to do with you saying things that offend or scare him or her. Avoid religious discussions unless you are applying to a religious school. Avoid politics also, because here’s another place where you can easily offend. Also, don’t ask an interviewer to compare their school to another, as in “Are you a better school that XYZ for pre-med?”. And most importantly, don’t use the interview to confess your deepest secrets or to share that you have recently tried to take your own life or that you just recently left rehab. While these things may have been a major influence on your life, they are something that should be shared with a medical professional, not some college interviewer. Talk about who you are, but spare the gory details.
No foul or sexually explicit language, and don’t mention other colleges or make comparisons!
Never disparage other colleges.
Do not ask IF the interviewer likes the school. Obviously they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be either working for the school or giving up their time to interview you on behalf of the college. Do not compare the school to another one–concentrate on talking about what interests you at the college and how you can add to the campus. Do not talk about your latest romantic entanglements or the last party you went to. Keep everything on a friendly, “professional” level.
The addage is true…you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So, you want to go into your interview with a positive and confident attitude. You want to avoid being negative, both about your own performance and/or interests and, naturally, about the school and other schools. You don’t want to put down other colleges or programs. You also don’t want to criticize your parents or teachers. Saying you got a bad grade because the teacher didn’t know what she was doing or that you can only apply to a few schools because you’re parents don’t want you going to far or can’t afford other options will not make a good impression. Similarly, you don’t want to rave about other schools. One of the goals of the interview is to show your sincere interest in the school. If you say you’re applying as a safety or because another school you like better is too far away or too small, it doesn’t make the school you’re with feel like you really want to be there.
A student should try not to say things that display a lack of basic knowledge of the college. Additionally, they should try not to be conceded or entitled. Those are big turnoffs for most interviewers.
Years ago, the late George Carlin made waves by releasing 7 Dirty Words you are not allowed to say on TV. If you are applying to a college or university, whether or not English is your first language or not, I’ll bet you know what words I mean. In short, do not curse and refrain from using words that some may even consider inappropriate like “sucks” or “blows” because more than being offended, the interviewer will conclude that you are not verbal enough to convey this message without sounding like a pirate.
Basically, if they are words you would not use around small child or an elderly person, then leave them in the locker room. This is just a good rule of thumb for any professional situation.
You also want to be objective and thoughtful without sounding negative. In other words, an interviewer may ask your opinion on a controversial issues. From your response, they are more interested in your insight and thoughts as opposed to your actual stance.
Don’t compliant and don’t blame others for your own mistakes.
Don’t tell the admissions office that your are planning to figure things out in college in terms of what you needed and what resources you suppose to have.
Don’t use your friends as an example for you to apply the same school.
Whether interviewing with a university’s employee or an alumni, remember that they love their school! Nothing sinks an interview faster than a lack of interest. “I’m applying here as a backup” or “because my dad made me” indicates you are unlikely to attend, even if admitted. Lack of interest also shows if you ask questions that easily would have been answered by looking at the school’s website before your interview. Finally, “Do I really need to study?” and “Yeah, I’ve got an easy senior schedule,” are comments that speak volumes about your lack of interest in higher education overall.
I do alumni interviews for my alma mater, and I’m always turned off when a student admits to knowing next to nothing about the school. It happens much more often than you’d imagine. The rise of the common application has made it much easier to apply to a large number of schools, and inevitably the students who are least prepared for the interview are the ones applying to twenty schools!
Before your interview, scour the school’s website for programs/classes/clubs/dorms/sports that interest you and ask for more information from your interviewer. You are applying to the place after all, and I’d hope you’ve done at least a little research to know if it’s a good fit. For example, my alma mater doesn’t offer a business major. If you’re looking at business as a major, you need to be looking elsewhere for a school that meets your needs.
Interviews DO matter in the admissions process for selective schools so don’t take them lightly. Use the opportunity to exhibit yourself “beyond the numbers,” but also don’t forget that it’s an opportunity for you to get personalized information about the school. Good luck!
It all comes down to common sense. Use your good judgment when it comes to the words that you choose. But in case your common sense eludes you during times of stress, try to keep these things in mind.
Don’t bad-mouth other high schools or colleges.
Don’t bad-mouth other applicants.
Don’t tell your interviewer that they represent your “safety school.”
Don’t lie about your accomplishments.
As someone who has conducted countless interviews for my alma mater, Brown University, I can say that there are a few items a student should not say. One is to talk in excess about the virtues of attending a university other than Brown! It’s amazing how easy it is to tell if a student’s interest is genuine! I would also be rather offended if a student spoke negatively of his or her schools or family. Some joking is okay, but outright badmouthing is absolutely something to avoid. I always like when students come prepared with questions for me. It shows that they thought about the interview (and hopefully the school) beforehand and might reveal something about the student’s personality. That said, students should avoid any questions that are overly personal. As important as what not to say is to act polite, upbeat and respectful in the interview.
Just slow down! Often, we have trouble thinking before we speak. In interviews you get nervous and can blurt something out. In our fast-paced multi-tasking world it is hard to find the time to reflect on what we say before we say it. Of course, Making Conversation has a natural proclivity to promote conversation. But speak with care and be Front Porch Friendly. Stop yourself before you say anything that would be untrue, unkind or even unnecessary, if it could generate a negative reaction from the listener. Remember, once said, something can never be unsaid.
People may forget what you said, what you did, what you wore, what the report looked like, who you worked for before, but they almost always seem to remember how you made them feel, especially if you say something that’s not quite right, even if it’s unintentional. Make them feel good. When you wonder should I? Shouldn’t I? Just don’t. You can also use my ethics guidelines assessment, If it were to appear on the front page of the newspaper in photo format, would it need an explanatory caption? I like to call it tempered honesty. You need not be totally and brutally honest in all communications. With a nod to Colonel Nathan R. Jessep from A Few Good Men, consider whether the listener need “handle the truth”? It is not your obligation to state your opinion of everything to everyone. It often counter-productive to tell the brutal, uncensored truth as you see it, particularly as it applies to your prior employer.
Want to know how to figure out what you should and shouldn’t say? In any communication, you usually don’t know what happened before they encountered you in person, on the phone or in an e-mail. Consider testing the waters and if you have a hesitation or concern about saying something, refrain from it. Content can be read in different ways depending on context and unless you have a solid relationship built on open communication, you may not truly “be there” to help explain its meaning. This applies most often when you are checking on the status of a job opportunity.
Ask yourself, “Is it True, Is it Kind, is it Necessary, (and I would add as a modifier to Necessary, is it “Worthwhile”)? This is a modification to Socrates requirement that it pass through the three sieves of truth, good and necessity. Quakers believe in the Spiritual power of Silence, to speak means that what you say is worth breaking the silence to speak. “Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?” – Shirdi Sai Baba.
Never say, “My parents want me to go here”. That will get you a big rejection on the admission application. Another no-no: don’t say you want to go there because it’s a party school.
Just as there are a lot of things that would be good to say in an interview, there are probably just as many that should never be said.
On the top of my list would be: “I really want to go to School X, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get in or not, so I’m just putting your school (School Y) on my list as a safety.”
Just as there are a lot of things that could be good to say in an interview, there are probably just as many that should never be said.
On the top of my list would be: “I really want to go to another school (School X), but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get in or not, so I’m just putting your school (School Y) on my list as a safety.”
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