Here are 10 tips for crushing your college interview! Note that this list applies to an official interview done with deans or official school committees and not alumni.
Tip 1 – Turn Off Your Phone
You should never pull out your phone during an interview under any circumstance. An official interview requires you to take it professionally and pulling your phone out to text in ANY type of interview will definitely hinder your chances of success.
Tip 2 – Dress Nicely
Being that this is for an official interview, you must dress the part and dress nicely. If you are a male, a nicely fitted suit will bode well but if you happen to not own a suit then a button up shirt with a pair of slack is just fine. If you are a female, try and wear something nice and professional to the best of your ability. Please note that the attire for an official interview is not the same as for an alumni interview, so no jeans and casual apparel.
Tip 3 – Bring a Resume or a Copy of Your Application
Although the interviewer in an official interview would have already read both your resume and application, it is a general rule of thumb to come prepared with a copy of your file. Bringing a copy of your resume or application demonstrates your willingness and how serious you are taking the interview — which every interviewer wants to see.
Tip 4 – Practice Interview Questions
A key way of preparing for an interview is practicing those general interview questions so that you have a ready response if asked. Usually, these questions look like:
– Tell me about yourself?
– What do you do when you’re not in class?
– What is your top major of choice?
– If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Be prepared and have a decent answer for these types of questions. When practicing, try rehearsing with an adult you feel slightly awkward around such as a neighbor or friend. If you do not have anyone in mind, then your parents and/or siblings work too.
Tip 5 – Research Your Program
Try and search up your specific program on Google and see if anyone has posted or commented actual interview questions. Chances are if the program you are looking into is competitive, then someone has posted interview questions or shared their experience. Any bit of information you can learn prior to your interview can help you prepare even more and help you have a successful interview of your own.
Tip 6 – Have Something to Talk About
In addition to practicing potential interview questions, have something to talk about. Walk in the door having just read or watched something intellectually stimulating that you may bring up in conversation. Do not, however, talk about something political or controversial. You may want to bring up something you heard on a TED Talk or podcast. Maybe even a documentary you just watched or a book you finished reading. The key thing is to sound like an intellectual and know what you’re talking about.
Tip 7 – Know Your Weaknesses and Be Ready to Spin Them
Remember that even though the interview may seem daunting at first that, in reality, you are going to go speak to another human being and interact with them. Interviewers already know who you are on paper— so bringing up your honors and accolades does them no good. This is where you have to be on target, know what your weaknesses are on paper and spin a narrative with an awareness to help the interviewer see you more than just another candidate. You have the power of persuasion behind you and remember that the most powerful thing you can bring to an interview is your story.
Tip 8 – Play Your Strengths
Be sure during your interview to take the opportunity to bring up something on your resume that needs more attention or doesn’t explain itself. Share a meaningful anecdote to further boost your strengths and display passion, or compassion, on the subject. Sometimes just putting something on your resume doesn’t do it justice so playing your strengths is something you should do during your interview.
Tip 9 – Remember: It’s a Conversation
Students often get nervous and tight during interviews and, as a result, their answers sound like rehearsed note cards. Remember to relax and be yourself. Interviewers want to see a real human being with ideas and someone who is passionate and listens to the world around them. You want to be confident, not cocky. You want to get your point across, but not be fancy. The interviewer wants to relate to the person and see the true character beyond the application and resume.
Tip 10 – Say Thank You
Don’t forget to thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you. Whether you write an email or leave a note, say thank you and be polite.