Updated: Jul 8
Applying to colleges is a multifaceted process. From the essays to the letters of recommendation, every part of the application is vital to telling your narrative. Many schools have implemented an interview process in their application to allow students to further explain themselves, their goals, and their reason for wanting to attend that university. Below is a list of tips and tricks to best prepare yourself for a college interview.
1. Understand the interview process at that specific institution
Every school has a variation of its college interview process, and it is important you know exactly what their regulations and expectations are. Some colleges interview all applicants while some only interview a selected amount. Some colleges conduct interviews on an invitation-only basis and ask that you wait to be invited while others will want you to sign yourself up for the interview. Ensure that you are visiting the school website to fully understand your role in their process.
2. Know your interviewer
Oftentimes, institutions utilize their current senior students or alumni to conduct the interview. It is a rare instance that you will be interviewed by an admissions officer. Students and alumni will conduct the interview and report back to the admissions committee with a written review (and sometimes anumerical score) of the conversation. While their opinion will not be the final decision of your application review, it is essential that this interview is taken seriously, and you are as prepared as possible. If the school provides you with the name of your interviewer, it is okay to look them up beforehand. This will provide you with information such as their major, when they graduated, and their current career and interests. Take this information into consideration during your interview and allow it to help guide your conversation.
3. Know yourself
Prior to the interview, ensure you have your “elevator pitch” down. Interviews will often start with a statement along the lines of “So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” Remember, these interviewers do not need to know your GPA, test scores, and course load, they need to know you. Tell your story briefly, concisely, and with confidence. While it does not have to be memorized, ensure that your major points are relayed. When preparing, ask yourself this question:
What are the main aspects of myself that are most important to get across in this conversation?
Once you have solidified those 2-3 key identifiers of what makes you a vital contribution to their community, ensure that they remain the overarching themes of the conversation.
4. As much as it is an interview, it is also a conversation
While it is the job of the interviewer to ask the questions, do not let the conversation become a back and forth of question and answer. Use your responses to spark discussion on topics that you feel they can contribute to and that will shine a light on your qualities. When preparing your responses to common interview questions, think of thoughtful follow-up questions you can ask them back. This will create a most conversational dialogue and allows the opportunity for you to both get to know each other on a deeper level.
5. Sell yourself as the perfect student for THIS school, not just the perfect college student
The most important message you are trying to portray is that you have taken the time to do significant research on this institution, as well as others, and are confident that this is the perfect place for you. When asked about your career goals, discuss what you want to do as a career and then relate it back to the curriculum, research opportunities, and organizations at this institution that can help you achieve that goal. When asked about your intended major, discuss specific courses and Faculty that you would have the opportunity to learn from if admitted. While you want to relay the idea that you are qualified to be accepted, you also what to relay the idea that if you are admitted, you will attend. Ensure your responses are angular and intentional.
6. Appearance isn’t everything, but it is something
Whether your interview is virtual or in-person, presentation will set the initial tone of the conversation. It is important to wear something that is both professional and allows for relaxation and movement. When trying on your outfit beforehand, make sure it is appropriate in both a sitting and standing position. If you are interviewing virtually, take note of how much of your outfit and the room is in camera view. It is best to be in a quiet area that will not be interrupted. Practice a call beforehand to make sure your Wi-Fi, camera, and sound are working. If you are meeting in person, ensure you arrive several minutes early. If the location is somewhere public such as a library or coffee shop, find a quiet area where the conversation can be best heard. In either setting, confidence and comfortability will be shown through your physical presentation. Keep conscious of your posture and your facial expressions, sitting up straight and nodding while they speak. Remain engaged in the conversation, not being distracted by movements or conversations around you. This person is taking time out of their day to voluntarily speak with you, and it is vital that they feel they were given respect during that time.
7. Prepare your answers
While the exact questions they will ask are unpredictable, prepare yourself as best as you possibly can. Do your research in finding common interview questions such as: why this major, why this school, what are your career goals, what is a challenge you’ve overcome, etc.? Remember, not every interview will be the same, and some may ask more specific questions to get to know you as an individual. Prepare answers to questions such as your favorite book, favorite movie, what you like to do for fun, and what your weekends typically consist of. Your goal is not to portray yourself exclusively as an academic. Show sides of you that exemplify your passions and allow them to see your authentic self.
If you follow the above tips, you should be far better prepared for your college interview. At Solomon Admissions Consulting, we have a proven track record of significantly higher than average acceptance rates at top colleges. We'd love to help you get the college placement you're dreaming of. Contact us today.