Handling a College Interview

Interviewing on campus or with an alumnus in your area gives you the opportunity to gather more information than you would from the Web site or brochure and to share more stories about yourself than you can offer in your application or essay. Aside from dressing professionally and arriving on time, consider the following tips to make your interview an informative and memorable part of your college application process.

Speak with your body language. A firm handshake and eye contact goes a long way in making an impression. Enter the interview with confidence, extending your right hand for a solid introduction. Be sure to maintain eye contact throughout the discussion, giving your interviewer a glimpse of you as a well-spoken, secure candidate.

Visualize a successful interview beforehand. See yourself entering the interview, shaking hands, introducing yourself, making eye contact, and maintaining calm as you answer the interviewer's questions. Take a deep breath before the interview begins and remember the smooth sailing you visualized in your mind's eye.

Be friendly and courteous to your interviewer. The job of the alumnus or admissions officer is to get to know about you, but before focusing the interview on yourself, as appropriate, take some time to chat with the person on the other side of the desk or table. You might thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet or inquire about the work that he or she does.

Take your time. When answering the questions put before you, think carefully about your response. Pause to consider the questions so that you can make each response count.

Share interesting stories. Rather than simply describing yourself as a leader or a motivated student, tell your interviewer stories that demonstrate such skills as determination and resilience. Illustrate your leadership abilities. Discuss your background and how these experiences have changed, formed or influenced you. As you share these stories, explain what these different life experiences have taught you about yourself, others and the world around you.

Monitor your responses. Watch for your interviewer's reactions. Keep the initial question in mind. Ask clarifying questions if you are unsure if your response is on target.

Ask questions. Before arriving at the interview, think about what you want to know about the school. Make a list of questions and review them ahead of time so that you can take the opportunity to gather more information and demonstrate your inquisitive nature.