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College interviews, although nerve wrecking, can be the best chance for a student to shine. College interviews give you a chance to come alive, beyond the paper of an essay. Not many students get this chance, so if you do, make the most of it, because this might be your last chance to impress the admissions officer.
Have you heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it”? Apply this to your interviews, and everything will be fine. Appear confident, even if you don’t feel it. There are physical ways you can show your interviewer that you are confident. Sit up straight (don’t slouch), keep a soft smile on your face, don’t fidget (this is the most common type of cue for nervousness), and make eye contact (looking down shows you are nervous).
Pay attention to what they are saying, smile if they are smiling at you, initiate a handshake if they don’t and most importantly try to ask a question about something they have mentioned before. This will show them that you are listening and paying attention.
Everyone in the room including the interviewer is nervous. You can ease this by creating a rapport with them and by diffusing the tension. Make appropriate jokes. The more you are at ease with the interviewer, the more they will like you. Always appear enthusiastic, ask them how they are and about their day.
Ask them something about their school, show interest in what they are talking about. If they mention a movie, expand on it or mention your favourite movie. Although your aim should be to make yourself likeable, don’t pretend to like something you don’t like. There is a difference between being coy and sweet. Being dishonest will have the opposite effect.
Following these basic steps will create a favourable impression and likeable.
You may think what you say is very important, but actually the way you say it is even more important. This is a visual world so a lot of what you communicate is through gesture and posture as well as facial expression. That smile you have on your face as you start the interview should be employed throughout the interview. You need to look at your interviewer with interest. Eyes narrow and widen indicate interest and that you are hearing. In other words, it’s okay to let your facial expressions show and help you tell about yourself.
Movement is also important. You are not at attention, and stiffness can indicate lack of personality, fear, or indifference. Think about keeping your arm movement within the zone of your torso and not letting your hands flutter. Another problem with movement is if it is repetitive or nervous. Crossing and uncrossing your legs is a problem. Using the same hand gesture over and over is like using a word too much.
Aside from crossing your arms and slouching, other non-verbals to avoid are staring, scowling, narrowing your eyes, clenching your teeth, pointing your finger at the interviewer, slapping your knee, holding onto the edge of the chair, sitting in the edge of the chair, reaching into the interviewer’s space, chewing gum, or hanging you head.
The effect of non-verbals is to appear relaxed and friendly. You should also be open to the other person, indicated by eye contact and leaning toward, not away from him or her.
An interview is not a test: you are not simply providing answers to questions that the interviewer is asking, you are making conversation through questions. The conversation should flow and be reciprocated. It should be a two-way street, and not just the interviewer asking you the questions. Always give full answers and try to avoid one-word responses. You can answer the interviewer’s questions, and then make small talk about where they went to school. You can ask the interviewer what they studied, and what interests them the most. Show them that you are comfortable making conversation with another adult.
Tell me about yourself.
Why are you interested in this school?
What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?
What is your favourite … ?
The interviewer should be comfortable ending the interview. The interview should flow and end naturally. One question you should always ask at the end is for their business card or email address. When the interviewer is done with their questions, they will most likely stand up and that is your cue to stand up as well. You should stand up as well, shake hands and thank them for the opportunity to meet. Remember to be enthusiastic with a big smile so they feel good before parting ways. After thanking the interviewer, confidently walk out and look back with a smile before finally walking out.
The takeaway here is to be confident. The interviewer is just as nervous as you, so just smile and go with the flow.