The Interview Process: Application Help
Here you can find tips and advice for the college interview process in a list of the best ways to arrange and prepare for an interview.
Interviews are a very important component of the complete college application process. They give the student a chance to demonstrate his or her verbal skills, values, perceptions about the college, and perceptions of self as a learner and community member.
If a school grants interviews, students should really try and make every effort to arrange an interview at every school they are applying to.
Basic Types of Interview Arrangements
- Interviews held on the specific college campus with an admissions counsellor.
- Interviews held at an informational session by admissions counsellors, but held at local hotels/conventions halls, etc.
- Interviews given by regional alumni representatives from the individual colleges; these are held at a school or an arranged meeting place between the interviewer and student (such as a local coffee shop or library).
Regardless of the type of admissions interview students are having, they need to bring at least the following with them to the interview:
- Their most updated activity/award/employment sheet.
- A school transcript with senior courses and the school profile.
In addition, a student might want to also bring a small sampling of supplementary materials (such as a lab report, an expository paper, a few samples of photography, drawings, etc.).
Arranging the Interview
- To arrange an interview, the student should call the undergraduate admissions office of each school and request an interview—even if the school indicates an interview "really doesn’t matter," if the school grants them, students should arrange one.
- Sometimes, the school will grant an interview after the student has applied to the college.
How to Prepare for the Interview
- The student needs to write out three or four open-ended questions. This is because during the interview, the person will ask the student if they have any questions. Without preparing the questions ahead of time, it is too hard to just come up with them out of the blue. Students should be very familiar with the school’s mission statement and specifically allude to it whenever possible during the interview.
- Open-ended questions are questions the interviewer cannot say just "yes" or "no" to. For example, if you ask, “Do you have an internship programme?” That is not an open-ended question as the interviewer can just say yes or no.
- The questions could be on anything related to the college such as curriculum, activities, sports, study abroad, teachers, internships, etc. However, students should develop questions around several categories/clusters; for example, not all questions about academics or not all about sports. Questioning a variety of areas displays the student’s well-roundedness.
- When presenting the questions to the interviewer, always try to frame them in this way: "I noticed on the college’s website…" "I saw in the catalogue…" "I read in the view book…" "When I visited the college on (date), the tour guide indicated…" "When I attended the informational session on (date), the presenters said…" This demonstrates to the interviewer that you have taken the time to do your homework/research about the college and that you are prepared and taking the interview seriously.
- Bring these written questions to the interview in a notebook. As the interviewer is giving the answers, write them down—again, this shows the interviewer you are serious about the answers.
- When you first go into the interview, hand the person the packet (with your transcript and activity sheet) while shaking the person’s hand.
- It is very difficult to predict what type of questions the interviewer might ask you, because so much of it is dependent on the person’s personality, but typical questions are: "Why do you want to attend this college?" "Why are you a good candidate for this college?" and "What could you bring to the college campus community?"
- You need to be very specific in answering the above questions. Again, this is another reason you need to be sure and research specifics about each college you have interviews for.
- Interview lengths vary greatly—interviews can go from 20 minutes to an hour—but the length of the interview doesn’t indicate a "good" or "not so good" interview. Again, it is dependent on the personality of the interviewer.
- Dress professionally for the interview. No jeans. Boys should wear a tie.
Bringing Professional Closure to the Interview Process
- As soon as possible after the interview, write the person a personal thank you note: "Dear___, Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to help me. I learned a lot about the college. [College] is one of my top choices and I hope you consider me as a candidate… Sincerely ___"
- If the interview has taken place on the college campus, send the note to the interviewer directly at the college’s admission office address.
- If the interview is done outside of the campus (by an alumni), write a note to the interviewer at his/her home or business address (whichever one the person gives you).
- In addition, if it is an alumni interview, also write a hand-written thank you note to the Director of Admissions; you don’t have to put in the person’s name—just Director of Admissions—and write something like: "Dear Director of Admissions, Thank you for arranging to have me interviewed on [Date] by [Interviewer’s Name]. I learned a lot about the school and it was great to speak with someone who graduated from the college and who spoke of it so highly…"
- If the school is definitely your first choice in a college, make that very clear in the thank you note (and throughout the interview).
About the Author
Susan Molor is an HR training director at a CV writing service and a blogger. She's going to create online classes to share her experience with people all around the world. Also, she is a writer for independent media.
About the Creator
I'm an HR training director, thus I've faced plenty of HR and employees issues. I'm going to create online classes to share my experience with people all around the world. Also, I try myself in blogging and writing for independent media.
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