College Admissions Interview Tips
College interviews can provide you the opportunity to add extra dimension to your application. If the whole prospect of a face-to-face meeting gives you the jitters, relax! In contrast to many an applicant’s worst fears, the interviewer is unlikely to try to trip you up or ask you questions out of left field. Instead, the interviewer’s main purpose is to learn more about you than what is revealed through grades, recommendations, test scores and essays. Give yourself the advantage: Prepare your thoughts ahead of time, and bring along enthusiasm as well as an active curiosity about the school you are applying to.
The following tips are sure to help set you off on the right foot:
When possible, interview with your “likely” schools first in order to buff up your skills and comfort level before meeting up with your target or stretch choices.
Dress for success, which means arrive neatly dressed and comfortable. No need for suit and tie or pearls, but avoid sloppy tee shirts, jeans and flip flops.
Be punctual. Arrive early to campus to ensure parking and locating the assigned building. Time for a short walk around campus before your meeting can help to relax you. If you have a phone or Skype meeting call in at the exact time, preferably on a landline for the best sound quality and make sure there is no distracting background noise.
Learn your interviewer’s name and become familiar with it. At in-person meetings, ask for a business card and refer to it when you write your follow-up “thank you” note. Be sure to express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time as well as enthusiasm for the school.
Express why the school is attractive for you. Be able to do the same with regard to the program of studies you are applying to, tying into your involvements and accomplishments in high school. Bringing along a resume may be helpful but is usually not necessary.
Provide a picture of how the school can benefit by having you as a citizen of the community. Schools are interested in attracting a population of students who will enhance one another’s experience, so come ready to talk about what interests you to demonstrate how you may add to academic and campus life.
Be honest about your strengths as well as areas of challenge. What inspires you? What excites you? What do you need to succeed? If someone were to ask you how you have dealt with your challenges, what would you say?
Prepare a few questions covering things you want to know about the school or program, but always ask beyond the basics covered in the school viewbook or website.
Familiarize yourself a bit about extracurricular offerings on or off campus and be able to talk about these.
Be ready to talk about yourself through the eyes of others. What would your teachers say about you? What about your friends or parents?
Don’t expect any interview, whether one-on-one or a group format, to be a passive experience. Come ready to express yourself and ask questions! The goal of a successful interview, like the goal of a good education, is all about sharing and learning.
Marla Platt is a college consultant and academic coach through AchieveCoach College Consulting located in Sudbury, MA. Marla guides students and families throughout the college search and application process. She is also a long-standing alumni interviewer on behalf of Cornell University and is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.
Which of these interview tips do you find most helpful? Any questions for Marla?
Post your tips/comments below.