Sweaty palms, a flipping stomach, jittery feet and a clouded brain. Students feel a lot of things on the day of their college interview. It doesn’t seem to matter if the interview is evaluative or informative. Students are expected to speak about themselves intelligently and build a short, but positive relationship with the individual interviewing them. That can be a lot of pressure for an hour conversation.
Up to this point, we’ve focused on what students can do before their interview to prepare. Take a look at our previous post, “College Interviews Part 1: How to Prepare” for pointers on how to gather essential information and form accurate expectations about the interview experience.
In this post we’re going to talk about how to get students through interview day and what they should be focused on during the actual interview.
It’s interview day and students have done the grunt work. They’ve researched the school, collected logistical information about their college visit, formulated some questions to ask the interviewer and done a little soul searching to discover and even practice how they will answer interview questions. Now it’s time make sure they are organized on the day. Students should have the details of their campus visit/interview on hand including the time, location, parking information and an itinerary for the day if they are participating in other activities on campus.
Dress for the occasion
While gathering information about their interview, students will get a feel for how formal the event is going to be. Typically, if the interview is evaluative, more formal attire is expected. Colleges experience students everyday and know that they’re usually a casual bunch. There’s no need for a suit and tie (especially if students are going to be trudging around on campus tours beforehand). However, this doesn’t mean students should wear ripped jeans or t-shirts with loud text scrawled across them. Somewhere in between the two extremes is acceptable for most interviews.
Take a deep breath
Take a minute along the way to decompress. Whether it’s during the car ride over, the time in between the campus tour and the interview or while sitting in the reception area waiting to be called, students should take some time to center themselves. Take a few deep breaths and dive in!
Shake hands and be attentive. Make sure the conversation doesn’t veer onto any unsightly or inappropriate topics and address the interviewer with respect. Demonstrating mature behavior will make a good impression.
We know how cliche that sounds but really, in all things, it’s best to be genuine. Admissions counselors can sense when students are putting on an act or trying to pretend they’re someone that they’re not. It’s okay for students to practice responses to potential interview questions but remember that over-rehearsed answers don’t feel real. The interview is a student’s chance to highlight some of their unique attributes while also taking the opportunity to learn more about the school itself. Students should let their personalities shine through by expressing their passions, discussing what they’re curious about and describing what drives them intellectually and otherwise.
Interview the school
Sure, admissions counselors want to learn more about students but part of the interview process is allowing time for students to ask questions. Students exhibit initiative and curiosity by asking questions and demonstrate that they’ve researched the school. Students shouldn’t be afraid to do a bit of investigative work themselves and ask specifically about what interests them on campus. The modern structure of the interview is more commonly designed to be a conversation as opposed to an interrogation and students that use that to their advantage really stand out.
Thank the college counselor/interviewer
Send a brief thank you note or email. Students will exhibit their continued interest as well as prove themselves to again be mature young adults.
There are a millions tips out there for students on the brink of college interviews. In a world full of endless advice, students should focus on the basics. Interviews are about communicating and students should focus on expressing their most genuine self complete with quirky interests, strong passions and the dreams for their futures.