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College Interview Tips


Fall is when most high school seniors have college interviews.  The interview is an important opportunity for you to show the college certain things about yourself that may not come through on paper.  Not every school allows interviews and it is important that you look at college websites to find out more about their interview policies.  You also want to find out how the interview will be used in the review of your file.  Often a summary of the conversation you had with the interviewer will be placed in your file and it is sometimes used in the admission process as a gauge of your interest in the college.
There are several different interview formats out there as well.  Some schools offer a traditional, one-on-one conversation with an admissions officer, student who works in the admissions office or with an Alumnus of the college or university.  You should be professional no matter which person you interview with.  Just because you interview with a student does not mean you should let your guard down and be unprofessional.  You may have the opportunity to meet with an Alumnus in your area if you are unable to visit the college campus at a time when interviews are offered.  This is a great opportunity to talk to someone who attended the college and find out how being a student there has benefited them later in life.  Another interview style that colleges use is with a panel (sometimes composed of a professor, school administrator, alumnus, admissions officer or student).  This type of interview can be overwhelming, but it is a great opportunity for you to gain perspective about the college from several different people.
Some schools require you to participate in a group interview. During group interviews, evaluators are trying to determine your ability to work with others and what role you typically play in a group setting.   While these types of interviews are somewhat harder to prepare for, it is a great opportunity to show some of your talents!
No matter what type of interview you participate in, it is important to keep in mind that this is an significant piece of your college application.  Here are a few things to consider when interviewing with a college:
Time is important: Make sure you schedule an appointment for your interview.  Do not assume you will be able to get a time slot the day you happen to be on campus.  Most schools will not conduct interviews on weekends either.  Also, be on time.  Everyone understands that things happen and you may be late for your interview.  If this is the case, be sure to call the office and let them know.  Finally, the interviewers schedule may be tight, so make sure you say what you feel is the most important thing for them to know about you in the beginning of the interview.
Do your research: If you do interview with a school, make sure it is one that you are really interested in. Ask well research questions about specific programs or activities offered at the school.  Remember this is also the time for you to find out if the school is a good fit for you.  The interviewer will also ask you why you are interested in a school or a specific program at the school.  Make sure you have thought about your answer ahead of time!

Be professional: You don’t have to wear a suit for your interview, but make sure your appearance is appropriate.   Most interviewers understand that you are touring college campuses before or after your interview, so most are not expecting high heels and three piece suits.  You should however, not be wearing your sweatpants or short shorts.  Also, make sure you are not wearing too much perfume or cologne.  Strong smells can be really over powering and a distraction for the interviewer.  Finally, make sure that you cell phone is off or leave it in the lobby with your parents.  Even having your phone on vibrate can be a negative distraction.
Watch your language: You are not having a conversation with your friends, so watch how much slang you use and no profanity!  If you are a person that uses the word “like” every other word, then practice having conversations without it!

Ask yourself some questions: The interviewer will ask you questions such as, “How would you describe yourself?”  “How would your teachers describe you?” “What is your favorite subject?”  “What are you interested in studying in college?”  Make sure you have some good answers.
Write a thank you note: This shows the interviewer that you appreciated him or her taking time out of his or her day to interview you.  You want the note to be grammatically correct and remember- it will probably end up in your admission file and resurface at the time your file is reviewed.

Katherine Price
Former Interviewer


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