Have a college interview coming up? Feeling a little anxious? Don’t really know what to expect? Well, have no fear! College interviews can sound intimidating at first, but once you have a basic understanding of how they work, they’ll be just like normal conversations you feel comfortable with.
Before the Interview
Now I don’t suggest that you plan out everything you want to say and do beforehand, but definitely don’t walk into the interview completely blind. There are a few important steps you should take in order to prep for your interview so that you won’t have a moment where you’re completely struggling or feeling uncomfortable.
As silly as this sounds, don’t forget about what you’re going to wear. While it depends on who your interviewer is, it’s important to look presentable in any case since you want your interviewer to know that you’re taking the interview seriously. After all, first impressions matter. It may not represent the quality of your overall interview, but let’s be honest–who’s really going to take you seriously if you look like you’re going to the beach?
That being said, don’t forget to feel comfortable with what you’re wearing. You may look nice, but you definitely won’t feel ready for the interview if you’re in something that suffocates you.
It’s also important to take notice about where your interview is. There’s no need to go all out if your interview is at Starbucks.
And lastly, don’t forget about your shoes. This is coming from someone who accidentally wore tennis shoes with a dress shirt and khakis. Oops.
Depending on your interviewer, you should always expect at least one or two questions from them. Whether it be “Why did you apply/do you want to attend [college name here]?” or “What’s your favorite color?” you should always be at least somewhat acquainted with your interests. Something I find helpful is to at least be able to answer the “Why do you want to attend?” question, because most times than not that question always seems to arise. After all, you are applying to that college, so interviewers hope that you know why you did. Therefore, it’s always nice to be acquainted with some of the programs the school offers so that you’re not giving extremely broad answers.
For those who are socially awkward, shy, and/or introverted like me, I definitely recommend practicing with someone. Practicing before an interview doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have prepared your responses, but instead it means that you’ll be feeling a lot more comfortable with the interview rather than being extremely nervous.
Location and Time
Know where your interview is. Know how to get there. Know when to get there. Be there on time. ‘Nough said here.
During the Interview
This is it. The day is here. I repeat, the day is here! If you’re still feeling nervous, don’t worry. Most interviewers understand that the interview can make applicants nervous, so don’t feel obligated to walk in completely confident. Pro tip: Arrive at the interview slightly early so that you have time to unravel and feel more at ease.
Interview Dining Etiquette
If you happen to have an interview at a food restaurant, don’t feel obligated to buy the interviewer something. In fact, it’s usually the other way around. If it makes you feel better to have something in your stomach before your interview, definitely get something to eat or drink! If not, that’s totally fine too! There’s no pressure even if your interviewer gets something and you don’t want anything.
This is an important one. Even if you’ve had a bad day, try not to look like you’re about to lash out at someone. Interviews can get uncomfortable really quickly if so. Always do your best to represent yourself professionally while not looking too stiff. It’s also nice to keep eye contact most of the time so that the interviewer knows that you’re directly engaged in the conversation. But remember that this is an interview, not an interrogation.
Don’t get too nervous if you’re unsure about how to answer a certain question. There’s really no right answer to it, so everything is up to your interpretation. If you find yourself stuck on a question, give yourself some time to think rather than answering immediately. There’s no point in trying to make yourself sound good if you don’t really know what to say. That being said, just don’t make the interviewer wait for too long. Think about the question for a few seconds, and give it the best you’ve got.
After the Interview
YOU DID IT! You’ve completed your college interview! Whether you thought it went well or not, what’s done is done. There’s no point in worrying, so go out and relax. You deserve it.
Don’t forget to thank your interviewer! Interviewers aren’t usually obligated to conduct interviews with applicants, so definitely take the time to thank them. Most people send thank-you notes via email, but you can definitely hand them a thank-you note after the interview. My only caution is that if you write the thank-you note beforehand, you’re writing thank you to someone that hasn’t even interviewed you yet, so it might be difficult to write a personable letter to someone you haven’t met yet. NEVER ask the interviewer for their address. It could possibly make the interviewer feel uncomfortable and is a breach of their personal privacy. That being said, you can never go wrong with a thank-you email after the interview.
Once you receive your admissions decision, let your interviewer know. They will most likely not know your admissions decision, so it opens the opportunity for you to ask them additional questions if you are admitted (or even decide to attend).
The interview is over. Smile. Be happy. Hang out with your friends. Eat at your favorite restaurant. Watch a movie. Go out and enjoy life. You’ve earned it.