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Top College Interview Tips
Many colleges encourage you to interview with an admissions representative or alumnus as part of the college application process, either on campus or in your hometown. Admissions officers will consider the interview when evaluating your application (although they'll be much more interested in your grades, test scores, essays). A few schools require interviews or have a specific process for them.
In most cases, the interview will not make or break you, but if you do arrange an interview, take it seriously. It’s a chance to show off the unique personality traits you can bring to campus, and build a personal relationship with the admissions gatekeepers. Our college interview tips will help you get prepped for the big day.
Prepare specific questions.
Your interviewer will expect you to ask some questions about the school and talk about why you want to go there. Put some energy into coming up with creative questions with answers that cannot be easily found on the college's website
Practice like a prizefighter.
Being interviewed is a skill, and it requires practice. Sit down with one of your parents, a teacher, a college counselor, or a friend and have him or her ask you their best college interview questions. Answer them honestly and seriously. Then ask your "interviewer" how you came across. You'll also get better after each college interview, so try to arrange your schedule so that your last interviews are with the schools you care about most.
Remember, the key to getting admitted (and being happy at college) is matchmaking. You want to be yourself so that the person interviewing you can discern if you would be a good fit. Before your interview, think about why the school appeals to you, what you want to study, and what you might do after graduation.
…but be your best self.
You have many sides, so showcase the side of yourself that is professional, mature and poised. Don't show up looking like you just peeled yourself off the couch—wear what makes you feel comfortable and and confident. Smile, and remember your interviewer wants the interview to go well too!
Stop worrying about the clock.
Most interviews run approximately 30 minutes to an hour. Students are sometimes told that the sign of a good interview is a long one. But on-campus interviews are usually scheduled back-to-back, and off-campus interviews are usually performed by alumni who are working professionals—so your interviewer is likely on a tight schedule. If you notice them checking the time, it's not (necessarily) because they think you're boring.
Send a thank-you note. If there's something about the interview that was helpful to you, let your interviewer know. If you connected with your interviewer over a book, common experience, or band you’re both into, then mention it!
Otherwise, simply express your continued interest in the school and thank your interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. (Read our advice on contacting colleges before you hit send).
Check out our video on how to ace the college interview:
ABOUT ROB FRANEK
Rob Franek, Senior Vice President and Publisher, is The Princeton Review's chief expert on education. Over his 22-year career, he has visited hundreds of colleges and appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX to share advice about admissions, testing, and financial aid. Read more and follow Rob on Twitter: @RobFranek .
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