College Interview Preparation

As you prepare for your upcoming college interview, the first thing that you should keep in mind is that the interviewer’s goal is not to trick you, but to get to know you better.  The interviewer will be evaluating your character, talent, and interests.  This is your opportunity to shine, set yourself apart from the other applicants, and really make your academic and extracurricular achievements glow.

I know your parents may have told you not to brag or “toot your own horn,” but this is where you make the exception.  However, in addition to “bragging” about yourself, you also must convey your interest in the school and demonstrate the research you’ve done thus far.

As part of your college interview preparation, here are some questions that you should be prepared to answer:

1.  Why are you interested in this school?

Really put some thought into this one.  I’m assuming that if you’ve decided to move forward with the interview process, then there are lots of things that you really like about the school.  What are they?  Maybe you’re into the performing arts and you love the school’s theatre program or maybe you want to be an engineer one day and the school offers an awesome 5-year program that allows you to get a dual degree in chemistry and engineering, both of which you love.  Whatever the case may be, be ready to tell your interviewer why you feel that this school is the perfect fit for you.

2.  What are you planning to study & why?

Again, the purpose of this question is to get to know you better.  Most people choose specific majors as a result of someone else leading them to it.  For example, you may love animals because you grew up on a farm and as a result you want to become a veterinarian.  Now this is not the case for everyone.  Some students don’t know what field they want to enter after college and that’s okay.  Being undecided is fine.  Maybe there are a few majors that you’re considering and you discuss these with the interviewer.

3.  What do you think you’ll contribute to this school?

In other words, what are you passionate about.  Colleges want students who will add value to their school.  Take a moment to think about your passions.  Maybe you love to mentor elementary school students or you volunteer regularly at your local art museum.  If these activities play a major role in your life, why not share them?

How to make the interview go smoothly…

1.  Research the school ahead of time. Make sure you spend a significant amount of time on the school’s website.  Start to think about what it is that really draws you to this particular school, if you haven’t done so already.  This is something that should have been done as part of your initial research.  If you haven’t read the post: Colleges That Change Lives, I would encourage you to do so.  That article will give you even more strategies for researching schools and finding the best fit for you.

2.  Be yourself. The purpose of the interview is to get to know the person behind the application.  Don’t be afraid to show your personality and to describe what makes you unique.  At the same time, you should also remember to be respectful and professional at all times.

3.  Ask engaging questions. What does “engaging” mean?  You want the interviewer to be drawn into the conversation.  The best way to do this is to get them to talk.  Ask the interviewer what he or she likes about the school.  Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so not only will this take some of the interviewing pressure off of you, it will also let the interviewer know that you have a genuine interest in getting to know him or her.

Also, if you came across something during your internet research that you have questions about, ask them.  Now is the perfect time.  Not only will this show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework and are adequately prepared for the interview, but it will also help you learn more about the college.  Remember, not only do they have to accept you, you have to accept them.

4.  Send a follow-up thank you note. This can be in the form of an email or card.  It shows that you’re appreciative of the interviewer’s time and reiterates your interest in the school.

College Interview Preparation: The Don’ts

  • Don’t wear inappropriate clothing
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Don’t swear
  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t wear too much perfume
  • Don’t show up late
  • Don’t forget to ask questions – they make you seem more interested
  • Don’t worry about being perfect – you’re only in high school
  • Don’t tell inappropriate stories
  • Don’t bring your parents with you
  • Don’t refuse an interview

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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