10 Tips for Acing Your College Interview

10 Tips for Acing Your College Interview

By Contributor

em91011 has learned some valuable lessons from her college interviews—and now she wants to pass them onto you! —Sparkitors

A few weeks ago, I had my first college interview, and to my amazement, I couldn't find any advice on SparkNotes to help me through it! Because a lot of Sparklers have interviews coming up, I thought I'd share what I've learned through my own experiences. Here's a list of the ten most important ways to succeed in a college interview:
1. Show up on time. But if you are late, don’t panic. I showed up ten minutes late for one interview because the interviewer had scheduled it at a café that had recently closed. I was half an hour late for another because all of the public transportation was down in the city and there were huge traffic jams. Interviewers are generally pretty understanding, as long as you apologize sincerely.

2. Research the college beforehand. One of the things that interviewers are looking for is a genuine interest in their college, so make sure you seem well-informed and enthusiastic.

3. Prepare a list of questions, and actually write them down—it’ll help you remember them. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget your brilliant question after 45 minutes of being interrogated about yourself.

4. Ask the interviewer questions about herself, as long as they relate back to the college. This is a great chance for you to talk to someone who actually went to the school, and most interviewers really want to help you with your application process.

5. Wear something comfortable. For one interview I decided to wear brand new, bright red flats which (I hoped) would display my quirkiness in a cute way. Unfortunately, they hadn’t been broken in yet, so I limped out of the interview with blisters on my heels.

6. Be prepared for weird questions. Interviewers really make you think on your feet. On interviewer, after I had talked at length about my involvement in my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, asked, “Is that all?” forcing me to switch gears and talk about other volunteer work I’d done. Another asked me what bad things my favorite teacher said about me. When I interviewed for my parents’ alma mater, the interviewer blatantly asked me if I was only applying there because my parents went.

7. Be prepared for all kinds of people. They might know nothing about what you’re interested in, or they might know everything about it. Some colleges try to match you up with interviewers who share your interests, but some just do it by geographic location. As a future theater major, I’ve been interviewed by someone who’s never seen a play in his life and by someone who did her senior thesis project on the play that my high school is currently  performing.

8. Don’t be nervous. Too much fidgeting or nail biting is distracting. Just take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders, and act composed or confident.

9. Make sure you prepare for the interview. It’s always awkward when someone asks you if you’ve filled out a certain form or read something in preparation and you have to tell them that you forgot all about it.

10. Remember that the person interviewing you is, well, a person. One interviewer made it very clear that he had absolutely no interest in hearing about all of the work that I do in theater productions at school, or my love of music, or my experiences as a camp counselor for 8th grade girls. Instead, he asked me several questions about the AP Economics class I had mentioned in passing. When I said that I was interested in majoring in Theater, Religions, Psychology, English, or Philosophy, he told me that those were all interesting, but I shouldn’t make them my major, because employers would want there to be something “more concrete” on my résumé. Remember that these people went to the schools they’re interviewing for, or at least work there, and they have their own personal biases about what kind of person they want at their school. And, as it turns out, the guy who was so interested in my Econ class is an accountant.

Hopefully these great tips can help you ace your upcoming college interviews!

Related post: Applying To College Junior and Senior Year

Topics: college, college admissions, interview prep, interview questions, awkward questions, interviews

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