The College Admissions Interview
Some colleges require an interview before they accept people as new students. This can be a nasty surprise if you are unprepared for it, especially if you get nervous in new situations or while around authority figures. We've given you tips on how to prepare for your admissions interview, though every one is unique so there will always be some level of the unknown. This is the case with all interviews because there's no way to predict exactly what the interviewer will ask you and in what way they will ask it. Yet when you arrive feeling confident, you will be able to handle anything that comes your way. Preparation is key so here are some of the best ways to get ready.
Practice Practice Practice!
Before you go in for an admissions interview have someone close to you help you prepare by asking you questions. And if you can it is highly recommended that you audio record or videotape the process so that you can learn to recognize speech and body language patterns you might want to address before going in. Nervousness can certainly bring on the stammers and fidgets – and since colleges typically understand this is your first interview, ever, they're not going to put you through an interrogation process. But they will be wanting to get to know you better and they will be looking to see how much effort you put into the preparation.
What to Expect
Know that you'll be coming into a professional collegiate environment, so make sure your business casual clothes are clean and pressed and that you've gotten a good night's sleep.
Some common interview questions include:
What do you want to major in?
Most interviewers are hoping to hear passion and caring for your chosen major.
- Why have you selected this field of study?
Note: "My Dad wants me to" is not a good answer. Are you looking to save the planet, make a bundle, or all of the above? Look for ways to give your answer in as positive a way as possible.
- Why do you want to go to this school?
Feel free to discuss the school's academic reputation and that of its professors, and whatever other quality items you care to factor in. "I hear you throw great keggers" is not an appropriate answer even if you're going into Hospitality Management. .
- How do you see yourself contributing to this school?
Colleges are particularly drawn to students who will make a positive impact on campus life and in the local community. Don't be shy when talking about how you'd like to be a part of the school, it will most likely help you.
- What is your favorite extracurricular activity?
Whether you're involved in sports or the local debate club be sure to be truthful and engaging when answering. You can even explain why you love it without prompting. Again, "Partying" is not the best answer to choose.
- What are some of your hobbies?
Outside interests can tell a lot about a person, from depicting you as a quiet introvert or as a very social person. There are no answers here so don't be afraid to share any information that might help the school think you'd be a good addition.
- What is your favorite class?
As with all these questions, be prepared to back up your answer but try not to be scripted. Stating a particular class because "it's easy" is not such a good answer but if the class you mention can be described in a way that helps let the interviewer get to know you then that's great.
- What is your favorite book?
One's favorite book can tell a lot about a person. In knowing this arrive with an adequately descriptive answer as to why the book resonates with you and how it has changed you, if at all.
- In what ways have you been a leader?
This is a chance to show your strength and capabilities but also a chance to give credit to others you may have worked with. In giving your answer you also have the chance to appear quietly competent or brashly boastful so have a care.
- How do you see yourself participating on campus?
Here you could talk about both social activities and any clubs you may be interested in joining. Again, try not to paint yourself as an extreme party animal.
There are more questions you could practice, but these are the ones that are typically asked in admissions interviews. You see, it won't be that bad!
How To Do Well
It's easy to say don't be nervous, but if you can, try not to be! The interview may be a bit nerve-wracking at first, but you have to know that the interviewers are not there to scare or intimidate you. Come prepared and you will do fine.
Here are some ways to knock the interview out of the park:
- Be Yourself
You don't have to put on an elevated manner of speech to impress the interviewers. In fact, admissions interviewers are much more interested in learning who you really are as a person, not who you think they want you to be. So, rather than trying to speak more formally than is natural for you, speak as you normally would speak to your parents or friends—omitting slang and "ums" and "like" whenever possible, of course. Try to think of the experience as a conversation rather than an interview. That way, you will contribute to it as though you were just talking to someone that's inquiring about your life and you'll be much more likely to provide candid and thoughtful answers.
- Be Passionate
One of the worst things you can do for yourself during an admissions interview is to appear uninterested. You really need to be enthusiastic. After all, a college wants to accept students that are committed to their studies, are outgoing and that enjoy participating on campus. You're not going to make them want you if you have the enthusiasm of a slug. Show passion for what you're interested in and a genuine interest in the campus. Though, there is such a thing as going overboard on the enthusiasm as well. Try to find a nice balance between sluggish and over the top.
- Don't Memorize Your Answers
Even though it's beneficial to practice your answers, you don't want to practice them so much you memorize them. Memorizing your answers will make it so you answer in a monotone, boring voice. You'll show no personality and appear over-rehearsed. It will also make it difficult for you to come up with answers on the fly, having merely memorized answers rather than becoming familiar with their meaning.
And there you have it, surefire tips to ace your admissions interview and get in to the college of your dreams. Don't forget these key element for success: Preparation, Positivity, Passion and Personality will help you sail through with flying colors!
Guide to Saving for College
- Saving For College
- 529 College Savings Plan
- Investing for College
- Baccalaureate Bonds
- Treasury Bonds
High School Students
- Finding a School
- Best College for You
- Types of Schools
- Search Aids
- Primary Factors
- Does Image Matter?
- Application Submission
- What Colleges Want
- Letters of Recommendation
- How to Impress
- Finishing Touches