|Tips for Successful College Admission Interviews|
For many young people, the idea of a face-to-face interview for college admission is daunting. Why? Many high school students have had little experience talking with adults they don't know about their goals and experiences. It can be uncomfortable. It can be easier, however, if students are prepared. This article describes ways to make your students feel more confident about the interview process.
When it comes to admission interviews, potential interviewers can range from an admission officer on a college campus to a current student to an alumnus in the area. Not all schools require an interview, but if it's a possibility, an interview is highly recommended. Let your students know that the interview is not intended to be a gut-wrenching or torturous experience, even though it may seem like that to them. The interview is one more way for a student to display a strong interest in a school, and it lets the interviewer get to know the personality behind the grades and test scores. It allows a borderline student to present him- or herself as a winning candidate by virtue of sincerity or charm, to explain any extenuating circumstances that affected academic performance, and to describe the ways he or she will contribute to the school.
The number one tip for students facing an interview is quite simple: practice. Engaging in mock interviews with parents, counselors, or fellow students is the very best tool for improvement. Students should learn to monitor their vocabulary for slang, pauses, and banalities. Common expressions such as "like" and "you know" can sound extremely sloppy when repeated again and again. If you have the ability to record your students, it can be an eye-opener for them to hear themselves as they really sound.
You can help your students by pointing out areas of strength as well as items they may want to work on. Instructing your students to simply make eye contact, smile, stand up straight, give a firm handshake, etc. may seem insignificant, but many young people lack interviewing experience and can benefit greatly from this type of advice.
Each student should focus on a few key points (interests, achievements, or personal strengths) that he or she will feel comfortable talking about. Every interview will be different, but it's always best to show up prepared. Among the most commonly asked questions are the following:
As with any interview, students ought to be prepared but seem relaxed. There's no need to memorize speeches or sound like a robot, but they should have answers to these kinds of questions in mind.
Of course, students should conduct themselves appropriately at all times. This applies to language, dress, posture, humor, etc. They should seek to engage in a two-way conversation, expressing an interest in the person asking the questions, rather than answering with just a yes or no.
They should also bring some questions of their own. Asking questions can be a great way to learn more about the school, especially if the interviewer is an alumnus. What's the town like? Dorm life? Academic load? Are the professors accessible and friendly? What is the best thing about the school? Is there a club or activity he or she recommends?
Above all, remind your students that they should be themselves. There's no point in saying what they think an interviewer wants to hear; people can see through an insincere answer. Teenagers aren't expected to have all the answers, and it's better to be honest if there's something they don't know or haven't had time to consider. For example, if an interviewee is asked about his or her potential major but doesn't have a specific one in mind, it's best to say, "I'm really not sure at this point. But what I've enjoyed most in high school is..."
After an interview, it is common for students to harbor doubts about their performance. It may help to remind them that an interviewer isn't focused on each word and gesture but on gaining an overall impression. An interviewer is looking for students with the background and self-possession to do well at a particular school.
The best advice is to be on time, be positive, be relaxed, and be respectful. And when the interview is over, remind your student to send the interviewer a thank-you note right away!