HomeArticles“A”-cing The College Interview

Scott, Cherry Creek High SchoolDear Estelle,
I am receiving invitations to interview with alumni from colleges where I have applied regular decision. Naturally this is very exciting but I’m swamped with AP classes, final semester exams, and my job. Rumor is that these interviews are optional and aren’t significant in determining actual acceptance into the Ivies and other selective colleges. What are your thoughts?Scott, Cherry Creek High School

If you have the opportunity to interview, do it absolutely. There is no better way to showcase yourself than meeting face to face with an admissions rep or an alum from a college. Interviewing is a great way to show “demonstrated interest” in a school. By showing up and interacting with the interviewer you are showing you have a significant interest in attending that school.

Interviewing can make you nervous but essentially you are conversing about someone you know very well. YOU. To offset the nerves it is important to be prepared. You might say how can I be prepared if I don’t know the questions. The most typical questions is “tell me about yourself.” Write down the answer and include some of the important things you’ve been involved with. Have someone close to you do a “mock” interview with you to help you relax. Brainstorming and conversing out loud prior to the interview builds confidence.

Some interviewers don’t use prepared questions wanting the interview to seem relaxed and conversational. In this case, you must be completely prepared by having a whole list of items about yourself that you feel are significant. Create a list ahead of time of all the important activities or issues that you want to share with the interviewer and work these into the interview to document your involvement and creativity. Remember this is the time to talk about your accomplishments without bragging.

When responding to a question, don’t simply answer the question but add some supporting evidence. For example, if asked what you enjoyed about your lacrosse experience, answer by mentioning the opportunity to play with a wonderful group of people and then add how you went to State or worked with some younger players as a mentor.This will lead to additional opportunities to share more about your experiences.

It is more than likely you will be asked why you want to attend this particular school or why you think it is a good fit for you. Be specific in your answer citing actual reasons you would like to attend. “This school has an amazing creative writing department and I would like to continue writing poetry and eventually complete a novel.”

Remember to mention how you plan to bring your volunteer commitments to the university.

Finally, ask some questions about the school. You are a consumer of colleges and should feel free to inquire. This too shows “demonstrated interest.”

A Few Tips

  • Make eye contact, shake hands and use the interviewer’s name.
  • Dress appropriately with minimal jewelry and cologne.
  • Write a thank you note after the interview and include an item you might have forgotten during the interview.

Interviewing gets easier with time and by the last one you will feel more relaxed and confident.

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