Many of the top universities – especially colleges in the Ivy League – allow applicants to interview with the admission team. Over the years we’ve heard the same story, “I flopped on my college interview.” Whether due to nerves or insufficient planning, a shocking number of high school students strike out on their first round of college interviews. Luckily, we have some handy tips that’ll get rid of any pre-interview jitters, and allow high school students to impress the entire college admission team. As your appointment draws nearer, prepare with these college interview tips and strategies.
Many students enter their interview with a mental script filled with possible questions and talking points. That script won’t help when the interview steers in a different direction. When you memorize a script, you end up sounding robotic, but the admission team looks for authenticity. Having already interviewed countless students, the admission team can spot lies and embellishments from a mile away. Having a regular conversation with your interviewer will feel more natural and will impress them more than trying to memorize a script. Just relax, take a deep breath, and pretend you’re having a real conversation with a friend, family member, or teacher.
Asking questions lets the interviewer know you’ve completed research about the institution, and you came prepared. Taking the extra initiative also gives the team a glimpse in your enthusiasm about the school. Is there something that you’re having trouble understanding about college life? Maybe you want to know more about programs that piqued your interest. The admissions team wants to see you’re interested, but they are also there to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
This may seem obvious, but too many students attempt to create a façade, hoping to impress the college interviewer. Painting yourself in a false light defeats the entire purpose of a college interview. The admissions team isn’t interested in what you think you should be; they want to know about the REAL you rather than the false impression you’re trying to paint.
Some students honestly believe they can wing an interview with little preparation. We can pretty much guarantee that it won’t end well. You’ll get caught off-guard by questions, stumble over your answers, and leave the interviewer unimpressed. Setting some time aside to prepare (even if it’s just an hour or two) can do wonders to your performance. Think about some of the questions an interviewer may ask and try to come up with some responses. Remember to stay professional, but don’t assume what the interviewer wants to hear.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable?” Try applying this mantra to your own situation. Make sure you arrive at your college interview thirty minutes ahead of time. Arriving early will help you avoid traffic or any delays, as well as grant you some extra time to prepare and clear your mind of any pre-interview nerves. It also shows the interviewer that you feel eager and ready for the interview.
Regardless of how well the interview went, you should always send a follow-up email, thanking the team for taking the time to meet with you. While it may not guarantee admission, taking the time to write a message shows professionalism, and will help you stand out from the crowd. Make sure you send your message within twenty-four hours of the interview when you’re still fresh in their minds.
When it comes to college interviews, it’s easy to get lost in your own cluster of thoughts. Many students become anxious by thinking about what can go wrong, instead of thinking about how they can wow the interviewer. Just take a deep breath, relax, and remember to use these tips. For more information about test preparation and college applications, subscribe to our blog.
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