For many students, an admissions interview is the most nerve-wracking part of the college application process. But if you can stay calm, you’ll find it a great opportunity to interview them, too.
Step 1: Research the school Learn what you can about the school before your interview. The interviewer will have looked over your application and information, so it’s basic common courtesy that you do the same. If you don’t know anything about the school, the interviewer will no doubt assume you don’t care about getting in.
Step 2: Anticipate the questions Anticipate the interviewer’s questions. He’ll want to learn what kind of person you are, what you enjoy, and how you might contribute to the school. Consider your strengths, and give the impression that you will reflect well on the school.
TIP: While it’s good to have a general idea of how to answer likely questions, don’t prepare so much that your responses sound canned.
Step 3: Dress appropriately Obviously, you’ll want to dress neatly and on the conservative side. If in doubt about any part of your outfit, remember that you want the interviewer to focus on what you’re saying, not what you’re wearing.
Step 4: Be polite You should apply the same principles to your college interview that you would to meeting anyone you want to make a good impression on: shake hands firmly, look the interviewer in the eye, smile, and appear interested and engaged in the school and the interview, not distracted or bored.
Step 5: Explain yourself Use this opportunity to explain anything that might not speak for itself in your application. If your grades or test scores aren’t as high as they could be, acknowledge this and let the interviewer know why—maybe you took difficult classes instead of getting an easy A.
TIP: Don’t brag about your test scores or GPA at the interview—the interviewer already has this information. You’ll make a better impression if you emphasize non-academic assets.
Step 6: Ask smart questions Make sure to ask at least one good question before the interview ends. It should be something that shows you’re mature and proactive about your education, like 'I hope to go to med school—what advice would you give a pre-med student here?'
TIP: Don’t put your interviewer on the defensive or ask arrogant questions, like, 'I want to go to a top med school—why should I choose your pre-med program?'
Step 7: Be a good closer When the interview comes to a close, end it with a firm handshake, gratitude for the interviewer’s time, and a warm smile. Follow up with a prompt thank-you note.
FACT: Only 10% of American universities claim that the interview is of 'considerable importance' in making admissions decisions.