Interview Prep

Preparing for a Successful College Interview

Don’t just prepare a bunch of canned answers that you think a college will want to hear.

If you are planning to apply to a highly selective college, it is important for you to understand and be thoroughly prepared if you are asked or allowed to interview. Of the eight Ivy League schools, only Cornell doesn’t require or strongly recommend an interview for general undergraduate applicants. Even if your choice college doesn’t require an interview, requesting one and doing well can help to make the difference in the ultimate admissions decision.

Preparing Valley Students for College Admissions Interviews

The professional education counselors at Going Ivy regularly prepare students for their college admissions interviews. Whether you attend a private school such as Brophy or Xavier or attend a public high school like Chaparral High School, your preparation process should start with recognizing your strengths and understanding how to express what makes you unique. We help students throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area with their college applications and with preparing for all that is involved, including their interviews. It is very important that you understand what to expect and how to prepare for your interview. It is equally important that you know the kinds of mistakes that some students make during college admissions interviews.

How to Prepare for Your Interview

While interviewing may seem frightening, it is important that you understand that developing good interviewing skills will carry you throughout life. The skills that you learn now are ones that may help you to prepare later on for job interviews and help you network in the future. Not preparing is simply not a good idea. It is also not a wise approach to prepare a bunch of canned answers that you think a college will want to hear. What’s more, focusing your answers just on what you know about the school misses an opportunity to tell the interviewer more about you. Instead, your interview will be a time when your interviewer can evaluate you while you will also be able to evaluate the school, allowing both of you to have a better idea about whether or not the school is the right fit for you and your goals.

Scheduling the Interview

Each college has its own method for scheduling an interview. For example, Yale allows a limited number of prospective students to schedule on-campus interviews on a first come, first-serve basis by clicking a link on its website. In addition to the on-campus interviews, which are conducted by Yale seniors, the school also offers the option to interview with a Yale graduate if there is one available in Phoenix. On-campus interviews with admissions officers will be the most helpful, but local alumni interviews are great, too. When interviews are not required, many schools state that applicants are not penalized if they are unable to schedule an interview. However, it is a good idea to try to schedule one even if your school does not require it. An interview can help you put a personal touch on your application packet.

Researching Your School

Even if you think you know everything about the school that will interview you, keep researching. Research can help you understand what questions you want to ask. It is not a good idea to ask questions during your interview that you could have just as easily found on the school’s website. Interviewers will be able to tell if you have researched the school, and they may feel that you are disinterested in attending if it is obvious that you haven’t taken the time to learn more about the school for which you are interviewing. For example, one former interviewer for Princeton recalls a student during a local interview who discussed how much he loved Boston, immediately allowing the interviewer to know that he hadn’t done any research and was thus not that interested in attending the school. (Hint: Princeton is not in Boston.)

The Value of Mock Interviews

Once you have done your research and have scheduled your interview, Going Ivy will help you practice with mock interviews, either in our Phoenix office or another neutral location, similar to what your actual interviewer might do. While there is no way to guess what questions you will be asked, the importance of practice is to make you feel more comfortable when the date arrives. Your Going Ivy counselor will ask you a number of interview questions that are commonly asked of college applicants. He or she may also throw a few curveball questions in just like your interviewer is likely to do. It is important that you treat your mock interviews seriously and that you internalize the suggestions you are given so that you can derive the most value from them.

Mistakes to Avoid

In addition to dressing inappropriately (shorts, jeans, flip-flops, revealing clothes, tennis shoes) and failing to research, you should also avoid doing a couple of other things during your interview. Do not brag too much. There is a fine balance to bringing up your accomplishments and selling yourself while maintaining humility and being likable. Practicing with an expert will pay off. Remember that your interviewer will have already read your application. Your interviewer is wanting to get to know who you are outside of your application. You might opt to discuss your love of math rather than hammering on the fact that you won first place in your state’s math competition four years in a row, for example. Talk about the things that you love on a deeper level, and make certain that you treat the interview like a high-level conversation. Do not give canned responses. Nothing can make an interviewer’s eyes glaze over more than an applicant whose answers are obviously canned.

Call Us for Help

Your college interview can add one extra way for you to make a good impression on the school of your choice through its representative. It should not be taken lightly, and the proper preparation is key. Going Ivy can help you to practice and prepare so that you are more comfortable when your interview arrives. This may help you to be yourself so that you can learn more about the school while its representative also learns more about how you might add value to the school. Call Going Ivy today to schedule a consultation about how we can help you with this exciting part of the application process.

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