Some colleges require interviews as part of the admission and/or scholarship process. Others provide interviews as a way for students and college authorities to determine if a particular school is the right fit for a student and vice versa. While not all interviews have bearing on the actual admission process, students that take their college career seriously need to treat every interview as though it could play a role in shaping the course of their future. Here are just a few guidelines to follow when it comes to college interviews.
Think of your interview like a test, one that you need to prepare for if you want any hope of succeeding. You should prepare for both answering and asking questions. Bring your transcripts and other pertinent paperwork with you and do some research on common questions you may be asked during a college interview. Then research the schools you’re interested in and show up for interviews with a list of questions you have about particular institutions. This will show that you’re interested, that you’ve done your homework, and that you are well prepared for your interview. It will also help you to feel confident and relaxed throughout the process.
- Dress appropriately.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and you don’t want the admissions officer at your college of choice to get the impression that you don’t care about your appearance or that you’re completely unaware of (or indifferent to) appropriate dress for interview situations. Business casual attire should be your benchmark, although you could always step up your wardrobe if, say, you’re applying to Ivy League institutions.
- Be yourself.
This is a biggie. An interviewer needs to get some inkling of why you’re the best candidate for admission. You need to let your personality shine through as a way to make an impact and separate yourself from the hundreds or thousands of other applicants that will answer the very same questions you’re asked. Making yourself memorable could just help you to beat out other students.
- Rest on your laurels.
College admission could rely on a number of factors, including grades, AP course work, extracurricular activities, SAT scores, and so on. But these factors alone do not guarantee admission. Sometimes it comes down to that something extra that puts you at the head of the pack. If you walk in thinking you’ve already been accepted because of what’s on paper, you might not put in the effort to impress during the interview, and this could be a fatal mistake, so to speak.
- Ask stupid questions.
Whoever told you there is no such thing as a stupid question was wrong. Do not think you will impress your interviewer asking questions that can easily be answered by the school’s website or other readily available materials? You’ll not only waste everyone’s time, but you’ll miss your opportunity to dazzle the admissions officer with truly insightful and unexpected queries. Plus, you’ll squander the chance to gain more in-depth information about the schools you’re interested in.
- Assume the interview doesn’t matter.
Even if the interview is only a small part of your bid to gain admittance to Pepperdine University or other colleges, you still need to take it seriously. Suppose it comes down to you or another student that has your same credentials. Who do you think will gain admission? The student that nailed the interview or the one that looked bored the whole time?