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Interview Mastery: Achieving College Admissions Success with These Proven Strategies

Student Life

February 02, 2023

The college interview is often viewed as a rite of passage. This nerve-wracking experience can make or break your chances of getting into your dream school. But what if I told you it doesn't have to be that way?

What if I told you the college interview is an opportunity to showcase your true personality and potential contributions to the college community? Think of it as a stage, a chance to shine and show the college who you truly are. But how do you ensure you stand out in a sea of applicants?

Well, it's simple, embracing your creativity, preparing thoroughly, and exuding confidence. From highlighting your passions to showcasing your leadership skills, there are countless ways to make a lasting impression during your college interview. So, grab your script, rehearse your lines, and discover unique and creative ways to ace your college interview and secure the college acceptance of a lifetime.

Do your research

College interviewers at any college, especially highly selective institutions, look for evidence that college applicants strongly desire to attend their school. Before heading to your interview, you must do your research. Not only the school but also your interviewer.

Researching the person conducting your interview before the actual interview is the perfect opportunity for you to 'wow' your interviewer. Not only can it help make good conversation and allow you to ask the right questions, but it will also help you prove how much you appreciate the chance you've been given and allow you to connect with your interviewer on a deeper level. It can be tricky to carry out all the investigations by yourself.

However, there are numerous ways to learn more about your interviewer when conducting your research. Try going on their LinkedIn, Social Media, or Alumni pages to learn more about them before meeting them. Using the information gathered from your interviewer, you could find some common ground and shared academic topics or interests that you could weave into your interview.

Most importantly, you must research the school you're being interviewed for. I know this goes without saying, but you need to be prepared to discuss specific aspects of the school that interest you, programs you might be interested in, and other unique aspects of the college that speaks to you.

It can seem challenging and even exhausting when you have multiple interviews in one day or various schools to interview for overall. However, if you dedicate the time to informing yourself about the college's offerings, your interviewer will be more likely to have a favorable opinion about you and leave a good note to the admissions officers on your behalf.

Practice your interview questions

Many college experts and alumni interviewers recommend that college applicants simulate the interview experience by conducting mock interviews and preparing answers for potential questions that may come up during your interview. By doing so, you will better understand the format of interviews and how to naturally answer any questions thrown your way. Gather a friend, family member, or teacher and have them read off any potential questions your interviewer may ask. You can use the feedback from those around you to implement your improved habits in your interview. If you're struggling to come up with some prep questions yourself, then here is a list below:

  • So, what sparked your interest in our college?

  • Any particular major you're interested in pursuing at our college? Why is that?

  • What's been the most important extracurricular activity to you in high school? Why?

  • What have you liked most about your high school?

  • If you could change one thing about your high school, what would it be?

  • What subject do you enjoy most?

  • What has been your most challenging course during high school? How did you cope with/overcome the challenges associated with this course?

  • What do you consider your proudest achievement so far?

  • What do you like to do for fun?

  • How would your friends describe you?

  • What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?

  • What's your favorite book?

  • What's your opinion on a current event that interests you or that you feel passionate about?

  • If you could change 1 thing about your school, what would it be?

Bring questions for your interviewer

One way to make a positive impression during an interview is by asking well-thought-out questions. Typically, when it comes to college interviews, you're in the hot seat first. However, once the interview comes to an end, most interviewers will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" The only correct answer is always YES!

You should always have a handful of questions prepared for your interview because it shows interest. By going the extra mile to ask questions, you demonstrate that you are willing to properly prepare for this interview. If you're finding it challenging to come up with questions to ask your interviewer, here is a list for you to refer to:

  • Can you tell me more about (the academic program you're interested in)?

  • What was your experience like?

  • What would you have done differently during your college experience?

  • How did going to this school help you get where you are today?

  • What is your favorite thing about this college? Least favorite?

  • Any advice for incoming freshmen?

  • What sets this school apart from the others?

  • How would you describe the atmosphere of this college/campus?

  • If they're alumni: why did you decide to attend this college in particular? What did you think of your time at school here?

  • What is something you would change about college if you had the opportunity?

  • What do you think about X (something unique and specific to the college)?

Be yourself

Your interviewer wants to get to know you as a person, so it's essential to relax enough so that your personality shines through. However, it isn't the time to elaborate on inappropriate topics, such as your political views or indecent humor. Keep aspects of yourself that are relevant to your application and display that side of you to your interviewer.

Being yourself includes avoiding memorizing your interview answers to the point where you sound robotic when reciting your answers. Applicants should try to be natural and conversational because the whole point of the interview is to talk with your interviewer, not answer a verbal quiz.

Bring a resume

This is the most underrated college interview tip, but it is recommended that you bring your resume for your interviewer. A resume allows you to organize your thoughts on your extracurriculars while providing some documentation to your interviewers. If you need help figuring out where to start your conversation, looking at your resume could guide you on what to talk about.

Dress Appropriately

Many students have trouble figuring out what to wear on the day of the college interview. This depends on a couple of factors, such as the setting of your interviews and what each college desires. If there are no specific instructions on what to wear, you should strive for business casual.

You should dress in comfortable clothing but also something polished and professional. This includes no ripped jeans, crop tops, or any attire that may not be appropriate for the setting.

Troubleshoot technology beforehand

After Covid-19, many aspects of life have changed a lot. That includes jobs, school work, and even how we tackle the college application process. Now we have test-optional school, but we also have many more virtual interviews.

This makes interviews a lot more convenient and accessible for applicants who previously couldn't get an interview because of location issues and availability. However, with such great benefits comes great responsibility.

Before starting your virtual interview, it's important to make sure your wife is stable, your devices are charged (if you're using a laptop, tablet, or phone), and ensure that you have the correct links available to join your meeting. Staying on top of your technology is a crucial step in allowing you to progress through your interview flawlessly without interruptions.

Acing your college interview may seem like a daunting task. Still, you can turn it into a memorable and successful experience with some creativity and preparation. It is an opportunity to showcase your unique personality, interests, and talents.

Be yourself, let your passion and enthusiasm shine through, and don't be afraid to think outside the box. The college interviewer wants to get to know you, and your responses should reflect your individuality. The college is not just looking for a student but also a leader, a game changer, and a future innovator, and you have the potential to be all that.

So, go forth and leave your mark on your interviewer. Good luck!

Williana Serve
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Williana is currently a freshman in college. She likes to learn new things especially involving Law & Advocacy. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she can be found watching TikTok, YouTube, or reading.