Getting into the college of your dreams is a ton of work. Not only do you need to crush all four years of high school, ace your college entrance exams, and apply for college scholarships, you may also need to demonstrate that you’re 100 percent interested in the school by scheduling a college interview.
Like most types of interviews, college interviews can be somewhat nerve-wracking. The best way to ease those pre-interview jitters? Lots and lots of preparation. If you need a few pointers, Tallo has you covered. Here’s how to prepare for a college interview and breeze easily through the process.
1. Schedule Your Interviews Strategically
If you’re applying to multiple schools (which most students do), consider saving your top choice for last. After all, practice makes perfect, right? The more you interview, the better you’ll get at it. When it comes time to interview for your top school, you’ll be more relaxed and have a better idea of what to expect.
2. Research the School in Advance
The interviewer — who is likely an alumnus — is trying to get a sense of why you may or may not be a good fit for the school. Expect them to ask questions like, “What made you interested in our school?” and “What can you contribute to our program?” Researching the school in advance is key to acing these questions. Be sure to check out their website and learn a little about the school’s history, its mission, goals, and maybe some recent news. Then, think about how you could potentially add value to the school.
3. Be Prepared for a Skype Interview
Having a college interview over Skype was fairly standard, even before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, it’s more likely that your college interview will be conducted over video chat. To prepare for a Skype interview, make sure that you have good lighting, decent video quality, and clear audio. Schedule a practice call with a family member or a friend to test it out prior to your interview.
Additionally, make sure that you’re having the interview in a place with NO distractions — not even your adorable pup. One last tip for the road: Place a few sticky notes on your laptop to help you remember your key talking points or questions you want to ask your interviewer.
4. Get to the Point
One of the more common college interview prompts is “Tell me about yourself.” It’s a softball question designed to help you ease into their questioning. Avoid telling them your name, the high school you currently attend, and all that jazz — they know that stuff already. Get straight to the important deets, like where you grew up and what you do for fun. Try to connect your answers to your interest in the school whenever possible. For example: I grew up in a super small town and I’d love to experience city living in college.
5. Brush Up on Current Events
One of the sneakier questions that your interviewer might ask is how you feel about a certain topic in the news. They could ask about immigration, the coronavirus pandemic, the environment — you never know.
Avoid using the question as an opportunity to get overly political. They’re not trying to suss out your political leanings. They want to know if you’re an informed and critical thinker. Answer the question honestly, but don’t call out political figures or use strong language to get your point across.
6. Don’t Disguise Your Weaknesses as Strengths
One of the more common college interview questions is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” When answering the question, avoid painting your weaknesses as a strength.
For example, don’t say that you “often stay up too late studying,” or some bogus answer like that. Your college interviewer isn’t going to be impressed. Instead, be honest about your weaknesses and talk about the steps you’re taking to improve them.
7. Ask Questions
“Should I ask questions in a college interview?” We hear this question a lot. The answer: yes, yes, and YES! Your interviewer actually expects you to have at least a few questions about the school and what it’s like to go there. Just don’t ask things like “What’s the difference between a grant and a scholarship?” and things that you can ask Google (or us ?). Take advantage of your interviewer’s alumni status and get the juicy details you can only find out from someone who’s been there and done that.
Remember: It’s OK to Be Nervous
We would tell you not to be nervous for a college interview, but let’s face it — that’s just silly. College interviews are nerve-wracking! While it’s definitely not a make or break situation, you still want to make a good first impression. Get to your interview early, give yourself time to relax, and just be yourself. You’re gonna crush it!