High School How-To: The College Interview Process

High school seniors all over are going through the same struggle right now. That’s right, college applications and interviews! As the deadlines start rolling in, many colleges start offering interviews which mainly take place between January and March. Here are the key aspects of what to expect:

First Contact

You get an email greeting you. Your interviewer has been assigned to you and introduces his or herself. They then ask for a place to meet, and may already have a suggestion. In my experience, all the interviewers had day jobs (one even worked at Goldman Sachs) and are really busy. They’re accommodating you because they’re alumni to the school you want to apply for. That’s why you should schedule a time that you definitely won’t be late for. Make sure you can get to the place on time. Sometimes it’s the college itself, sometimes it’s at Starbucks. Wherever it is, be polite and be quick to respond.

Preparation

Now that you know who your interviewer is, it’s time to do some research. Besides knowing as much as you can about the school, find out more about the person who is interviewing you. Can you find out what they’re doing now, what they majored in, or what year they graduated? It gives you a sense of what their experiences were like, and you can ask more informed questions during the interview.

Remember to dress appropriately for the interview. No chipped nail polish, graphic T­-shirts, or skin-baring outfits. It is pretty common to see seniors wearing collared shirts because they had an interview that day after class.

If it’s a webcam interview, which is an option for many colleges, make sure to be dressed appropriately and have decent lighting. Try to be in a room that wouldn’t be too noisy or that has too many distractions in the background.

The Day Of

Even though you’re really nervous, it’s alright. At this point, you should have practiced answering potential questions and have written your own for the interviewer. You are prepared! That’s why you can look your interviewer in the eye in a friendly, relaxed manner and that is why you have a solid and comfortable handshake.

The interviews themselves have a similar pattern. “Tell me about yourself. Tell me why you want to attend this college. Tell me what you know about this college. What makes this college the one, and not another college?” Try to come up with answers beforehand.

Then they turn the tables over to you. “Do you have any questions?” This is where your research comes in. Ask about a club you might be interested in, or about living options and the main benefits your interviewer got out of attending that college.

Follow Up

Yes. You have to do one more thing. The Thank You note. Remember, this person took time out out of a busy schedule to talk to you. The least you can do is show your respect. Try to reference things you talked about in the interview so they can remember you out of all the other students they’ve interviewed. It shows you’re interested, and you’ll stand out.

Applying for colleges is rough, and doing interviews for them can be scary. It’s alright, everyone feels that way. With enough practice and information, you can become comfortable with the process. Good luck!

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