The college interview is one of the final steps you’ll take toward application success. It’s also one of the most daunting. Whereas the essay gives you the opportunity to write and revise endlessly, the interview is a one-time deal. Follow the following five steps to impress your interviewer and make it count.
Practice makes perfect. Whether it is with a friend, parent or teacher mock interviews can be an extremely helpful tool in your interview preparation. Sure, you’ll know the answers to your mock-interviewer’s questions because you’ve done your homework but responding out-loud can be a challenge all its own.
Know Your School
You’ve already done the school research, now you just need to review everything. Perhaps not surprisingly, we suggest you start reviewing prior to the day of the meeting. Just as we would never recommend cramming for the SATs on the way to the testing center, we do not recommend cramming for your interview either – it will only make you more nervous during an already nerve-wracking experience.
Remember, this interview is about you, not how many school facts you’ve memorized. During your prep time, consider not only how you fit into the school’s academic and social atmosphere but also how you’ve come to be the charming and inquisitive person you are today.
It goes without saying that you must arrive to your interview on time. I strongly recommend taking it one step further, though, by arriving early. Gather your thoughts, sip on some water to safeguard against future cottonmouth, and take this time to remind yourself of the basics: Shake hand firmly, look the interviewer in the eye, smile on occasion, and show your enthusiasm for the school.
Again, this interview is all about you. Relax. Be yourself. You’re prepared. The interviewer is trying to get to know you. With that in mind, do not hesitate to elaborate. It’s always best to speak in complete sentences; you know that. But it’s even better to speak in many complete sentences. You must explain yourself. You think you’d be a great fit at a particular school, but why? You really liked a particular class or book in high school, but why? If you’re constantly asking yourself “why” the interviewer won’t have to; plus, you’ll come off as twice more self-aware than the poor sap before you that could only muster enough courage to respond with an awkward “because.”
Consider your interviewer. You’ll want to ask the interviewer a few informed questions for three fairly obvious reasons. The first is that it’ll reinforce that active curiosity you’ve been talking so much about. The second is that, to some degrees you’re interviewing the school. There will be questions or concerns that, for as much as you delved into the school’s website, have gone unaddressed. If you feel you’ve got all the information you could ever need, I still recommend asking at least a few follow-up questions. Finally, remember that this is a conversation you’re having with an actual person. This person wants you to ask questions, not only about the school itself but also about the interviewer personally. That’s just how pleasant conversations work.