Although most colleges don’t require an interview, there are many benefits of sitting down one-on-one with a college admissions officer. Interviews allow students to show colleges that they are more than just test scores and grades. You get to display your unique personality, conversational style, and enthusiasm for the school. In addition, interviews are an opportunity to ask questions and learn about schools from knowledgeable reps, so you can be sure the college is a good fit.
But… interviews are scary! After all, you get one chance to show the school who you are and how you behave!
It’s true that you only get a small (usually 30-minute) window of time for your interview, but this doesn’t mean that the whole event is a one-shot-deal. In this blog entry, I will offer a few tips to help you prepare for the interview in advance. Following this, I will list some common college interview questions. I hope that this information keeps you from feeling too jittery on interview-day!
Practice for the Interview in advance!
— Look over the list of common interview questions below. Can you answer every one of them comfortably and conversationally?
— Do NOT wait to look at the questions until the night before the interview. You should leave yourself ample time to think deeply about and practice answering every question, so you don’t feel “put on the spot” on interview day!
— Do NOT practice by writing down and memorizing answers to each question. You don’t want to sound like a robot!
— Anticipate follow up questions whenever possible.
— Remember, you’re talking about yourself–a topic you presumably know well. No matter what the interviewer asks you, you already know the answer. It’s just a matter of figuring out the best, most impressive way to say it.
Schedule Interviews Strategically:
— If you’re going to fumble, it will probably be in your first couple of interviews. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to interview with your lowest-choice schools early on, saving interviews with the schools you’re most interested in for last.
— Some students even schedule interviews with schools they have NO interest in–just for practice!
“Does your high school record accurately reflect your ability?“
Thinking about the Best Way to Explain Variations in Your Record:
— Dreaded by some, welcomed by others, this common interview question is likely to come up. Be careful when answering–you don’t want to sound like someone who can’t take responsibility for a bad grade.
— That said, if poor performance really can be attributed to extenuating circumstances (such as a death in the family, parents’ divorce, or your own medical condition) you should let the college know.
— You might also take this as an opportunity to discuss why you persisted in subjects that are especially challenging for you.
— Don’t be afraid of being honest! It’s OK to say something like, “I didn’t work hard in ninth and tenth grade, but, by eleventh, I’d figured out how to be a successful student.” Such an answer shows maturity, the ability to take responsibility for one’s mistakes, as well as an upward academic trend.
Prepare Questions to ask the Interviewer:
— Asking thoughtful questions is one of the best ways to demonstrate serious interest in a school. Be sure to have some good questions prepared!
— The best questions cannot be answered by looking at the school’s website or brochures.
— Research and ask questions about extracurricular activities, classes and majors offered, as well as the research professors are doing in your prospective field. Show the interviewer that you want a relationship with the school by pursuing information about such topics.
Some Common Interview Questions:
1.) Tell me about yourself.
2.) Why are you interested in our college?
3.) Who in your life has most influenced you?
4.) If you could talk with any (living or deceased) person, who would it be and why?
5.) What about you is unique?
6.) What do you expect to be doing 10 years from now?
7.) What are your strengths and weaknesses?
8.) Tell me about a challenge that you overcame.
9.) What do you do for fun in your free time?
10.) Does your high school record accurately reflect your effort and ability?
11.) Recommend a good book to me.
12.) If you could do one thing in high school differently, what would it be?
A Few Last Tips for Interview-Day:
— Dress professionally and arrive early on interview day. Also, make sure your cell phone is turned OFF!
— Smile and be polite to everyone you meet
— Arrive to the interview alone–do not bring your parents
— Be yourself!
Best of luck with your college interviews!