Preparing for the personal interview
A college interview, be it on or off-campus, is quite important. It can help you get a one-to-one chance of interacting with an admission officer, senior student, or even an alumnus. It's a platform to showcase your personality, communicate your best traits, and offer other information about yourself that you feel is necessary for the interviewer to know before evaluating you.
The interview is one factor that the admission officers use to compile your profile to reach a certain decision. It's not necessary that it may lead to results that are in your favor; it's merely one of the many tools used to assess candidates.
If ever, the institution of your choice offers you an interview round, don't turn it down. Showing up at the interview is essential to get selected. If you attend an interview, the chances are that you may get an opportunity to study at the college of your choice. But if you miss the chance to show up altogether, then you can say goodbye to that chance as well.
This guide will explain what you need to keep in mind when it comes to attending interviews for college selection. Let's get started.
Preparing for an interview
The first step is to find out whether or not you've secure the interview. For this, you'll need to check the official website of your desired institution regularly. It would also be a good idea to find out what methods are adopted by them for selecting students for interview. Sometimes students are automatically registered on the interview list after application, while in some cases, you need to sign-up and put a request to be considered for an interview. And wait, there's more to it. Often, there are deadlines to sign-up and register to participate in the interview. Keep track of such dates to ensure you don't miss out. You must check your inbox, even the junk and spam folders, from time to time to stay up-to-date with any message from the institution.
Pro tip: Even if you don't wish to go through all the mails, type the word 'interview' and look for any pending mails or invites.
Many interviews may end up lasting from half an hour to an hour, so be prepared for that. You can even participate in an interview sitting at a coffee shop or someplace else if they're not conducted in the college. However, if you're asked to pick a place of your choice, pick a quiet one and the most suitable for your interview to go well. If there are fewer distractions around you, you can focus much better.
How to nail an interview?
It's normal for one to be nervous about an interview. It can be a tiresome and challenging process if you have to give multiple rounds back-to-back. This could get tough since you have to prepare yourself to interact with numerous people using almost the same content repeatedly.
But this is just a phase, and you can surely power through this. You've already surpassed obstacles like extracurriculars, preparing your application, and scoring decent grades. So in place of worrying about this last phase, you should focus on what you might achieve if all goes well!
So let's get down to the preparation.
Ten Possible Questions that might be put up:
Memorizing the answers to the questions listed below won't help, but keeping an open mind and thinking hard enough probably will. Have a look at these questions and figure out how they can help in presenting yourself authentically:
- Why are you looking to study at this college?
- Describe yourself in a few words (at times, they might mention a particular number, say 1-3 words depending on the officer's choice).
- What part of your high school would you do differently if you had a second chance?
- What do you do when you're free (they might cross-question you about the activity you tell them here so be ready to answer more).
- Why this college (you should be familiar with some specific details about the institution. Avoid mentioning their rank. Instead, you can either praise their professors or describe what it was that drew you towards that institution).
- Can you tell us about your weaknesses and strengths? (Here again, a follow-up question might come to ask you 'what have you done to work on your weakness'.)
- What do you plan to do after you're done with college (don't be too specific here. Give a few relevant details as to what you're interested in).
- If you were asked by an alien to go on a space journey at the cost of you not being able to see any of your friends or family ever, will you go (many interviewers throw such weird questions just to see how one would react).
In addition to the above, be sure to thoroughly revise your supplementary essay because there are quite a few possibilities of the interviewer asking you some of these questions:
- An obstacle that you overcame
- What influenced you the most
- Talk about when you resolved a conflict
- Your favorite (author, mentor, person, etc.)
Prepping for your interview
Now comes the most crucial part, your preparation. The days before the big day may seem challenging, but you don't have to give in; this is the time when the actual fight begins!
You need not sit and memorize answers or entire paragraphs. All you need to keep in mind is that you've worked so hard to get into this institution, and it can't go to vain now. All you need to do is find how you fit in the college, and the answers will automatically come to you.
We suggest you bring along a one-page resume. Even if it's not mentioned anywhere that you need to carry it, have one with you anyway that highlights your best aspects. It may even help the recommender to refer to something while pitching. You might also carry a pen and a notepad to take notes for yourself.
The night before the big day is usually filled with nervousness. So, all you need to do is the bare minimum. You shouldn't let your mind get sidetracked. Make sure your outfit is clean and ironed, check the route to the location, and think well in advance about the challenges of transportation that you might have to face. After all this, tuck in for the night without pondering as to what the next day might bring.
Firstly, we recommend you to keep your phone on silent mode and put it away. The only time that you use should your device in an interview is if they ask you to show them the images of a particular project that you've worked on. Yes! Don't forget to clean up your phone from all the unwanted content so that there's nothing embarrassing in there if you scroll too much!
Being nervous is fine. Many of the students out there who appear for an interview are introverts, and because of this, they tend to go quiet or are visibly very nervous. It doesn't have to be this way. If you're an introvert, try telling it to the interviewer. There's quite a chance that even the interviewer was shy during his college days and he may understand your plight.
Now, as you go along, keep thinking about certain incidents or stories that you can use to describe your experiences of life. Gather your thoughts and answer the questions calmly, don't haste into any answer. A fact of key importance is that you need to listen to the interviewer. Don't come off as an over practiced or a know-it-all because it'll only show that you're impatient if you jump in to answer before the question is completed. On the contrary, what you should do is listen and respond to the questions calmly; making some notes would also not harm, and you could use those pointers for future references in some other interview.
When you're done with the interview
Once the interview is over, we recommend you write a thank you note to the interviewer. You can ask for their business card and send them this note by courier. This small gesture will take you a long way. In the note, you can also mention how grateful you are for having given them time and that you learned a lot from your interview. But remember not to panic if they don’t reply to your thank you note.
Key things you shouldn't miss out on
The interview is simply one of the few phrases that might result in your admission. Don't take it as the ONLY CHANCE for you. As mentioned earlier, the interview is to be treated as a conversation and not a monologue or an audition. In the end, you should try to put the best in you out there.
Here are a few reminders that can certainly boost your chances if taken care of:
- Be punctual.
- Don't ever wear dirty or tattered clothes.
- Don't use your phone at any cost unless asked to.
- Maintain a firm handshake.
- Don't start off with your answers before the question completes or show any signs of being over prepared.
- Carefully listen to the interviewer. Missing out on this can be the worst mistake. It might not only show how impatient you are; the interviewer might end up canceling the meet altogether.
Note: If for some reason you need to cancel the interview, don't think that simply not showing up would be okay. It's extremely rude if you do that. Instead, before the actual day, send in a polite and brief mail informing the interviewer explaining why you have to cancel the interview. They will surely understand.
There are multiple ways you can get selected for an interview. You could be invited, or you might have to put in a request. In any case, if you're expecting to get selected, do keep a constant check on your inbox (don’t forget your voicemail and spam folders). Additionally, read the college admissions website regularly to ensure you don’t miss out on any information.
An important point to remember here is that you shouldn't be upset if you don't get a lot of requests for interviews. You should be prepared to not get any requests too. In such a situation, just remind yourself that several students get accepted into amazing colleges even without interviews. If, however, you appear for an interview after it's done, don't over think about your performance. Whenever needed, whether it’s during the interview or after it, put your best foot forward. Look neat and tidy, come off as attentive and polite, and remember to send a thank-you note to the interviewer afterward.
We're sure that you will come out a winner if you take care of all these things. Good luck!