For many schools, the path to admission includes a formal one-on-one interview with an admissions counselor or alumni representative. While some high school students may have experienced a job interview, it is unlikely that students have gone through an interview as important or detailed as this one. A college application interview is an opportunity to highlight your achievements, explain any shortcomings, and show colleges the type of person they will be getting if they extend you an acceptance offer. Below are ten tips to ensure your college application interview is a successful one.
#1 – Dress Professionally
Dressing professionally for an interview is more than simply wearing an old suit or a nice dress. Taking time to look as clean and professional as possible sends a strong message to the person interviewing you that you are taking this process seriously. Be sure your clothes are dry cleaned and fit well. If your professional clothing is too big or small, it is time to purchase a few items that fit you better.
#2 – Share Your Portfolio
Most high school students do not have a resume because they lack a job history. Colleges aren’t looking to find out what positions you have held, they are looking to find out who you are, so use the interview as an opportunity to share what makes you special. You can utilize the myKlovr platform to help you create your portfolio, you’ve already uploaded your grades, awards and achievements, sports teams, volunteer commitments, and more! By presenting your character attributes and accomplishments, you give college interviewers a lot of great information.
#3 – Research The School
Colleges want to accept students who want to specifically come to their school. Even though you may have applied to others, you need to express your interest in attending this one. Your research should include the year it was founded, famous alumni, what programs they are known for, and any recent events they hosted. Try to memorize a few of these facts and bring them up when you are answering questions.
#4 – Research Your Major
In addition to researching the college as a whole, it is essential to dive deep into the major you intend to study. Be prepared to explain why you chose that major and why you want to go to that specific school to study it. If you don’t know that’s ok, research the learning experience at the college. You can focus on educational opportunities abroad, teaching styles, as well as anything that will show to the interviewer that you have done your homework. It is also a good idea to research the faculty and write down any interesting notes about their work.
#5 – Participate In Mock Interviews
Mock interviews allow you to craft the right answers to possible questions. The last thing you want is to forget an important detail or bomb a question because you were not prepared. While it is difficult to know exactly what they will ask, prepare to answer questions about anything you did in high school, why you want to attend that college, what your plans are after college, and stories about how past experiences have helped you become who you are today.
#6 – Know Where The Interview Is Located
It is important to show up at least 15 minutes early to your interview to show you are punctual and respect others’ time. Confirm the location of the interview and who it will be with once the appointment is made. Then, view a map of the school to understand where the building is. If possible, use Google Earth to understand what the building looks like. If the school is local, then take a drive the week before and find the building you need. If you are traveling to the school, arrive 30 minutes early to avoid any wrong turns or unforeseen delays.
#7 – Mind Your Body Language
We are often so focused on the words we are saying we forget that our body language and non-verbal cues speak for us as well. The most important thing to remember is to maintain eye contact throughout the entire interview. If you struggle with this, practice mock interviews with your parents or friends. Be sure to sit up straight at all times, this shows the interviewer you are prepared and ready to take the interview seriously.
#8 – Tell Your Story
The key to a good interview is to stand out from the rest of the candidates. While it’s important to point out all of your accomplishments, you need to find ways to separate yourself from the others. Tell stories about obstacles you have overcome, problems you have solved, or anything unique that the interviewer will remember. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk about anything you feel gives a complete picture of who you are and the value you will bring to the school.
#9 – Convey Your Value
When answering questions, talk about how you see yourself as a student in the school community. Help the interviewer envision what it will be like to have you on campus every day. This includes clubs you plan on joining, classes you’re taking, events you are interested in, and the career you will pursue when you leave. Admissions officers want to make sure that they accept students who will be involved students and engaged alumni.
#10 – Ask Questions
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. This is where you can show your genuine interest in the school and decide if this school is the right fit. Be sure to practice and ask questions about the size of the student body, types of events they host, the internships they offer, partnerships they have with companies, and anything else that helps you get a complete picture of the school.
Interviews do not need to be stressful. Being prepared will allow you to focus on the task at hand of presenting the best version of yourself possible. Do the research, look professional, practice your answers, and ask questions. If you follow all of the tips on the list, you will be able to leave your interview knowing you did your absolute best.
Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.