5 Steps to Preparing for a College Interview

In College Admissions on Apr 21, 2016

Whether you’re a brand-new freshman still learning to navigate your high school campus or a seasoned upperclassman who’s already battling senioritis, it’s never too early to start thinking about college. But you’re not done once you’ve taken your standardized tests and send off your application. Some schools ask you to come in for a college interview, and that takes a lot of prep work. If you want to make a great impression (and keep those nerves in check!) read on for some of our top tips.

1. Understand the purpose of the interview
They’re not to torture you, we promise! Interviews are a great way for you to learn more about the school and be 100 percent sure it’s a good match for you. They also let the admissions team learn more about your background and whether you may be a perfect fit for certain programs or scholarships. There’s nothing to be scared of – the team is just getting to know you a little better as they review your application.

2. Practice, practice, practice
Ask friends or family members to mock interview you before the big day. The point isn’t to memorize your responses because they’ll sound rehearsed and fake. Rather, it’s to get you comfortable answering questions about your academic background, volunteer experience and education goals. Answering similar questions multiple times gives you an idea of what you want to say and will make sure you don’t forget to talk about any big accomplishments.

3. Be yourself
You should be a little more formal in an interview than you would be chatting with friends, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your personality shine through. The interviewers want to get to know the real you, so don’t pretend to be someone else because you think the act will impress them. Chances are, they'll think you come off as too stiff or overrehearsed and you won't end up impressing them.

4. Do some research on your interviewer
Is the person you’re meeting with an alum of the college, an admissions counselor, or someone else entirely? Learning a little more about him or her before you meet in person may help you feel a little relaxed during the introductions. Just don't go overboard and social media stalk them too much - there's definitely a difference in knowing someone's past experience with the school and knowing what they ate for lunch yesterday. 

5. Have a set list of questions
Asking questions is one of the most important parts of the interview – it shows you’re truly interested in learning more about the school and engaged in the college decision process. Come up with a list of several just in case a few of your questions happen to be covered while your interviewer is chatting. Bonus points: If you’ve completed tip four, you can ask about the interviewer’s background and determine which questions they’ll be able to answer. An alum may be great for fielding questions about the campus experience while admissions counselors may be better suited to knowing what characteristics successful students possess.

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