Lets first think of a college interview, what is it really, why do they even bother to take the time and personally meet each applicant, and what kind of power a good interview has. You have probably conducted your own national college search, and already know your preferences. Colleges have interviews for one simple reason, it works, it works for them – some data shows them that the applicants they personally meet and talk with, on average, succeed in their programs and have been succeeding in their program for some time now. So they know it works. But what is “it”? the college interview is the “it”, and it is no different than a job interview.
The college interview was not thought of as a mean to intimidate potential students, to keep them away, to embarrass and humiliate the next graduates of this college, it is meant for one simple, and very important, reason – to meet and evaluate the motivation and potential of the young person applying to the college. And that’s all it is. There is nothing personal or evil in it, other from the fact these people want to know what you are made of and how serious you are. You need to think of it as a part of your campus tour.
So a college interview is basically like a thoughtful conversation with someone you never met before and that wants to know who you really are, what you went through in your life and where you are heading. But when talking to a stranger about this you can allow yourself to be casual and say some things that you can not say in a college interview, you have to think of how you want to present yourself, and how not to get dragged to the pleasing “tell me what I want to hear” mode.
Preparation will get you a long way, it is the absolute key in getting through the college interview successfully. There is no such thing as over preparing for this, and in fact, if you do this the proper way, you will need to tell yourself at a certain moment that its time to stop preparing.
Let’s go over some of the points in the preparation procedure, things you will want to look into while getting ready for your college interview.
Try and know who your contact is – a simple thing, try and get the name (or names of the persons) that will be conducting the interview, when you will start the interview you will have a nicer way to present yourself and greet the interviewers than most applicants do. It will also show that you prepared in advance and that you are serious about getting this position, this will set you off in the right tracks. When you do your initial national college search, you can also look for the contacts interviewing applicants. No potential harm here. Only good can come out of this one.
Research – can I stress this enough? College interview success – research, research and more research. Lets ask ourselves one basic questions, if someone wants to get into his favorite spot team (any position) will he (or she) not know the names of past hero’s? The teams greatest moments? Its accomplishments? Or course the candidate will know. And you need to show that you are the same, your motivation and enthusiasm to get in to this program will shine when you provide enough evidence to prove you know everything there is to know about the place itself. Ways to get information, research the college web site, search engines for other information, people name search will give you some knowledge about the teachers and their accomplishments, any publications of the college itself are also good. If you are reading this while doing your national college search, you can enjoy the opportunity to add something to your list. Even the ordinary campus tour can give you a chance of finding a little more about the place.
In researching the college you can study materials of the college. College’s course book online, find interesting questions regarding the courses. Some students seem to think that asking questions at the interview might seem presumptuous, but in fact it makes you seem interested and sophisticated. Here are some questions you might consider asking The programs you might be interested in majoring in, construction on the campus and new facilities, financial aid, How the school treats AP tests, how they compare this college with national colleges, the campus tour, school advising, ask interviewers about their opinion of the school, what they like best, and why the courses are better than in other places (no example or names, just say other places).
Your answers – take a look at our “college interview questions” section to familiarize yourself with the potential questions you may face, and practice with family member or friend, keep answers short and sweet, know what you are saying and do not get too personal. Talk slowly, and think about each question before you answer, even if you have been practicing for this particular question for the past two months. Never cut someone when they are talking, not even if you are extremely excited about your answer.
Promoting yourself – think about a few strong points you got, and that you want the interviewer to remember about you, no need to mention these in every answer, but three or four times (with reference – “as I already told you, I think I am very good at managing people… that’s why I took the school paper publishing project”). If you have a problem identifying traits you want to promote – read your resume or application form again carefully and mark the points you think are worth focusing on. You can also try and add some humor to the interview, say something about the campus tour, and your impression of the college.