Interview for College

The college interview is an important part of the process, but by no means the most vital. Chances are, unless something truly dramatic happens, the interview probably won't make or break your chances. But it is your opportunity to give a good impression and to show your personality in a way that doesn't appear on paper. If you can accomplish that, you should consider your interview a success.

Interview questions are designed to get you talking. They are usually broad questions that can spark a conversation and allow you to open up about yourself in a more comfortable way. There are no right or wrong answers. The most important thing is that you show you are an intelligent and thoughtful person who can articulate your ideas.

The main goal for the interviewer is to try and get a better understanding of who you are, why you are applying for college, and what you want to do with your education. He or she may ask you why you want to go to college, or why you want to go to this college specifically. This is a very open-ended question and you can answer it any number of ways. What's important is to show that you've thought about it, given the topic some consideration, and done some research about this school. If you express a strong interest in astrophysics, the interviewer may be disappointed to tell you that they have no astrophysics department.

You may be asked about your high school experience, college goals or career plans. You may be asked about role models in your life, historical figures you admire, or your own strengths and weaknesses. It may even be as simple as, “What did you do this summer?”

It is important to always be honest and open, but keep in mind what the interviewer is looking for. Your answers, whatever they may be, should be centered on how your experiences have helped you grow as a person, learn new things, and come to understand yourself and the world around you. You don't have to have amazing accomplishments to achieve this. In fact, if your resume feels a little weak on paper, this is your opportunity to fill in the blanks. It is your chance to explain how delivering pizzas all summer or taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon helped shape you into the person you are today.

Some of the most basic tips for interviews go back to common sense and are easy to take for granted. Be on time and dress well. If you're late, it not only reflects poorly on you, but it is most likely a major inconvenience for the interviewer. Similarly, your personal appearance and dress project a lot about you. Remember, giving a good impression is one of your only goals in this interview. You should also be courteous and respectful. Shake hands, make appropriate eye contact, and perhaps most importantly . . . talk. They are looking to get to know you and the motivations behind your choices in life. If you've thought about some of these topics beforehand, you should have no problem opening up about yourself a little.

Finally, the interview is your chance to articulate a vision of your future. This includes what you can contribute to the college, what you hope get in return, and what you plan to do in life after graduation. The interviewer is not only looking to see that you're a qualified student, but that you're a good fit for the school.

Do this school's academic programs fit with your career ambitions? What drives those ambitions? What do you want to do in life besides get a good job and make money? For some, these are easy answers. For others, it requires a little more reflection. But if you're prepared, the college interview can be an easy, maybe even fun, experience. You should feel relaxed, confident and ready to talk about the why and the how just as much as the what, where, and when.

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