You’ve studied hard, survived testing, written your admissions essays, and submitted great references – the payoff is that you’ve been granted an admission interview with one of your top colleges. If you’re like most high school students, you’re both thrilled and anxious; especially if you see yourself as somewhat of an introvert or have trouble dealing with questions in person. Here’s a quick guide to help you succeed with your admissions interview.
Practice, Practice, Practice
It sounds silly, but one of the easiest things you can do is to practice common interview questions with friends and family members. Admission officers frequently work from a very limited list of questions, therefore being prepared for the most common ones will improve your odds of doing well during the exam. Be cautious, however, that you don’t simply memorize what you think is the best answer; officers will have heard all the generic answers. Be sure to answer questions in a genuine and thoughtful manner.
Know Your Successes, Strengths and Weaknesses
Students frequently get flustered when they’re asked questions in person, forgetting all their own great accomplishments when put on the spot. Make a mental note of 3 to 5 successes that you think make you stand out from other applicants, and know your strengths both in the classroom and outside of it in extracurricular activities. No one is perfect, however, so be able to identify and verbalize 1 or 2 weaknesses in yourself, to which you can speak on actively working to improve. In all cases, be confident in your answers and you’ll make a great impression.
Don’t Bury Your Head in a Book
Admissions officers frequently use news events and current affairs to get to know students’ personalities. Simply picking up the morning newspaper or checking in on top news events on TV can help you not only keep perspective before your interview, but also give you the ability to respond quickly with a well-rounded answer. If possible, try to engage the admissions officer in discussion, rather than simply giving your opinion.
Interviewers are looking not for the details but for an overall impression of you. If you did your mock interviews, appeared relaxed and confident in answering their questions, and engaged in two-way conversation, you will have made a good impression.