If you’re a student who has been invited to a college interview, it’s a good sign that you are under consideration for acceptance.
Keep in mind that the goal of the admissions process is to help a school determine whether or not a student is the right fit for their college. More than trying to find the “smartest people,” admissions offices are trying to curate a class: to select a group of people that they feel will pursue academic excellence AND embrace the culture or values of their school.
So our advice is that students take the opportunity to interview seriously and prepare assiduously, always keeping in mind that they need to communicate who they truly are. It’s not just about trying to get in. By giving an admissions office an authentic picture of who they are, students are allowing the admissions officers to best do their job.
Wait…you can prepare for an interview? Yes! Even that in and of itself is a wonderful lesson that can come out of this process.
Here are our best tips on how to approach college interviews.
- Learn as much as possible about the school using print and online sources. At a minimum, students should familiarize themselves with any promotional materials they’ve received as well as scan the school’s website.
- Research campus life such as clubs and majors. Students who know what clubs or majors interest them will be able to paint the interviewer a picture of their future on campus.
- Review the school’s application to find details to bring up in conversation. This can be a great way to steer the conversation toward the school’s mission and values.
- Develop insightful questions to ask the interviewer. Try to calibrate these questions to the person doing the interview. An admissions officer and an alum will have very different experiences and knowledge to share.
You’ll also want to consider your appearance at the interview. In general, your appearance should be professional and not distracting. You either want the interviewer to not pay much attention to their appearance, or to think “They look nice,” before moving on.
Here are a few general guidelines to consider for attire:
- Choose attire that is polished and professional. Your interview outfit should not be what they plan to wear as a student on campus, but rather something that says they are taking this interview and this school seriously.
- With that said, your outfit should also make you feel confident and comfortable. For some students this will be a nice pair of pants and dress shirt or blouse. For others it may be a full suit or dress.
- When in doubt, choose more conservative options. This principle applies to hemlines, necklines, prints, clothing fit, and footwear choices.
- In general, avoid jeans, shorts, casual pants, flip-flops, sneakers, or hats.
- If at all possible, wear clothing that has been worn before. Even if you buy something new for the interview, break it in once or twice so it feels comfortable and isn’t a distraction to them.
- Clothing should be clean and unwrinkled.
- Smartphones are NOT part of the outfit. During the interview process, keep your phone on silent or turned off, and out of sight.
The most important thing is to exude confidence, professionalism, and authenticity. By preparing ahead of time and making smart choices about how to present yourself, you can make it easy for an admissions officer to see you as a positive addition to their campus!