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Prepare for your college interview

By BY MARYANNE HOGAN/The College Auntie - | Dec 11, 2020

Not all colleges require an interview as part of their admissions package, but many do, and even more offer it as “recommended” or “voluntary.” In this time of the COVID Pandemic, an interview will be an important tool for colleges to use in lieu of standardized tests and activities where participation is not possible. So, if your college offers the opportunity to have a virtual interview, make sure to prepare and put your best foot forward.

Here are a few common interview questions:

What kind of school are you looking for? This is pretty general and can be answered in a variety of ways. Size, academic competitiveness, social, athletic… think about what is most important to you.

Are you looking for a small Liberal Arts School or a large Research University?

What are your academic interests or potential areas of study? This is not asking what you want to major in. Many students have no idea what their major will be, but think about things you do like to study and would like to pursue in college even if it is not your major. If you do know your major, then of course discuss that.

Does your academic history accurately reflect the type of student you are? Either you have always had strong grades and this is an easy “yes” answer, or this is your opportunity to discuss why you got that C in Algebra, or how you feel that you have grown into your study habits over the years. Interviewers are going to notice your worst grades and ask about them, so be prepared to answer.

What are the benefits of attending this school? Try to be specific. If you are looking for a top engineering program, and the school in question has one, then say so.

Other than your GPA, what do your transcripts say about you? Do they say that you pushed yourself and took harder courses like AP and Honors classes? Have you diversified your coursework to explore many subjects, or have you focused one area of expertise?

What will be the most important factor for you to consider when making your decision about where to attend college? Be honest. There is no right or wrong answer to this. Academic program, financial aid package, proximity to home are all factors to take into consideration when making that final decision. How does this school fit into those considerations?

Finally, make sure that YOU ask THEM questions!

This is your time to find out things that may not be obvious or answered on the school website. You may potentially spend four years of your life at this school, so take the opportunity to ask what you need to know to be sure this is the right school for you. If you are being interviewed by an Alum, ask them about their own experience at the college and if it met their expectations.

Try to relax and be yourself. Pay attention to the questions and try to engage in a conversation rather than just a back and forth of questions and answers.

Try to maintain eye contact, which is probably easier when having the interview via computer than in person. Make sure to thank your interviewer at the end.

Interviews are a great tool for schools to use, but remember that they are just part of the overall holistic review that any school will use to make their final decision, AND they are only part of YOUR investigation into where you will finally choose to attend college.

Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website, thecollegeauntie.com, for more information or to make an appointment.