When students hear the word “College Interview,” many immediately begin to panic and freak out. I mean, who wouldn’t? Most students have never been in a formal interview setting, much less with someone who will be reading their application and potentially influencing their admission to that college. Many students ask me questions like, “what should I wear?”, “What questions do I need to be prepared for?”, “What if I mess up?”. Before you know it, many students would rather run a Beep Test than do a college interview! First of all, let me give you the most important tip right now: BREATHE!
Most college interviews are simply made available for you to let the college know more about you. These tend to be informative, rather than evaluative. This is your opportunity to share more about yourself than you might be able to on a piece of paper and show your personality (and trust me, I have never met a rugger who didn’t have personality!). Many interviews are available only for Grade 12 students and take place in the fall either with an admissions counselor on campus or while they are on the road visiting your high school. The majority of colleges allow you to register for them online (if you don't see this option, you can always email your area rep to ask if they offer them at all). For example: Bowdoin College Interview Carleton College Interview It’s also a good idea to check in with your school counselor or check your Naviance/MaiaLearning account to see what college reps may be visiting your schools each week. In many cases, you may also be asked for an interview with a college alumnus who lives in your area where most of the time, these are conducted at a local coffee shop, restaurant, or virtually via ZOOM.
Still feeling nervous? Here are my Top 9 Ways to Rock Your College Interview:
Do your Homework (about the school): You should be ready to explain why you are applying. Prepare concrete examples of what you like about the school.
Be Prepared: Look up where you need to go and plan out how to get there ahead of time (will there be parking issues? Plan ahead!). Write down any questions you have (and have 1-2 ready!).
Dress to Impress!: First impressions are important – dress in a way that conveys you respect your interviewer’s time and that you are taking this seriously. No jeans or T-shirts, or workout gear (and yes, I have seen this happen!). Arrive a little ahead of time. A nice polo shirt or a nice blouse and clean pants will always be fine.
Bring your Resume: Most interviewers may already have info about you, but just in case they don’t, bring your own resume to provide background about yourself as well as a method for bringing up certain topics you might forget to discuss in the heat of the moment.
Be Enthusiastic and Energetic!: Would you want to speak to someone who appeared uninterested and tired? Probably not! The same view applies here – show your interviewer you are excited and that there is nowhere else you want to be.
Prepare yourself for common questions: Many interviewers use similar questions. A quick google search will turn up hundreds of articles with sample interview questions. Here is one of my favorites:
Answer questions completely: It’ll sure be a quick interview if you answer every question with either a yes or a no. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask you directly to explain more, use this time to elaborate. Interviewer: So I see you play rugby? You: Yes. I love it! I have been playing for almost 6 years now. I started the team when I was in middle school after watching a game on TV. It was hard at first to get a team going, but I figured I had to at least start a club at school. I met with …
Don’t forget to ask your own questions. Asking questions shows you have a genuine interest in getting to know more about your school. Try not to ask things that you could easily find on their website (e.g. “do you have a biology program?”) Ask something only a graduate or an employee of the school would know. One of my favorites is “what was one of your favorite traditions while you were at X college?”
Follow up: Get the name and contact information of the interviewer. Send a short thank-you note by mail or e-mail.
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