Many colleges and universities require prospective students to attend an interview during the application process. This can be a great opportunity to make a positive impression and improve your chances of admission. Last year, we shared a career readiness blog with tips for job interviews. The guidelines are still the same, but with some important tweaks you should consider making for academic environments. So today, we're going to do something a little different! Here are each of those helpful tips as a reminder, with Tutor Doctor's recommendations for college-specific interviews.
1) Dress to impress. Your appearance is the very first impression people will see when you walk in for an interview. We would recommend wearing something semi-formal – a nice blouse or button-down shirt, clean slacks, and dress shoes. You don't have to go overboard, but make sure you don't show up wearing a t-shirt and jeans! It's like the old saying goes - “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
The same rule applies here. Whether your interview is in-person or via webcam, you want to make a solid first impression on your interviewer. Make sure you are well-groomed and energized (that means getting a good night's sleep, too).
2) Get there early. Without a doubt, this is the second most important factor to acing an interview. At any job, you will be required to show up for work on time for your scheduled shifts. We recommend getting there at least half an hour early. You may need time for parking, or filling out additional forms prior to the interview process. Simply being punctual shows a lot about your desire to get the job – as well as character and responsibility.
With a college interview, punctuality is just as important. Gaining admission is a competitive process, and scheduling an interview must often be done months in advance. If you miss your interview, you might not get another shot. With college interviews, you may even want to give yourself more than 30 minutes before arrival. Campuses can be huge, and you may need to look around to find out where to go. In addition, most colleges and universities require a parking pass, so you may also need to arrive early to obtain a temporary one. The bottom line is this – leave yourself plenty of time for anything that might come up (weather, traffic, etc.)!
3) Bring at least 3 copies of your résumé. Why do we recommend 3 copies? The interviewer will typically look over your resume and begin to ask questions about your work experience. You want to be able to follow along with them – don't be looking over and trying to read their copy upside down! We recommend bringing a third copy simply for safety – sometimes interviews are conducted with two interviewers, or the employer wants an additional copy to keep on file. Having multiple résumés already printed shows motivation and professionalism.
In college interviews, your résumé may be your high school transcripts, or copies of standardized test scores. Whatever the interviewer requires, the same principle applies – have extra copies and make sure you're prepared well in advance.
4) Prepare for the interview beforehand. Try to do a bit of research about the position before you find yourself sitting in the interview chair! This goes for any job, but especially for more specific positions.
With college interviews, you can expect certain “standard” questions that you are likely to be asked. We recommend having thorough answers in mind before the interview so you don't have to come up with anything on the spot. Here's a few common questions you may hear:
- Why do you want to attend this college or university? (This is especially important. You should have genuine reasons why the school interests you – certain programs that appeal to you, for example.)
- Can you describe a situation in school where you had to overcome an academic challenge or obstacle? How did you approach it?
- What are your personal hobbies and interests?
- Have you done any community service or volunteer work? What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
- What did you enjoy about high school? What didn't you like?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years? What are your aspirations?
- What is something unique about yourself?
5) Smile and make eye contact. Confidence is key during interviews! Stay positive, and try not to speak too fast – you don't want to seem nervous, but rather comfortable (and also excited for the position).
This tip remains pretty much unchanged – you want to appear enthusiastic towards the opportunity of attending this school. Ultimately, you want to show the interviewer that you would be a positive addition to their college and campus environment. So show some school spirit, and good luck!