10 Tips to Prepare for the College Interview (5 Dos and 5 Don’ts)

Ivy & Quill - 10 Tips to Prepare for the College Interview (5 Dos and 5 Don’ts)

You have applied to 15-20 schools and finally you can let out a sigh with relief, right? Well, yes and no. The first part of the college application process is now behind you. So now, phase two begins—otherwise known as the anticipation phase. My father has always told me that anticipation is a (metaphorical) killer and in my own life, I have seen this to be true as I am sure you have too. Therefore instead of waiting around to be called for a college interview or for acceptance letters to start rolling in, you can actually take this time to be proactive in preparing yourself for the real possibility that you have a formal interview with an admissions officer at your top choice school. With that said, let’s take that nervous energy and transform it into something good and productive…

5 Dos

  1. Do your school specific research – if you think that you have a chance at being called for an interview, go online and do some research about the school’s mission/philosophy/motto, specific major of study that you have applied for along with learning about research possibilities or campus life activities that nicely compliment your areas of interest. You may discover that there is a professor that you would love the chance to study under.
  2. Do some research about commonly asked questions and school specific questions – simply do a quick Google search (i.e. “common college interview questions”) and you’ll find great resources such as Top Interview Tips published on The Princeton Review that gives sample questions from a discussion of your successes and failures to your favorite subject. Keep a document on your computer or even make a note on your phone of key questions and type up some possible responses to them in your own words. In this way, you can give a concrete form to your thoughts and responses. 
  3. Do your part in being well prepared to speak about yourself – other than doing some research, focus your attention inward. Think about your positive qualities, in what ways you can be a solid asset both in the classroom and on campus, what is something special or unique about you that your admissions officer should know, and how you are self-aware about your strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Do some practice rounds of mock interviews – perhaps you and your friend (who is also waiting to be called for an interview) can help each other out by switching roles of admissions officer and interviewee. In this way, you can both become more comfortable with carefully listening to the questions asked while having to collect your thoughts when responding. Parents, family members, and even a teacher at school can perhaps help you out, too. If you even want to go a step further, a trusted educational consultant (like ourselves!) is here to help make this process as authentic as possible while giving you excellent and individualized strategies to ace your interview.
  5. Do some meditation or breathing exercises – although you may be thinking that this advice is absurd, it can actually be applied to all aspects of your life. By learning how to calm your nerves, this will allow to stay clear and focused on the day of your interview (also during your move into your dorm room, on your first day of class, the first few times you engage in new social events, when you have to give a major presentation, and when taking exams to name a few…three long breaths work magic).

5 Don’ts

  1. Don’t be afraid – although the idea of being interviewed by an admissions officer at the school of your choice seems incredibly terrifying – think of this as an opportunity to share what you have to offer your prospective college/university! If you go into the interview with this perspective, you will feel more in control of the journey.
  2. Don’t be late – if you are to meet in person, be sure to show up to the specified location 15-20 minutes ahead of time. In this way, you will give yourself time to check in and settle down. You will also make a punctual impression. If you are going to meet online, make sure that your computer is fully charged and you are logged into the platform (i.e. Skype) 15 minutes ahead of time checking that your audio and camera work just fine.
  3. Don’t be too casual – can you recall one of the first expressions learned in grade school, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, this is one of those times in life where you actually will be judged on initial first impressions. Therefore, dress the part – CollegeVine offers a great guide for appropriate attire for young men and young women. Stand up tall and upon meeting your interviewer, politely introduce yourself and shake hands. Manners go a long way so don’t forget to say nice to meet you, please, and thank you.
  4. Don’t lose your focus – during the interview (especially at the start) your nerves may get the best of you to the point where you are too much in your own head being afraid of being judged by your interviewer. This is not the time to let your insecurities take hold of you, rather think of this experience an opportunity to reveal the best version of yourself by staying present and in the moment.
  5. Don’t forget to thank your interviewer – although this may seem obvious, sometimes the smallest gestures get forgotten in the moment. Therefore, make it a point to thank your interviewer for their time in meeting with you and you can also thank them for their consideration of your application.