Depending on what schools you’re applying to, you may be invited to an interview during the application process. Here are some key tips that will help you navigate it successfully!
1. Do your reseach.
Research is crucial to being prepared, and there are numerous parts to it. Research the school as a whole – core curriculum or how study abroad works. Then research your potential major at the school – what classes for your major would you be excited to take or a professor you’re interested in learning from. These kinds of questions can help you make notes on why this specific university is a great fit for you. After you’ve researched the college, research your interviewer if you can. With Google, it’s easier than ever to prepare and find out that your interviewer likes volleyball, Charles Dickens, and Polish rock music from the 1980s. Sharing enthusiasm over shared interests can create an instant bond. In no way should you fake an interest in something, but you might just find that you both have something in common.
2. Plan your outfit.
Dress up for your interviews. Choose your outfit a few days in advance, and examine it carefully. Make sure every part fits well and comfortably. Keep jewelry minimal. Check for stains, tears, or loose threads.
3. Practice answering potential questions with everyone you know.
Print off lists of potential interview questions and have friends, family, and advisors practice with you so that your answers are perfect by the time you arrive at the interview. There is a big difference between reviewing and practicing. Please don’t just review the questions and think about the answers in your head. You need to practice in front of someone – with a partner. If the interviewer asks what you did last summer, you want to be able to explain clearly and concisely. All of your answers should add value. By practicing, you’re less likely to get flustered, forget key points, or expound too much, ending up off-track. Practicing with a variety of people also means you’ll have different opinions and advice to help you improve.
4. Write down any and all questions you have for the interviewer.
At some point in the interview, the school representative will ask if you have any questions. The worst thing you can say is “no.” No makes it look as though you aren’t really interested in the school. Instead, write down some questions in advance – specific questions that show your interest and enthusiasm, and make sure that you don’t ask anything that’s already been covered in the interview. Ask about a college tradition you’ve heard about but never experienced.
5. Arrive early.
If you’re on time, you’re late. Arrive at the location of your interview 10-15 minutes early. This shows that you respect the interviewer’s time, as well as allows you the chance to get a drink, go through your notes again, or take a moment to meditate if you’re suffering from nerves. Regardless, you don’t want to look like you rushed to get there on time, and fifteen minutes provides a nice buffer.
Bonus Tip: Send a thank-you note.
After the interview is over, send a thank-you note. This allows you to cement the impression of you in your interviewer’s head, especially if you mention a certain segment of the interview where you bonded – if you two have the same major, similar interests, or had a great discussion about the theater department. The thank-you note is another show of respect and appreciation, and as an oft-forgotten art, can make you stand out as an excellent applicant!