It is not enough to have an idea of what the questions are at a college interview. It is not enough, either, to think briefly about what you might say and feel you’re prepared. To be fully prepared for a college interview, you need to seek all possible answers by brainstorming and researching, outlining your answers, and practicing your answers.
You will be surprised at how unprepared you will feel if you only think through possible answers to questions for a college interview in a brief way. First, when you are in an interview you are not as glib or easy-going as usual and will forget some of what you might have said. Also, without OUT LOUD practice, you will find it is not always as easy to say what you think. Finally, without real meat gathered by exploring all possible answers, you will find yourself with too little to say more often than not.
So what to do?
Start by considering everything you might say in an answer. If the question is How would you describe your friendships?, you need to brainstorm. Ask friends and parents the same question. Write down your own thoughts, leave them, and think again a little later, trying to add to your original thoughts. Do you have a large number of friends, friends from long ago, a small intimate groups of friends? Do your friends reflect you or offer divergent lifestyles and viewpoints from you? Do you depend on friends, help them, spend all your free time with them? Are your family members friends? What about pets? What do you and your friends discuss, share, and do together? Why do you have friends? Do you think there is a big difference between your friends and associates? Have you learned anything from your friends? How have friends disappointed you?
If the question is How would you describe the typical sophomore at our institution? This question really asks what you know about the student body at this college, how you see yourself fitting in, and what kind of adjustment tends to happen between the first year of college and the second. There are hidden questions in the larger one, too. The interviewer may want to know how you see yourself interacting at this college with other students and whether or not you have good feelings about the atmosphere of the college. Now, what do you look for to answer this? You might want to do some research. Find out what is the most common major, what the student profile is (the average SAT score, class ranking, etc.), how many years it takes most students to graduate from this college, where students live—in the dorm or off-campus–, what kinds of activities are offered by the college and which are the most popular, or you might want to know what the student/faculty ratio is or how large the class sizes are. All of this information can help you describe what a student at this college might be like and how you would fit with that image.
Next, you want to figure out how much of your thoughts and information you want to include in your answer, and formulate the answer so it makes sense and presents you both honestly and in the best light. The cardinal rule is to have 3 basic answers for a question. The three answers may be in the form of reasons, explanations, examples, or descriptions. Then you should note as many specifics about each of the three as you can muster.
For the question, How would you describe your friendships? an outlined answered could look like this:
- Lots of friends
- Involved in activities both social and athletic
- Like a variety
- Join in different recreations
- Close to one or two
- But since 4th grade Amy and John
- Discuss anything
- They help me and I help them
- My brother
- Two years older
- Had our fights
- Same traits and can problem solve together
For the question, How would you describe the typical sophomore at our institution?, based on what you know about the school, an outlined answer could be this:
- Music major
- Great music program and related activities and that’s why I like this school
- Member of jazz band
- Getting involved while learning
- Involved in small class discussion
- Like this college’s class size
- Learn best when talking with others
- Visited a class and saw the warmth and openness of class
- Living on campus
- You have dorm suites and I like that feeling of having several roommates
- Want a family type atmosphere
- Want to be close to classes and activities and study help
There is still another step! It could make the difference between a good interview and a great interview. You really should practice out loud with your own words how you would say this. Just start; if you can say everything in the outline above well and with the right emphasis to sell you and your interest in the college, you’re golden; but more likely you will find yourself stumbling over words. If you practice a few times, the words will flow better.
How would you start an answer for the question: How would you describe the typical sophomore at our institution?
Would you say : I’m coming here to major in music or would you start by saying I see about 40% of the majors are in music here at U X, and that’s why I hope to be going here because I have a strong interest in music. Even though I can’t declare a major until I’m a junior, I hope to be learning about music from day one by being part of the jazz band, which I belong to now in high school….
How would you answer: How would you describe your friendships?
Might you start with your brother or with a variety of friends? Would you begin by talking about what different types of friends offer?
I have a lot of friends from my basketball team and from Student council and Key Club. I really enjoy being with them all, as they come from all parts of the school and from my town. I end up doing lots of different things with them. Some like movies, some party, some go camping, and I get to do all these things with them. But, maybe they are really more like acquaintances or first tier friends, because I don’t tell these friends my secrets…
Is this the way you want to describe the larger circle of friends you have, as acquaintances, or as something else?
You need to prepare and practice for the best interview!