Like many aspects of the application process, the college interview can be a source of anxiety. If you’re like many college applicants, this may very well be your first formal interview. Certainly, it won’t be your last. And while there’s no formula for a good interview, with a little preparation (and a few tips), you can build skills that will increase your chances of admissions, and benefit you throughout your career.

Before the Interview: Do Some Research

If you want to interview well, do a bit of preparation in advance.

Firstly, you’ll want to identify what kind of interview you’ll have. Will it be on campus, with an admissions officer or senior student, or off-campus with a local alum? Individual, or in a group? Evaluative, or informational? You’ll want to prepare differently depending on what kind of interview you have. For example, if your interviewer is a senior or alum, you can ask about his/her experiences at the college, establish a connection based on mutual interests, and learn more about campus life.

Regardless of the kind of interview you have, you should come prepared with a fair amount of information specific to the school. Start with the basics. How large is the student body? Does the college have a liberal arts, or specialized focus? Does it have flexible distribution requirements, or a strict core curriculum? What might you major in, and which campus activities appeal to you? Knowing the answers to these and other questions will help you evaluate how your interests and activities match the opportunities specific to the college. It will also prepare you to speak competently about what resources you would take advantage of, and what unique qualities and talents you can contribute to campus. Your goal is to distinguish yourself from other applicants  – be prepared to present yourself as a good fit for the college.

During the Interview: Be Yourself…

but be your best self! Colleges go to the trouble of interviewing their applicants because they want to get to know the kind of people they’ll be admitting. And so in order to give your interviewer a good sense of your personality and background, you should be honest, relaxed and enthusiastically involved in the conversation – you should be yourself. Do not, however, be the version of yourself who shows up late, in a baseball cap, answers a cell phone mid-interview, and responds to questions in mono-syllables. Instead, arrive on time, dress neatly, be respectful, and maintain eye contact (as a start). Most importantly, engage in the conversation and ask interesting questions that reflect your personal goals and interests. Be your best self. And have fun presenting yourself and getting to know more about the college.

Need additional advice? Collegiate Gateway can help.