The concept of a “college interview” can be nerve-racking for students and parents alike. Although the interview experience varies from school to school, in general these conversations provide the admissions office with a chance to get to know a student. Interviews also give students the opportunity to ask their questions and to get an insider’s perspective on a particular college community.
Here are some tips for effective and less stressful interviews:
Before the Interview
- Feel free to ask the university about the expected dress code. Even if you are told to dress “casual,” dress appropriately and, if in doubt about your outfit, dress on the conservative side.
- Find out where to meet your interviewer.
- Arrive 5-10 minutes ahead of your scheduled interview time.
- A great way to feel more confident during the interview is to have a few questions prepared ahead of time; feel free to write these questions down and bring them with you into the interview.
During the Interview
- Know yourself! If you are an academic explorer who is undecided about a particular major, be ready to discuss favorite courses, teachers, and other areas of academic interest. It is also fair game to talk about your extracurricular involvements (clubs, sports, part-time work, family responsibilities) and your other interests (favorite books, movies, other hobbies, travel experiences). Just remember—it is easy to talk about what you know and love!
- Remain positive, energetic, and conversational throughout the interview. The interview begins when you are first greeted by your interviewer … not when you sit down to talk.
- If asked, be able to articulate why this particular institution might be a good match for you. Consider what you want in a university; size, location, specific academic programs, faculty-student relationships, research opportunities, study abroad options, and the campus community all are important factors.
After the Interview
- Follow up with and e-mail or handwritten note, thanking the interviewer for his or her time. Mention what you enjoyed about your visit and the school.
- One-word or yes/no responses.
- Slang or profanity
- Chewing gum
- Stretching the truth. It is always good to be honest about the things that you do. You come across best when you discuss topics with which you are familiar and about which you are passionate.
Just remember to be friendly, talk about what you enjoy, and learn as much as you can about the institution.