If a college offers you the opportunity to appear in an on-campus interview, feel lucky! It is a wonderful opportunity to let the admission officers know more about you. But before that, you must be having a lot of queries in your mind: what should be your approach? What should you wear? How should you prepare for the interview? So many unanswered questions! Keep calm. We have all the answers you require.
Once you decide to meet the admission officer of the college, you should start preparations for the interview. You also need to take certain steps after the interview to increase your admission chances. So, here is a detailed checklist, where each point has been elaborated with relevant ways and examples.
1. Before taking the interview
Let’s go for it
- Make an interview appointment with the college
Often college admissions recruitment offices schedule interview appointments back to back. If you are late, you may have only a few minutes to talk to your admission officer, or may have to get the interview rescheduled. To avoid this situation, you need to fix a time which you think you can honor or at least arrive prior to it.
2. Know the college/university
Usually, you will participate in an interview after submitting your application. So before the interview session, you should do some pretty serious research into the college/university you are targeting. Here are few tools and resources to know your college better.
It is time to go back to the website, books and other college material you have already read such as on academic programs, students’ activities or university culture.
- Visit Facebook and Twitter feed to learn about everyday affairs of the college
- Check the posted syllabus of your course to explore and estimate a class’s workload
- Investigate support services such as financial aid process, counseling and career-planning services
- Browse the online library catalog.
- Plan a college visit
You also have to make some physical efforts. Pay a visit to the college where you are planning to give an interview. Here is a checklist of what you require to do when you are visiting a college:
- Pick up financial aid forms
- Talk to students about what they think of their classes and professors
- Check out the freshmen dorms, if possible
- Walk or drive around the community surrounding the campus
- Read the student newspaper
- Scan the bulletin boards to witness what daily students life is like.
Get ready for the fireballs!
3. Prepare for questions
Here are few common interview questions and their potential answers,
- Why you want to attend this college/university?
Be careful when answering this tricky question, and show that you have researched enough. Avoid answer like this, “graduating from your college will get me a good job opportunity.” Don’t project you materialistic desires. Highlight your intellectual interests. Tell specifically about what distinguishes the college from others.
- What do you want to major in……………….?
You don’t have to decide your major before joining the college and your interviewer will not look down upon you if you say you have many interests and need to take more classes before choosing your major. However, if you have established interest in a potential major, prepare to explain why. Avoid saying something like you want to take certain major because you will make a lot of money.
- How will you contribute to college campus community?
You will have to be specific while answering this question. Answers like, ‘I am hard working’ is rather bland and generic. Think about what makes you unique among your peers. What exactly you have to diversify the college community?
- Tell me a challenge that you overcome
The question is meant to investigate what kind of problem you have solved. When confronted with the problem, how do you handle the situation? You admission officer wants to know about this because the college will be full of challenges. If your admission officer does not find you potential enough to handle critical situations, he will not be pleased to give you an entry to the college.
- How do you spend your free-time?
Careful!! Answers like ‘hanging out’ ‘chilling with friends’ is a weak answer for this question. You need to understand the fact that college is not all about work; colleges like those students who do something productive when they are not studying. Talking about hobbies like writing, hiking, playing tennis will show that you are an all-rounder with a variety of interests.
- Where do you see yourself after 10 years from now?
Don’t pretend that you have a life planned in papers; that would be fake because very few students taking admission in colleges can accurately predict their future. However, the interviewer wants to see how you see things ahead of you. A smart answer could be, ‘I see myself as an honest, open-minded, hard working even after 10 years.’
- Does your high school record accurately echo your effort and ability?
Be careful with this issue because you don’t want to come across as a whiner or blame someone for low grades. However, if you got your grades in extenuating circumstances, let the college know.
- Recommend me a good book….
First, this question asks whether you are a reader. Second, this question demands you to apply your critical sense to decide why a book is worth reading. And finally, your interviewer might get a real recommendation.
- If you could do one thing in high school differently, what would that be?
This question can leave a sour feeling on your interviewer if it is not treated well. If you dwell on things that you regret, you may end up leaving negative impression on your interviewer. The effective answers can be, ‘I always wondered if I would have enjoyed acting and music, or maybe I would have liked to give the student newspaper a try. Studying Chinese would be more prospectus with Spanish.’ Your answer should reflect that high school years were busy for you and you did not have time to do everything that is of interest to you.
Time to rehearse
4. Conduct a mock interview
Before your meeting with the college representative/admission officer, you can ask one of your friends or a parent to conduct a mock college interview. To conduct the mock interview,
- Find a quite place and arrange two chairs for seating purpose to face your interviewer
- Make sure you have clear idea about the role you want your mock interviewer to play
- Arrange all those material that you intend to take to your real interview.
Follow the steps that you intend to repeat in your real interview session. Enter the room, shake your hands with the mock interviewer hand and introduce yourself. After your mock interview, the mock interviewer can tell you about:
- You responses (clear and understandable/vague or irrelevant)
- Engagement (A hand shake, proper eye contact, smile)
- Speech (Too quite/too loud/ too fast)
- Posture (sitting a in a way that you are under-confident).
Ready to make first impression?
5. Choose appropriate clothes to wear for the interview
- Top: High neckline, cap sleeves or longer. Be sure it is not see-though
- Bottom: Nice pants, apart from jeans or a skirt (one that falls below the knee)
- Shoes: Preferably closed toe, if you are not comfortable walking in heels, this is not the day to try it. Flats are fine
- Accessories: If wearing a skirt, you can team it up with stockings. Keep your jewelry to the minimum that is not too flashy or distracting
- Make-up: Tone down your make up, avoid colored eye-liner, eye shadow or unnaturally red lipstick. Natural make-up along with nude lips will do fine
- Top: A bottom down, long-sleeve shirt in conservative way (no Hawaiian style), a tie and/or jacket are optional, but it is not necessary
- Bottom: Slacks in any color (better match with the shirt color), No jeans or cargo pants
- Shoes: Dress shoes or boots, No sneakers and flip flops.
Are you forgetting something?
6. Gather documents you might need
Before appearing in an interview, take time to gather all the needed documents that your interviewer may ask you to present. Those documents are,
- SAT scores
- Transcript Resume
- Copies of letters of recommendation
- A copy of completed application.
Take a deep breath!
7. Calm yourself down fast
The more positive you are, the more composed you are. The more you are relaxed, the easier it is to impress your admission officer.
The fastest, the most powerful and effective way to do this is to learn how to eliminate negative thinking that mainly leads you to anxiety, fear and depression. So, learn how to stay positive with your thinking. Here is a powerful belief:
“Believe that you can always handle, accept, learn, benefit and gain from any situation or outcome as long as you are live.”
By believing this,
- You will be more confident; naturally happier and as a result more successful than ever
- You will enjoy a greater peace of mind that will make you more relaxed and calm.
- After taking the interview
Now, go back to what you have done!
- Review your college visits
- Assess and try to summarize your general impression of each college/university in written manner
- Decide how your experience has increased and decreased your interest in the college
- Revise the list of colleges in which you had interest while the experiences are fresh in your mind.
Don’t leave the trail
- Follow-up your college visits
Follow-ups are important after college visits because it is a professional; because it can help you in your applications. File any business card with contact information that the interviewer and the other admission offer staff offered to you. This may include,
- Staff in the admission office
- College students who answered your questions
- Faculty who provided information
- Coaches who met you.
You may require their help anytime, you never know!
- Write a final thank you note
Go the extra mile to send a handwritten thank you note. Your interviewer may receive hundreds of e-mails a day and only a handful of written notes each week. You will be noted in their files. Remember to sign the note with your name, email address and contact number just in case he or she chooses to get in touch with you.
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