by Elizabeth LaScala, PhD
It’s easy to impress a college interviewer – if you are willing to do a little work in three areas: know yourself, know the school, and tap into the wisdom of the person in front of you.
Know Yourself. Before your interview, take a few minutes to look at your resume and review your transcript. Now write down five characteristics you show that would be beneficial for the interviewer to know. Your job is to make sure you weave this informa- tion into the conversation. Be sure to show not tell by developing a few vignettes about you and your experiences that show you have one or more of these five qualities.
Practice makes perfect, so practice interviewing with an adult you think can be objective or your college advisor. Be sure to include concrete examples wherever possible. At the end of the practice interview, ask that person to share what they learned about you. Did it match your list?
Know the School. Read the write-up in Fiske Guide to Colleges 2023 or The Best 388 Colleges: 2023 Edition by The Princeton Review. These are subjective reviews but valuable ones. Next, head to the college website. Look for classes, programs and opportunities that might interest you. Check out specific courses and professors, social events and clubs, research, and internship availability. Look at the college newspaper to understand the current hot button issues on campus. Write down three reasons why that college and you would make a good match. This information will come in handy when the interviewer asks why you are applying to the college.
Know Your Interviewer: The final part to a good interview is knowing how to respond when asked, “Do you have any questions?” Think about these beforehand and be prepared with five, well-thought-out questions. Stay away from information you easily can find on your own. Instead, engage the interviewer in a personal assessment of the college. If an admission officer, begin by asking, “Did you attend (name of college)?” If the answer is yes, follow up with, “Looking back, how would you describe the impact of your education after graduation?” Whatever question you choose, you should lead the interviewer to discuss the positives they experienced while attending the college and the value they see today. If the person is not an alum, then say, “But I imagine in your position you have a chance to speak to a lot of current and past students. What do they say is the impact of their education?” Modify this question so that it feels comfort- able to you, then move on to others.
As long as you come prepared, good interview- ers will know how to bring out the best in you and leave you with a sense of enthusiasm for the process and for the school. You always hear Be yourself and have fun! But also, Be prepared!