The In-Person Interview: How To Go In Prepared
NOTHING WILL HELP ADMISSIONS OFFICIALS get to know you better than the face-to-face interview. Your job is to make sure that’s a GOOD thing!
We won’t bother telling you to stay relaxed. You’ll probably be a little nervous. But you can help alleviate some of that anxiety by preparing. That means practicing answers to some of the most common questions applicants are asked. These include things like:
• Why do you want to attend our school?• What makes you a good fit for us?• What makes you unique?• What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?• What would you say is your biggest fault?
Be prepared to do some interviewing of your own. You want to let the college know that you’re interested in finding the best college for you—just like they’re interested in finding the best students for their school. A typical interview takes 30 to 60 minutes and is usually conducted by an admissions officer though a student or alumnus could do it. If you’re lucky enough to get a current or former student feel free to ask some nonacademic questions to get an inside scoop. Questions like “What fraternity has the best reputation?” or “What’s the most popular class?” or “Which dorm is best?” are appropriate (unless you make it sound like you’re only looking to party!).
Many schools will not require an interview at all. But if you feel like your personality can outshine a less-than-stellar GPA or SAT score an in-person meeting could be your saving grace.
According to the College Board an interview is rarely the deciding factor in the admissions decision. With that said an interviewer has the authority to write a letter supporting admission of the student. If you’re serious about attending the school make sure that your eagerness comes across in the interview.
Moreover according to the 2011 State of College Admission report published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling 23 percent of colleges consider a student’s “demonstrated interest” in attending that school of “considerable importance.”
Most of the “rules” for your college interview are (hopefully) common sense. Be punctual. Dress nicely. Be honest and respond naturally. Be polite. Ask some questions to show you’re interested and have done your homework. Sit up straight and show confidence without being cocky.
And since college is about stepping out on your own don’t take your parents to the interview. They might make you more nervous and nothing says “apron strings” like Mom and Dad sitting in the lobby. Assert some independence and tell them this is something you need to do on your own. Then gather up your courage enthusiasm and sparkling personality and go wow the interviewer!