Ask Cappex: How to Behave During a College Interview

In College Admissions on Jul 18, 2016

Our college expert Mark Kantrowitz answers your questions about college and financial aid.

Q: Some of the colleges that I've been looking at require an interview. How should I act in a college interview to ensure I don't blow my chances?

A: Your goal during the interview is to give a good impression.

  • Practice proper hygiene. Shower before the interview and use deodorant. Brush your teeth. Do not chew gum or smoke during the interview.
  • Thoroughly prepare for the interview in advance
  • Dress appropriately. Do not wear revealing clothing or informal clothing. Cover up any tattoos.
  • Use the bathroom before leaving for the interview. Don’t drink a lot of water, or you may need to visit the restroom in the middle of the interview.
  • Be polite. Turn off your cell phone.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early. Do not be late.
  • If your parent drives you to the interview, ask him or her to wait in the car.
  • When you meet the interviewer, pay attention to his or her name. There is nothing more embarrassing than forgetting the name of the interviewer. If you have trouble remembering names, try linking the interviewer’s name to someone or something familiar to you, such as someone with the same first name. Ask the interviewer for their business card, and treat the business card with respect.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Maintain eye contact when answering questions, but don’t stare.

If the interview will be conducted using Skype Video or Google Video, prepare for the interview by:

  • Cleaning the lens of your webcam.
  • Taking a picture using the webcam, to make sure there’s nothing inappropriate within view of the camera.
  • Centering the webcam in front of the screen, where the interviewer’s video will appear. Otherwise, you’ll have a shifty-eyed look as you repeatedly look from the camera to the video and back.
  • Conducting the interview in a quiet room.

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