The College Interview Process

College Interview

Some colleges require an admissions interview before final admission is granted. Interviews may occur on campus, by telephone or through scheduling a visit to your home. If your school doesn’t require an interview, they may simply lack the resources to make appointments with every candidate. Generally, unless you are applying for scholarships or seeking admission at a top-tier school, the interviewing process is optional.
Candidates that are selected for interviews should prepare appropriately. If your grades are lacking, you can significantly improve your chances of admission by impressing the interviewer with your communication skills. For applicants with excellent grades, test scores and essays the interview process will not be weighed as heavily as the application will speak for itself.
Dress appropriately and avoid dressing casually. Men should wear a suit and tie when possible or dress pants and a dress shirt at the minimum. Women should wear a dress or a pantsuit and appropriate shoes. It’s important to avoid dressing informally. Don’t be embarrassed about dressing up for an interview. It’s better to look too well-dressed than sloppy.
Arrive early and figure out the location of the interview, how long it will take you to get there and plan on arriving 10 minutes early. If you are too early, it may create awkwardness if the interviewer isn’t yet ready for you. Arriving late will reflect badly on you and force the interviewer to conduct a condensed and hurried interview.

College Interview:

College Prep Tip:

Prepare and Ask Questions

When you enter the room for the interview, make sure to introduce yourself and shake the hand of the interviewer. Ask permission to sit if the interviewer doesn’t tell you to sit down within a few moments.
The interviewer will begin by asking you questions. Be prepared to talk about your extra-curricular activities, life goals, intended major and why you feel this particular college is right for you. Avoid providing generic explanations. If you can show the interview that you have some knowledge of the school and an understanding of why it is a good fit, your chances of getting accepted will increase dramatically.
Once the interviewer has finished asking you questions, it is your chance to ask him a few questions. Keep it to two or three questions that can’t easily be found with a quick search on the Internet or through the school website. If you ask questions that can easily be answered with a visit to the college homepage, it will appear that you haven’t given much specific thought to the college.

College Interview Tip:

 Mock Interviews
Nobody expects you to walk into an interview for the first time and conduct yourself perfectly. Interviewing takes practice. Ask a close friend, parent, family member or teacher to help you prepare for the interview. Take the interview seriously, practice the initial entrance, dress appropriately and practice thinking before you speak. It is okay to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts before answering. Thinking about your responses shows the interview you are intentional and careful with your statements.
When possible, record the interview so that you can watch your mannerisms and improve. While you can ask the person conducting the mock interview about anything that went poorly, seeing yourself in action helps you to see your weaknesses and improve. Avoid interjection words such as “like” or “um.” Instead, try and use transitional words, such as “therefore,” “additionally” or “however.”

College Interview Tip:

Avoid turning your personality into a caricature of your true self. Interviewers are skilled at knowing when a person is just acting the part. If you aren’t a good match for the school, don’t force yourself on a school. Be yourself so that you have a fair chance of determining if the school is a good match for your personality. Most importantly, enjoy the interview process. Interject subtle yet appropriate humor if it seems appropriate. Conversely, if the interviewer is all business, avoid making jokes, since the interviewer may feel you are not taking the interview seriously.

College Interview Tip:

Schedule Wisely
Arrange your schedule so that the first interviews are with the schools that you won’t be upset if you don’t get accepted to. However, avoiding scheduling interviews with schools just to gain practice. Instead of wasting people’s time, you can get interviewing help with the local employment office or with the help of your friends and family. Interviews may last from 15 minutes to an hour or more. Don’t make any plans for immediately before or after the interview.

College Interview Tip:

Thank the Interviewer
Shake the hand of the interviewer when the interview concludes. The next day, send a thank you note as a follow-up. The interviewer may appreciate the extra consideration and it gives you a chance to show your interest in the school one last time. Be professional and express your gratefulness for his time and your continued interest in the school. Do not send gifts since they may be misconstrued as a bribe.

Getting the Most Out of a College Fair

College fairs can be a wonderful opportunity to gather information, speak with admissions office staff members, and get answers to your questions all in one place. Plan to attend at least one college fair during your college search process and you will walk away with plenty of new information and resources to aid in your search.

Do your Homework
Plan to attend college fairs well in advance so you can select fairs that have many of your top choice schools in attendance. Find out which schools will be there and make a list of the schools whose tables you want to be sure to visit, as well as schools on a second tier list if you have time to check out more of the tables at the fair.

Be Prepared on College Fair Day
Dress neatly and professionally for the college fair–you don’t have to be formal, but you want to be neat. You can’t go wrong with business casual. Bring along a bag large enough to carry materials you collect at the college fair, a pen, and a notepad to write down things you find out. When you arrive at the college fair, find a map right away and plot out where you want to go first and your plan for the day. Many college fairs can be busy and hectic, so taking a moment to plan ahead will make a big difference.

Ask Good Questions
Spend some time looking at college websites before attending and prepare a list of questions that you have about each of your top choices. You want to ask good questions that you could not answer from the website or admissions materials. This will help you to gather information as you make decisions about college and also help you to stand out to potential colleges. Subjective questions can provide more interesting information than objective questions, like class size, which can often be answered from admissions booklets. Ask the people representing the school about the things that makes their college unique, their favorite traditions, and what college freshmen would say about their first year on campus.

Keep an Open Mind
While you want to be sure to get to all of your top schools, allow some time tat the college fair just to wander and see the other school’s displays. If something catches your attention, stop and ask questions. College fairs can be a great time to add schools to your list and explore options you may have not heard of in the past.

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