Interview at a college differs a lot to a traditional job interview. The principal differences are: First, people who interview you at school are not professionals interviewers (they are mostly teachers and educational administrators working at the school). Second, the interview is usually much shorter— it takes thirty minutes or less, sometimes they will talk to you for ten minutes only. And third, people in the admission committee will inquire mostly about your personality, and attitude to studies, future, and to life.
You won’t deal with any technical, or difficult behavioral questions in this interview, questions you’ll have to handle later in your life, once you’ll interview for your first real job. Bearing in mind the differences, we came up with a couple of tips that should help you specifically in your college interview. Let’s have a look at them!
Choose the right strategy for your college interview
Personal preferences play a huge role in college interviews. Why do they play such an important role? The answer is simple: People sitting in the interviewing panel have neither skills nor time to scientifically analyze your interview answers.
If they like you as a person, if your non-verbal communication is good, if they see the value you can bring to the school as a student, and if they enjoy your company–they will accept your application. At least most of the time this is the case.
To improve your chances of meeting their approval, try to do the following:
- Smile most of the time, think positively about your interviewers, and also about your chances to succeed and get accepted for the study program. Your mind is powerful. Do not underestimate this power–utilize it for your own good.
- Keep an eye contact with the members of the interviewing panel. Looking in the eyes is a sign of honesty.
- Show honest interest for the people in the room, for their job, and for their institution. When you get a chance, you should ask them some questions. Questions about the study program, about the after-school activities, about the achievements and goals of their educational institution, or even about their professional career.
Show them the value you can bring to their college
At the end of the day, interviewers care also for their business. If they are to choose you, and not someone else, they want to know how their school will benefit from having you onboard.
Show them the value you can bring with your skills, abilities, and motivation to do something for them.
Perhaps you can participate in the football team, or organize some events for other students, or apply for a job of a resident assistant. The goal is to demonstrate that you want to be useful, that you want to take, but also give.
Try to convince them that you want to give something back to the community of students and teachers, while enjoying your time at the college. The more specific your answer, the more they will trust you. Of course, you do not necessarily have to stick to your promises. Two weeks later, nobody will remember what exactly you’ve said in your college interview. But on the big day you should try your best to succeed.
* Check also: Ten most common college interview questions
Honesty will take you a long way
Do not try to tell them that you will spend all your time studying books and learning. They know that the reality of student life is much different.
Showing your weaknesses and speaking about your free time activities (and it doesn’t really matter what kind of activities you mention) will make you look more human in their eyes.
At the end of the day, people sitting in the admission committee are just people, like you and me. They also have their hobbies, dreams, their strengths and weaknesses. And they like to know you as a person–not only as a student. The more honest and authentic you sound in an interview, the better your chances to succeed will be…
Final thoughts, next steps
College interviews are not easy, but once you understand what matters in them, once you manage to demonstrate the value you will bring to the college community, and make a good connection with the people sitting in the interviewing panel, they will accept your application (at least most of the time they will accept it).
Needless to say, competition also play some role. You should not rely on a single application, or single interview only, unless you have a stellar GPA, or some other competitive advantage. Send more applications, get a few interviews, and try your best in each one. If you follow our tips, and prepare for the questions you may face, there’s no way you won’t end up without at least one acceptance letter… I hope you will manage to succeed, and wish you best of luck!
May also interest you:
- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication? And interesting insight in the world of interviewing, and the world of our subconscious mind.
- Guide on how to overcome interview nerves – 4 strategies that will help you get your anxiety under control and deliver your very best on the big day. Check them out especially if you have a tendency to struggle with nerves in the interviews.
- College interview questions – 10 typical questions they ask in the college interviews, with a hint on how to answer each question. A must read for every responsible student who wants to do well in their interview.