6 college interview tips to get you through, no sweat!

By Jennifer Jussel
10/13/2015
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As October creeps along, students are getting into the Halloween spirit. For high school seniors, application deadlines are lurking, and with them, college interviews. But don't get spooked! Millions of students have gone through the process and come out alive. Here are some college interview tips to help you survive.

1. The interviewers are people, too

Students get so caught up in their own nerves that they forget the people interviewing them might be nervous, too. Interviewers are not the pant-suited royalty you imagine them to be. They’re actually just normal people in normal, everyday clothing. They’re probably even sweating a little from being cooped up in their office all day with a bunch of nervous students. They understand that you’re trying to make a good first impression. But don't forget, not only are you trying to sell yourself to the school, the interviewers are trying to sell the school to you, too! 

2. Don’t list your résumé word-for-word, be original!

They already know that you were vice president of the National Honor Society and a member of the marching band for four years. They’ve already read your essays, too. You can — and in most cases, should — pull from those experiences for things to talk about, but this is your chance to elaborate, and insert your voice where you couldn’t before. And don’t pass up the opportunity to connect with the interviewer on a personal level, this will serve to keep you in their memory.

3. Practice, practice, practice

Being nervous before your college interview is totally fine! But if you want to avoid letting your nerves sabotage your interview, try practicing some responses beforehand. Think about what matters to you, why you want to attend the university or program, and where you could see yourself in 10 years. Of course, you can’t predict every question they’re going to ask you, but having some prepared, insightful answers is better than blanking and blurting out Pig Latin.

4. Dress the part for your college interview

Of course, it’s important to stay true to yourself no matter what, but what you wear says a lot about you to an interviewer before you’ve even had a chance to open your mouth. Dressing inappropriately sends major signals to the interviewer that you don’t actually care about the outcome of the interview. Business casual is the way to go.

5. Get a favorite book

... or work of art, or composer, or whatever it is they’re likely to ask you. Nearly every college interview checks to see that you’re well-versed in your subject of choice — be it for school or a career. If you don’t have a favorite book, it’s time to get one! For my college interview I was asked about my favorite book, and while I read all the time, I was stunned because I had never actually chosen a favorite. It’s imperative to think of these things before the interview to keep yourself from floundering!

6. Confidence is key

Confidence truly is key, not only for reducing stress, but also for making your answers more effective and meaningful. You don’t have to act like you’re the best person to ever set foot on campus, but you should believe that you deserve to be there, without a doubt! If you envision yourself doing well in the interview, those positive thoughts are likely to become reality. No slouching! You’ve got this!

After your nerves have settled and you've sent a thank-you card to your interviewer, use our Scholarship Match to help pay for the school of your dreams. Comment below and let us know how your interview went!

All images courtesy of Giphy.

About the author

Jennifer JusselJennifer grew up in suburban Austin, Texas where she managed to become a balanced mixture of weird, hipster, and nerdy. She now attends Trinity University where she studies music composition, psychology, and creative writing. During her free time, she volunteers with Alpha Phi Omega and Hope Hall.

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