One might argue that college interviews are more stressful than the application essays themselves. Indeed, it's one thing to send ten pages worth of material to an anonymous admissions officer, and quite another to meet in person with an alumni who will write a report about you. But college interviews don't need to be dreadful — instead, try keeping these tips in mind:
Before the interview:
- Research the school. Find out what you like about the school and what you'd like to know more about. You should be able to present a strong case for why you want to go to the school, a case that extends beyond the "reputation" factor. Asking obvious questions like, "Does this school have an astrology department?", does not reflect well on the asker and could easily be avoided with prior online research
- Dress appropriately for the occasion. If you're meeting at a local Starbucks, there's no need to show up in a full suit and tie. If you are invited to group interviews at a more formal setting (i.e a hotel, university, etc.), perhaps breaking out the slacks isn't a bad idea.
- Practice talking about yourself. Whether you practice with a mirror, friend, or family member, it always help to practice the college interview, even if every interview is different. For those not used to having to verbalize for themselves, practicing is key to a successful college interview.
During the Interview:
- Relax. You might click with your interviewer right away. You might not. If you're being yourself, then there is little else within your control. Use the interview as opportunity to learn about the school if anything! That being said...
- Ask questions. You will be sitting in front of someone who has spent their formative years in an institution you are vying to attend. It only makes sense you have questions about their experiences of the school! Not asking about their time at the school or the school itself shows a lack of interest, especially if you are given the opportunity to ask such questions!
- Avoid sensitive issues. Your interviewer might be a conservative, while you are a liberal. Your college interview is not the time to debate politics — keep in mind that your interviewer will be writing a report about you to the admissions office. Do not risk getting on anyone's bad side, especially if it could affect your chances at a dream school.
After the Interview:
- Write a thank-you note/email. Whether or not you appreciate it, someone took an hour or two out of their day to meet with you. These are people with jobs and families who volunteered their time to interview prospective applicants; not only is it courtesy to send a short thank-you note, it reflects well on you as an applicant and could influence your interview report. Follow up on any interesting points if need be, but don't harass your interviewer!
All that being said, good luck on any college interviews you may have!