Applying for college or university is a stressful experience, but being selected to attend an interview causes even higher levels of anxiety. These types of meetings are entirely alien to most students and completely different from what you have experienced in normal school life.
Therefore, it is essential that you prepare correctly – not only to give yourself the best chance of success but also to help you to control your nerves on the day of the interview.
As interviews are now almost standard practice, many schools will do all they can to help students prepare for the big day. This often includes running through role-plays to give you some indication of what to expect.
Of course, all interviews are different and different colleges will have different formats. However, the types of questions will be the same as will the information that they are trying to glean.
Some interviews may take place at the college, where in some cases representatives from the college may come to your school or boarding residents.
If you are expecting to have to attend a college interview, here are ten tips to give you the best chance of success:
1. Keep Things in Perspective
There is no escaping the fact that the interview is important, but other factors will be taken into account. The interviewer will expect you to be nervous and they want to see how you respond in an unfamiliar environment.
The interview is more about learning who you are as a person, your personality and your character traits. You need to show off your personality but, most critically, you need to take it seriously and not “play the joker”.
Also, your exam grades will tell them what they want to know about your academic ability.
2. Arrive in Plenty of Time
Nothing makes you more anxious and stressed than being late, especially for something which your future may be riding on.
Make sure you arrive in plenty of time. It is far better to arrive early – just be mindful not to arrive too early that you give yourself time to become nervous.
There is likely to be a café nearby where you can get a drink and try to relax, as hard as it may be.
Aim to get to the interview room 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start of your interview.
3. Be Yourself
The purpose of the interview is to learn about your personality, and they want to be confident that you will fit in at their college. Talk clearly and confidently about the things that you enjoy and what inspired you to apply for their college and the particular course.
Also, talk about your plans for the future, what do you want to do after you finish college?
Remember, no one will hold you to what you say now, but it is good to demonstrate that you have some ambition.
4. Be On Your Best Behavior
Most of us have different sides to our personality, some of which are best reserved for our friends and family!
During the interview, you need to prove that you can be professional and mature enough to handle the course you have applied for. It is an opportunity to showcase the best side of your personality.
Don’t look like you have just got out of bed or behave like the interview is an inconvenience and you have much better things to do.
They want to understand your attitude in a professional environment, but they also wish your interview goes well so they won’t be trying to trip you up!
5. Be Mindful of Your Social Media Accounts
Although it is not something which we want to dwell on, interviewers are well-known for checking applicant’s social media accounts for any skeletons in the closet.
Think about what you post especially in the run-up to your interview, and if you have posted things that you may now regret, it may be wise to delete them.
If you can’t trust yourself, at least check your privacy settings!
6. Prepare Yourself for Expected Questions
In preparing for your college interview, there are some common questions you should familiarize yourself with. You can then prepare for these questions by considering your answer.
Here are some of those questions:
- Why do you want to attend this particular college? Be positive and specific with your answer
- What are your favourite subjects at school? If they ask in the plural, mention two or three. Give reasons why and be specific
- What are your hobbies and interests outside of school? Again be specific and don’t just say “hang out with friends”
- Tell me about a problem or obstacle that you have had to overcome. They are looking to see how you respond to issues and adversity
- Tell me something about yourself? Tell them interesting things about yourself but don’t be too big-headed and talk for too long!
7. Bring Specific Questions With You
They will ask you at the end of the interview if you have any questions and you will be expected to ask some. It is best to prepare these beforehand as thinking of questions when put on the spot can be difficult.
Be creative and interesting with your questions as it will make you more memorable but try to make sure that you can’t find the answers on the college’s website.
8. Forget About How Long the Interview is Taking
Most interviews will take between 30 minutes and one hour but don’t be tempted to keep looking at the clock.
Although it is easier said than done, try to forget about the time aspect and focus on giving an excellent portrayal of yourself.
9. Practice Beforehand with Family Members or Friends
Like with anything, the more you practice, the more familiar you will become with it and indeed practising for an interview is no different. Try to run through role-plays with your friends and family as much as possible. Ask for feedback about how you could improve your answers.
10. Thank Them at the End of the Interview
It is plain good manners to thank the interviewers for their time at the end of the interview. Don’t go over the top but some acknowledgement is expected.
In fact, it is more likely to be noticed if you don’t say thank you.
Finally, good luck! With these tips to help you prepare, you’re sure to ace that college interview!