College Interview Basics

College Interview Basics:  The Opportunity

Some colleges will offer the opportunity to interview on campus or close to your home.  Admissions officers or graduates of the university may do these interviews which are a great way to make a personal impression and learn more about each university in the process.  Students should understand college interview basics before scheduling a meeting. By participating in the interview process students show genuine interest in a university and can make a valuable contact in the admissions office.  An interview also allows students an opportunity to get some of their questions answered as they try to decide which schools would be a best fit.

College Interview Basics:  How To Prepare

Students can take a few key steps to insure they are ready for college interviews.

1.  Research the school.  Get into specifics.  What majors are of interest?  Why do you like that college better than others?  What specific programs does that college offer?  What are the pros and cons of the school?  Why is that school right for you?  Why are you right for that school? Never go into an interview unprepared.  Applicants must know the general information found on the website and in the campus info session and tour.  The interview is the next step in information-gathering.  Students can show they are serious about a school by arriving prepared to discuss details instead of asking introductory questions.

2.  Prepare and polish your resume.  Update and get some help proof reading.  If you are interviewing for a specialized program or specific position, you may want to rearrange your resume to highlight your strengths or the specific qualifications for that program.  Don’t think you need to keep your resume the same for all schools or programs.

3.  Draft a list of questions you want to ask.  Make them count.  Don’t ask questions that could easily be answered with a little research on your part.  Take advantage of the fact that you will be speaking to someone who knows the school well.  Ask for their opinion on specific aspects of the school.

4.  Review sample questions and practice giving answers in your mind.   Be prepared to give a concise response to what you do outside of school and what you are looking for in a college.  Think about how you might answer challenging questions ahead of time, so you can practice what to say and when to stop talking.

5.  Practice with others.  Often teachers, parents of friends, or your counselor can help you prepare for an interview.  You may also want to schedule the interview for your first choice school after interview at other colleges so you will have the benefit of extra practice.  Like other skills, the more you practice, the better you will be.

6.  Make sure you really want to attend the college.  Nothing sinks an interview faster than an applicant with no apparent interest in the college.  If you are genuinely interested then you will take the time and effort to research the school and you will appear interested during the interview.  Too many students admit during interviews that a school is their last choice back up or that they are only applied because their parents made them.  Don’t waste your time or theirs if you don’t care about the school.

Understanding college interview basics and taking time to practice and prepare will help most applicants make a favorable impression and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about particular universities.

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