If you applied early action or early decision you might be ready to take a break from all things college for a few months until you receive your letters from the college admissions office. However, some schools require or recommend that you have an interview. A college interview is frequently conducted by a graduate of the school. In this blog post, I will provide some tips on how you can prepare for your interview. Because of the COVID pandemic in 2020 most if not all interviews will be held virtually.
- Check your email for interview requests. Also, remember to check your spam box. Sometimes emails are sent there in error. You don’t want to miss scheduling an interview because you didn’t reply to an email in a timely fashion.
- After you schedule your interview, do your homework. Think of the questions that the interviewer will ask and your answers to them.
- Why are you interested in <name of school>?
- What are your educational and career goals?
- Practice before the interview.
- Sign up for a free account with a video conferencing client such as Zoom or Google Meet. Schedule an appointment with a friend or family member. A lot of people have been using these tools to stay in touch while the country faces this pandemic but you may not have been very concerned with your appearance while chatting with friends or family members. This is different. You want to put your best foot forward so take the time to practice. Look at how you appear. Is your lighting alright? Is the background free of clutter? If you wear makeup make certain that you know how it looks on the screen and know that it is the look that you wish to convey to the interviewer. This is time well spent.
- If your interview will be held virtually, please test out your connectivity. Verify that you can use the video conferencing client, be it Zoom, Jitsi, WebEx, or Google Meet. Please do not wait until the last minute to find out that you can use a certain tool.
- On the day of the interview, log in about 15 – 30 minutes in advance. This provides time for you to iron out any technology glitches that may occur. I find it useful to reboot my computer before I have a video conference. If I have a meeting scheduled for 2:00 pm I usually reboot my computer at 1:30 pm, log on, bring up the conferencing client for the interview, and verify that the settings are accurate. This gives me time to relax and not feel rushed.
- Be honest and be yourself during the interview. You may wish to give the interviewer a copy of your resume in advance or something that they can remember you by. When my first child had college interviews, she carried a list of books read during high school. The interviewer glanced over it and discovered that they shared a love of science fiction. Instead of talking about school, they spent a good half hour discussing a popular writer and then the interviewer used that to talk about some reading clubs or circles on campus. You never know what a book list can do. It made both the interviewer and the interviewee comfortable and it made her memorable when it was time for the interviewer to write up the report.
- Bring questions. At the end of the interview, you may be given the opportunity to ask questions. If you have a question, ask it. However, verify that it makes sense to ask. Questions such as will I be accepted are not appropriate.
- Always have the best of manners. When the interviewer is over, thank the person for their time. You can follow up with a brief thank you note.
Take a deep breath and relax.