College Help: Interviews

An often-ignored aspect of college applications, the interview is actually a great opportunity to show colleges who you are as a person rather than a bunch of papers.

 We teens tend to stress about interviews, thinking that we have to answer every question perfectly or our interviewer is sure to write terrible things about us. But this isn’t true! In most cases, interviews can only help you, not hurt you. Unless you are a rude jerk (which most people aren’t), your interviewer will understand that you are probably nervous and will ignore any minor mistakes. To do your best at an interview, keep these things in mind:

 Do some prep beforehand. Think about how you will answer basic questions like “Why do you want to come to our college?” or “What are your favorite subjects in school?” You don’t want to sound robotic or rehearsed, but “Um, I don’t know” is not a good answer to any interview question.

 Remember that the interview is a chance for you to ask about the college, not just the other way around. Bring a few questions that you genuinely want answered, and try to avoid questions that could be easily be answered by a brochure. You want to sound like you’ve actually researched the college!

 Be positive and confident, but not arrogant. Avoid being too humble or denying your accomplishments—the interviewer will probably believe you! Take pride in what you’ve done, just avoid going on and on about it. Also avoid being negative or blaming others for your problems (i.e. “My SAT scores suck because the proctor was really mean” or “I got a C in math because my teacher hated me”).

 Use the interview as a chance to tell the college things they might not know just by reading your application. For example, if you practiced every day for three months so that you could make Varsity Track, tell them about it! Or if you have a few Bs on your transcript because you have responsibilities at home (like taking care of a sick family member), mention that too.

 On the day of the interview, be prepared. Plan to arrive early and dress appropriately (definitely no sweatpants, but you don’t need a suit either—nice jeans and a dressy shirt are fine). Also, watch your body language! Be prepared to shake hands, and don’t slouch or fidget. Remember to smile and look like you want to be there.

 After the interview, don’t sweat the small things. Most of all, send a thank-you card! This shows thoughtfulness and it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Hopefully these tips will help you feel better prepared for your interviews, but if you want more advice, check out these websites:

College Board: Interview Basics

College Apps: 10 College Interview Mistakes

CBS Money Watch: 13 Questions You Should Ask

Post by Callan, teen blogger

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