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Speak Up! Presenting Yourself Effectively at a College Interview

Katie Creel

One of the more unique and effective admissions tools that many colleges use is the interview. A college interview is beneficial to both the student and the school involved because it allows both parties to better understand one another.

For the college, they get to know you as an individual, not just a number in the computer. They also can find out if you have any special accomplishments that may not stand out in the application. An interview can really enhance your chances with a college.

But it’s not all one-sided. While the admissions committee is evaluating you, the interview is a great time for you to evaluate the college.

To Interview or Not to Interview

As the applicant population continues to increase, the emphasis on college interviews has decreased. Because of this, you will need to find out what the policy for interviewing is at each institution. Policies include:

  • There are no interviews. The college/university recommends visiting the campus and attending a group information session.
  • They offer interviews conducted by alumni representative near your home or school.
  • Interviews are offered but are optional, and are not part of the application process.
  • Interviews are encouraged and do become part of the student’s application.

In most cases, you are better off using the interview opportunity if it is available to you.

Preparation Makes Perfect

It is very important to prepare yourself for any question you may be asked. Even if you are told that the interview is optional, always keep in mind that you are still making an impression to someone related to admissions office. Make sure you dress appropriately, have a copy of your transcript and résumé available (if you are asked), and have questions prepared for the interviewer. If you’re having trouble preparing, take a look at some sample questions.

Ready, Set…RELAX

Once you begin the interview, remember to be yourself. If you feel pressured to “sell yourself” or run the interview, it could come off as offensive to the interviewer. Follow their lead and be honest and as open as possible. It would be helpful to have a pen and paper so that you can take notes about what is discussed as well as if other questions come up that you will want to ask.

Last But Not Least

  • Be sure to get a business card from every person you had contact with, not just the interviewer themselves (an assistant, another counselor whom you spoke with, a tour guide, etc.).
  • After the interview, write a thank you note to every person who took part in your interview (the business cards come in handy for this.) Make sure that you write the note yourself or type a letter if your handwriting is not legible.
  • If you are writing more than one note, make sure you say something different in each note so as to personalize it.
  • Congratulations!

You have just completed a successful college interview. By having a great interview, you have made a favorable impression on the professionals who will be reading your application and supporting your admission to the school.

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