The college applications are in, transcripts are sent and now it’s time to wait. Or, you could go the extra mile and do an interview with an admissions counselor or alumnus!
College interviews are a chance for admissions officers to get to know you on a more personal level; after all, they can only learn so much from your GPA! In order to shine during your interview, avoid these eight common college interview mistakes.
1. Don’t memorize your responses
If you’re nervous, it can be tempting to try to prepare your answers before an important interview. And while it’s always good to prepare, you want to make sure your responses don’t sound memorized and robotic. You may think of the interview as an intimidating Q&A in which an admissions counselor is peppering you with scary questions, but it’s meant to be more of a conversation.
“I never approach an interview with a laundry list of questions, but [I] try to tailor each discussion to be just that, a conversation that focuses on the student,” says Emily Anding, the assistant director of admission at Colorado College. Instead of memorizing answers to questions you think the interviewer will ask, do some light preparation and be ready to have a discussion about yourself and your goals.
Do a little research and some brainstorming for what might come up in the interview. Take a look at the college’s website and refresh your memory on the school and why you’re interested in it. Come prepared with some topics or questions you have, but there’s no need to prepare your answers in full!
2. Don’t underdress
We know this isn’t a job interview, but dressing nicely is just as important in a professional college interview! Just because this interview may not seem as “real” as a job interview doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be dressing up for it. Switch out those jeans and sneakers for a pencil skirt and flats.
Make sure you’re dressing appropriately. If your favorite blouse shows a little skin, you may want to skip it and go with a more conservative sweater. You want to impress the interviewer with your knowledge and achievements, so don’t distract them with your casual or inappropriate clothing choices!
As pre-collegiettes, it’s understandable that your closet may not be fully equipped with professional work wear, but have no fear! It’s most important to look clean, crisp and appropriate – even if that means skipping a blazer and pumps. Pair some dress pants with a nice, ironed blouse or a pencil skirt with a fancier cardigan. As long as you make the effort to look appropriate and professional, you’ll fit right in!
3. Don’t bring your parents in
Again, interviews can be a pretty intimidating experience, but we promise that sitting down with an admissions counselor isn’t scary enough to warrant bringing your parents in. College is the time to be completely independent, and dragging your mom into the room with you shows that you’re anything but ready for the freedom that comes with a college experience.
“Leave your parents in the waiting room, and make sure your parents know they will not be joining you in the interview,” says Mike Perron, dean of admissions at Becker College. “There will be plenty of time for the counselor to meet with the family after the interview, but the interview is a time for the prospective student and counselor to meet privately.”
4. Don't leave your cell on
We’re all using technology these days, but there’s a time and place for everything. Teenagers are notorious for being glued to their devices, so don’t give yourself a bad rap by leaving your cell on during the interview.
Switch your cell off and stick it in your bag for the interview so that it doesn’t interrupt you. Or, even better, hand it off to your parents.