Tips for the College Interview

College Interview

By Suzan Reznick, College Connection
05/06/2015
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Preparation, preparation, preparation!

• Students should make the phone calls themselves.  If possible, schedule the interview 2 or 3 weeks in advance and confirm your appointment the week of the interview.

• It is important to study the school by means of its catalogue and online resources so you can respond to the interviewer’s questions and ask intelligent questions of your own.

• Arrive early, especially for an on-campus interview, as it is very easy to get lost on a large college campus.  Plan on touring the campus, as well as attending the information session before your interview.   You will then be in better position to ask and answer their questions.

• Dress reasonably well - good grooming and neatness count!  How you are dressed reflects how important this interview is to you.  NO chewing gum or baseball caps, and turn off your cell phone!

•A firm handshake expresses confidence.  Stand up straight and make eye contact.  Try not to fidget – speak in complete sentences omitting slang expressions especially the word “like”, “You know” or “um”. Stop and think before you speak. Listen carefully to the questions asked, and express your ideas clearly.

• Express enthusiasm for the school, both when asking and answering questions, as well as during the discussion.  The likelihood that you would attend the school, if admitted, can actually impact on your chances of acceptance.  You are not on trial.  This interview is for your benefit as much as it is for the admissions office.

• Be honest. Don’t pretend. Don’t try to guess the “right” answer Feel good about yourself and try to convey that feeling to the interviewer. You can be positive about your accomplishments without sounding conceited

• The interview is designed to help the school search for personal qualities that would ensure the interviewer that “you can play well with others”, and would likely become a congenial and productive member of the college community.

• Remember that you are the center of attention, so try to enjoy yourself.  Focus on being open and sincere.  Be yourself.  Remember not to answer the interviewer’s questions with one-word responses - do not make him/her work too hard to learn about you!  On the other hand, try not to ramble on with too many unnecessary details because of your nervousness.

Be prepared for the following most commonly asked questions:

1) Why do you want to attend this school?  How will we help you to achieve your goals?
2) What do you plan on studying/majoring in?  Why?
3) Who are you?  Tell me about yourself?  What are your goals?  Dreams?
4) What books have you read lately?  (Try not to discuss a book you read for school.  It’s a rare fellow who reads Great Expectations for leisure.) Interviewers want to see if you have a naturally curious mind and that you enjoy learning outside of school. It can be helpful to bring with you a favorite book- it can get the conversational ball rolling.
5) What contributions can you make to the school?
6) What questions can I answer for you? (This is especially important because it is one of the most genuine opportunities for you to learn about the school from someone who knows.  To have questions in mind also demonstrates your enthusiasm for the school.) In any awkward silences, just ask the interviewer why he likes the school so much. Did he go there and what did he get out of it?

• Everyone who has sat in that chair, for generations before you, has been nervous.  It is expected.  Take a deep breath, and perhaps even tell the interviewer “I’m nervous.”  It will enlist him or her to your side.

• Make frequent eye contact, and try not to look in pain/discomfort.  It is a discussion, not dental work. 

• During the interview, remember that while you are trying to sell yourself to the school, the interviewer is trying to sell the school to you.  The ultimate point of the interview is to show that you are a good person - polite, and honest with a sense of humor about this unnerving admissions process.  To do this effectively you have to be yourself.

• Make sure you have the necessary information to send a “personalized” thank you note, card, or email.

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