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The Dreaded College Interview

by Joanne Apesos
September 25, 2015

For many high school seniors, the dreaded interview is almost as scary as writing the personal essay for college applications!

It doesn’t have to be. College interviews are simply conversations, usually with an admissions staff member, about a college you happen to be applying to. Being prepared for the interview can help ease your nervousness and make the experience an almost enjoyable one! 

Here’s some suggestions:

  1.  Your first interview shouldn’t be with your first choice college.  Talk about nerve-wracking!  You want to walk into your first choice college interview with confidence and only after going through at least a couple of others beforehand.  You’ve got this!
  2. Bring questions to the interview.  Don’t have any?  You’d better find some!  Interviewers want to know if you’ve done your homework, studied the website, checked your intended major requirements, looked at extracurriculars that interest you, discovered their study abroad programs, read the recent issue of the student newspaper, and found a match! Interviewers won’t say it, but they will think you are wasting their time if you can’t come up with some good questions (good = answers to questions that can’t be found on their website) 
  3. When you make your appointment find out if the interview is evaluative or informational.  Evaluative ones (like those given by Wake Forest, Lehigh University, Endicott College, to name a few) mean that the interviewer includes a write-up with your application.  Informational ones are just that:  an exchange of information between the two of you. 
  4. If you’re doing an interview via Skype or Google Hang Outs check the lighting and background through the screen’s view ahead of time.  Skype someone else so they can check that there are no dark shadows on your face or that there isn’t another college’s calendar hanging behind you!  I once worked with a student who, during a mock interview, played with her hair during the entire interview.  I had her hold a pencil, out of view of the screen, to help her stop that habit.  It worked!
  5. What should you wear to the interview?  Having conducted thousands of college interviews myself, I always appreciated students who raised the bar on their clothes agenda.  Choose an outfit that is a step above what you normally wear, something that shows you are serious.  Ripped is out.  Dressy-business works.  I was always impressed when a male student walked in with a jacket and a female student walked in with a dress.  Okay, I may be dating myself but I always thought when the clothes looked great the student valued the event as something important in his/her life.  
  6. The interviewer is looking for fit.  Not only whether you think the college is a good fit for you but whether you are a good fit for the college? When describing their incoming freshman class, can they brag that you were an Eagle Scout or won a seat in the selective state-wide orchestra? Perhaps you started a fund-raising campaign for a non-profit that you plan to continue while you’re a college student.  Before you sit down for the interview, consider this question: What do you bring to the table?
  7.  The interviewer knows nothing about you, as a person.  Be prepared to discuss two or three topics at length such as your school, your favorite subject, the best book you’ve ever read or an important extra-curricular activity.  Passionate is an overused word in the admissions world but don’t hold back when it comes to sharing who you are and what you like!  Be yourself.

Sit back and try to enjoy the meeting if you can.  This is great practical experience because in four short years you may be interviewing for your first professional position!  Good luck.

                                                             ………………

Joanne Clary Apesos is the owner of College Pursuits, a college counseling business in Holliston, Massachusetts.  She has over 25 years in the college business, currently advising high school students and their families in planning their college experience.  Prior to assisting high school students she worked in higher education as an admissions counselor, adjunct faculty and director of student activities at both public and private colleges and universities in the Northeast. She holds a master’s degree in Higher Education from Columbia University and has a College Counseling Certificate through UCLA.  She can be reached at joanneapesos@gmail.com.  Follow her College Pursuits page on Facebook.

 

 

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