College admissions interviews give students the opportunity to highlight their best qualities while giving the colleges a chance to see a student’s personality. Interviews aren’t usually required, but at International College Counselors we encourage students to meet with college interviewers whenever possible. Here are 10 tips for success with the college admissions interview:
Plan your answers. Interviewers will almost always start off the interview by saying, “Tell me about yourself.” Be prepared with a memorable answer conveying your enthusiasm for your chosen major, your future ambitions, and some positive qualities and/or things you’re involved in. Another frequent question is some version of Why do you want to attend our college? Make sure to review the school’s website before your interview and remember a few specific ways you hope to optimize your time on campus.
Be prepared for the tricky questions. Interviewers may ask something like What does being intellectual mean? or If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? Prepare an answer in advance! If you’re asked a question you haven’t prepared for, don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer, “That’s a really interesting question,” and pause for a moment while you think about your answer.
Ask thoughtful questions. Just as you should prepare answers, prepare questions as well. It is important to know if your interviewer is an alumnus or an admissions representative, as you may want to ask different questions. It’s OK to consult your list of questions. Don’t ask questions that can easily be answered on the college’s website. Show preparation and listen attentively to the interviewer’s response.
Practice makes perfect. Sit down with a friend, family member, or expert college advisor from International College Counselors and practice for your interview. Practice answering the most common college interview questions. Mock interviews will help you feel more prepared and confident.
Get familiar with Zoom (or other virtual interview software). Download software on your device beforehand. It is best to use a laptop or desktop computer rather than your cellphone. If you are not familiar with Zoom/Google Meet/Skype, practice using the software with a friend before your interview.
Dress appropriately. Wear “business casual” attire. Hoodies and T-shirts are not appropriate. Think respectful and comfortable, and you’ll make a great first impression.
Use professional video conferencing etiquette. Make sure your device is charged and has a strong internet connection. Check that your default profile name is appropriate (first and last name). Choose a well-lit, quiet space to do your interview, but the light source should not be behind you. If you cannot find a blank wall or clean room for your interview, use a virtual background. Stick to something solid and simple. Communicate with your family beforehand to avoid any interruptions. Silence your phone and turn off notifications to avoid any distractions
Be early, but not too early. Different from an in-person interview, it is best to log on 2-3 minutes early for a virtual interview, as you don’t want to interrupt any earlier interviews happening in the same “meeting room.” Double check the date, time, and time zone!
Pay attention to details. Make sure you maintain eye contact by looking at the camera, and display good body language. Smile, and be positive and polite.
Send a thank you note. After your interview, send a thank you note to your interviewer. Send this note via email or snail mail; do not use text. Thank them for their time and make sure you refer to something you discussed during your meeting. This will help them remember you.
Good luck with your interviews!