In the past, to get accepted by a college or university of choice, students would work hard to get high entrance test scores and submit well-written, lengthy essays and letters of recommendation. Today, there is another part of the whole screening process that students need to prepare and work hard for as well: the admission interview.
All schools today conduct admission interviews not only as a standard protocol, but also to make sure that they get to know each applicant better and get an assurance that the student would be a good fit for (and even an asset to) their institution. It is therefore important to devote the right amount of time and effort to preparing for your college admission interview.
Acing the Interview
Passing a college admission interview with flying colors will depend greatly on how well you prepare for it. You can achieve this goal by following the useful prep tips below:
1. Read up on the school.
First things first: Get to know the institution you want to enter. Know its complete address, how many campuses they have, the current head or dean, etc. Equip yourself with important details about why you want to take up your chosen course at their college.
During the interview, you will be asked why you are applying and you can answer this question satisfactorily by providing concrete examples of what you like about the school: their facilities, instructors, use of technology, and the unique learning experiences they offer, and so on. You have no good excuse for not knowing about the school and your preferred course since you can get all the details you need from their website or brochure.
2. Go over your submitted application form and personal essay.
The college admission officers will base their questions on everything that you placed on the application and personal essay submitted. As such, you will be able to come up with impactful and consistent responses, if you take the time to read these documents before the interview.
In addition, going over your submitted paperwork will help you anticipate and prepare good answers to any related questions the interviewers may ask, such as your preferred extracurricular activities or why you like a particular subject in school.
3. Prepare good answers to some common admission interview questions.
When applying to a college or university, nearly all admission officers will ask the same questions:
- Why did you choose our school?
- Why are you interested in your chosen course?
- What makes you a good candidate for this school?
By anticipating these questions, you will have enough time to think of good answers which you can say during the interview and help you stand out from the other candidates. However, don’t memorize your answers. Interviewers are not particularly impressed by applicants who speak like robots because of their rehearsed and memorized responses.
4. Practice being more conversational.
Since interviewers are rarely captivated by candidates who appear stiff and deliver memorized, prepared lines, providers of international student consulting services say that you need to learn how to be a natural, confident conversationalist. You can do this by listening to what the interviewer is saying, fully understanding his or her questions, and using the answers you prepared only as a guide.
You can learn and develop this skill by practicing with a friend, classmate, teacher, or even a parent. Tell your practice partner that he or she should inform you immediately if you start sounding too formal and monotonous.
5. Prepare your outfit and everything you will bring for the interview beforehand.
For the interview, choose an outfit that is comfortable yet smart-looking. This means that shirts, jeans, and sneakers are out. If you really want to impress admission officers, you won’t go wrong with opting for business casual attire.
In addition, don’t forget to bring the essentials, like pens and a notepad so that you can write down some important details or instructions the interviewers will give you. Also, you can bring a copy of your transcripts, resume, the essay, and the completed application form you submitted which you can go over if you have some spare time.
6. Arrive early for the interview.
You won’t score any points if you arrive late for the interview. If you arrive several minutes after your schedule without sending any notification, your interviewers may decide to cancel the interview since they don’t know if you’ll be arriving.
You not only wasted your time going to school but more importantly, you inadvertently gave the impression that you are lacking some key attributes, such as being punctual and responsible.
7. During the interview, remember and apply everything you practiced.
Whenever you are asked a question, make sure you listen and understand it well. Wait until the interviewer stops talking before you answer, even if you have your reply ready. Again, give answers that are tailored to the question and not the ones you practiced at home. In case you can’t think of a good response, ask for further explanation of the question and answer as decisively and positively as you can.
Also, being a good conversationalist means asking the interviewers some questions as well. College admission officers expect all applicants to do this; if you do so, you show that you have a keen interest in their school. You can ask when the next term officially starts or how long before you will be notified if you have been accepted.
Lastly, always smile! Your smile will let the interviewers know that you are really excited about going to their school and this will help make you feel more confident throughout the interview.
If you devote enough time and effort to preparing for your college admission interview, your chances of getting into your school of choice will certainly be higher.
Brian Giroux is an experienced college admissions advisor and co-founder of Capital College Consulting. Brian is a Professional Member of Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA). Brian has worked with students from over 30 countries to help provide guidance through the US admissions process.
Brian’s experience includes 18+ years in education serving multiple roles as educator, athletic director, and college admissions consultant.