As the next admissions season comes, many colleges and universities have already started their interview processes. While interviews are often portrayed as nerve-wracking, intense interrogations in movies and TV shows, college interviews can be the complete opposite.
For most colleges and universities, interviews are an opportunity to add the human aspect to your paper application (because, I mean, you are human, aren’t you?) and to learn more about your prospective colleges. Although you cannot determine who gives you the interview, here are the three main types of interviews as well as pointers to make sure you come out of them #winning:
1) Admissions Officer / Dean (the “Your School Is Filled with Opportunities and Diversity” Interview)
Some colleges and universities allow their admissions officers and deans to administrate the interview. These are the people who will be deliberating over your application when it comes to decisions period of the admissions process. But have no fear! Although these may seem like the most intimidating people to interview you, admissions officers are also a direct connection to the admissions committee.
- Admissions officers are the most informed on the actual application process so if you have any lingering questions regarding your application (especially if you have not submitted it yet), here is your chance to ask.
- Relax (yeah, I’m hitting you with that piece of obvious knowledge). It can be intimidating, but if you go in prepared with appropriate questions, you will rock the interview.
- Wax poetic about the school (hence our title for this interview). You shouldn’t sound fake (or as vague as our title does), but you should definitely take some time beforehand to think about what you love about this particular college or university, namely about the student body. Remember: the admissions officers are responsible for picking the students now at the college, and if you love the students, it means the admissions office did its job.
2) Alumni (the “You went to _______ College/University in the 90s?! I was born in the 90s!” Interview)
Many applicants will receive an alumni interviewer. They can range from students who graduated from the institution recently or ones who are heading back for their 40th reunion that year. Either way, they were once students who have been through the institution, one way or another.
Having an alumni interview gives you a chance to get an idea of how your particular institution has the potential to change your perspective and future.
- Remember to ask the alumnus/a about their time at the university (bring questions with you!). Alumni love to reminisce about the wicked cray ol’ days in college. Let them.
- For young alumni, ask questions about activities you are interested in participating in, where are they currently, and anything about their experiences.
- For older alumni, ask questions about what their favorite moments at the institution were, how strong the alumni network is, and how much they think the college has changed since they were last on campus.
3) Student (the “Uh…what’s the ‘social scene’ like?” Interview)
Current or rising seniors on campus usually do student interviews during the summer and fall. These interviews can be the most rewarding. You have the opportunity to ask a current student about their feelings, opinions, and general sense of the campus.
- Ask questions about their favorite or least favorite parts during their time at the institution, classes, professors, student activities, and anything that you cannot get from the website or viewbook.
- Do not think of the student interviewer as your “friend”. They are still a professional and should be treated like one. Never ask questions like, “Dude, what are the parties like here?! Are there any ragers?” or “How easy is it to cheat on a test here?”
Bottom Line: Be honest and use it as a chance to not only let the institution get to know you better, but also get to know the institution better!