College Interview Tips

Your child hit “submit” on their application . . . but that does not mean the application process is over. Many colleges offer students the opportunity to interview. There are two types of college interviews: the evaluative and the informational. An evaluative interview is intended to help a college assess the strength of a student’s application for admission. The interviewer is usually a member of the admissions office staff (including student interns) who provides a written report to the admissions file. An informational interview is intended to provide students with information about the college. The interviewer may be a member of the admissions office, but alumni frequently conduct this type of interview. Even in an informational interview the interviewer may submit a written report or summary of the interview, so students want to make  sure to make a positive impression.

Some colleges require, or highly recommend, an interview. These interviews are typically evaluative, and students should thoroughly prepare for them. Even where not required, students should take advantage of the opportunity to have a college interview. Attending an interview is an excellent way to demonstrate interest to a college, which can be a factor in some admissions reviews.

A Few Tips

  • Dress neatly, but don’t overdo it.
  • Look the interviewer in the eye.
  • Give the interviewer a firm handshake (if meeting in person).
  • Do your homework before the interview: review the college website.
  • Do your homework before the interview: google the interviewer and see what, if anything, you can learn.
  • Do your homework before the interview: review your application!
  • Prepare a few thoughtful questions about the college.
  • Know what you want to convey to the interviewer: make a list of two or three academic topics and extracurricular activities you want to be sure to discuss.
  • Bring a copy of your resume or activities list.
  • Voice your opinion if appropriate but be respectful of other points of view.
  • Elaborate on your answers to questions. Interviewers want to know more than “yes” or “no.”
  • Speak clearly.
  • Write a thank-you note immediately after the interview.

 

A Few (Virtual) Tips

  • Make sure the volume is turned up on your computer and there is no background noise.
  • Make sure you are dressed appropriately from top to bottom even all of you is not visible on the computer screen.
  • Make sure your computer is properly adjusted so the camera is at eye level.
  • Check the lighting – make sure there are no shadows or glare.
  • Check the background – make sure there is a neutral background.
  • If possible, email the interviewer in advance of the interview and ask if they would like a copy of your resume.
  • Attend an admissions office information session, especially if your interview is evaluative.

 

Whether  evaluative or informational the interview is an opportunity for students to present themself in a three-dimensional way. An interview allows students to showcase their personality, share their interests and accomplishments, and, importantly, learn more about the college. For this reason, even thought students may want to sit back and relax after they have hit submit, they should prepare for interviews with the same care and attention they gave to every other part of their college application.