This is the fourth post in a series about how to nail the college admissions interview. Click here to read previous editions on why colleges offer interviews, the types of college interviews you may encounter, and your objectives in preparing for these interviews.
SCHEDULING AND LOGISTICS
- Check the admissions website well in advance of your desired interview date to see whether the school offers interviews, and if so, of what type. Don’t be caught flat-footed thinking it was a non-evaluative interview with a student, when in fact it is an evaluative interview with the admissions representative who will read your application.
- Sign up for the interview according to the procedures explained on the college website. If they ask you to fill out a form, fill out the form. If the ask you to use a web-based scheduling tool, use it. Or if they as you to email or call, definitely make the call. (Parents: your student should make this call—not you.
- Allow plenty of extra time to get to the interview. Tardiness detracts from your ability to make a good first impression.
- Try to schedule your first interview at a safety school (but not a school where you know you’d never apply). This will enable you to do a practice run where the stakes are not as high.
- Bring copies of your college resume and transcript. Your interviewer may or may not want to look at them; however, you should always offer them–or at least have them handy, in case your interviewer wants to see them.
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION
No matter what, remember that you are being judged, in part, on your social skills. So keep the following points in mind.
- Offer a firm (but not bone crushing!) handshake as you meet your interviewer.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Be conscious of your posture; sit up straight.
- Listen actively.
- Show enthusiasm (about yourself, the conversation, and the institution where you’re interviewing).
- Watch your grammar and your language. Avoid the pitfalls of “teenspeak” (“like,” “you know,” “cool,” “umm”…)
- Be gracious as the interview ends, and thank your interviewer for his or her time. And reiterate how excited you are about the college.
- Ask for the interviewer’s card: you will need the contact information to send the interviewer a personal note of thanks after the interview.
DRESSING AND GROOMING
- Dress comfortably and dress to make your interviewer comfortable. No need to wear a suit and tie or a dress and pumps. But you do need to step it up a notch above what you might wear to high school. An interview is an informal conversation, but you should remind yourself that your interviewer is taking the occasion seriously.
- Resist any temptation to reveal your midriff, cleavage, or underwear. Dress respectfully so that the interviewer is not distracted by your appearance.
- Avoid heavy perfumes, colognes, or other pungent grooming products. Do you want your interviewer to remember most how you smelled?