Know what purpose the interview serves.
Colleges generally offer two types of interviews: evaluative and informative. An evaluative interview, like those required at many Ivy League and top-tier schools, factors into the admissions process. The interview will become part of your admission file. It won't get you into the school or keep you out, but it is important - and you should prepare for it that way.
An informative interview is just as it sounds: the process allows you and the school to learn more about each other. During an informative interview, you should learn as much as you share.
Do your homework.
You've probably already learned some things about the school in the application process, but now is the time to do a little extra digging. The interview gives you a chance to share your knowledge about the school and gather more information straight from the source. Come to the interview with questions prepared. Not sure what to ask? Check out this article.
While you're gathering information about the school, be sure to check out a campus map. Knowing ahead of time how to find the building where your interview is can prevent a lot of stress and confusion on the big day.
Ask a friend to help or sit down in front of a mirror/video camera and practice. Your goal isn't to memorize a set of answers - your interviewer will be able to sense those right away - it's to get over the jitters and feel more comfortable. If you work with a friend, he or she can also help you identify and eliminate distracting nervous gestures, such as playing with your jewelry or overusing filler words, like 'um.'
Here are a few sample interview questions for your practice session:
- Why do you want to attend this school?
- What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?
- What are some of the things you've done to prepare for college?
- Could you describe your best high school experience? Your biggest challenge?
- What are your future plans?
- What can you tell me about your interests?
- Do you have a favorite book? A favorite author?
- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Although the dress code for a college interview is much more casual than an office interview, what you wear makes an immediate impression. Aim for a 'business casual' style.
Be on time.
Punctuality demonstrates that you're responsible and you respect your interviewer's time. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early just in case you run into unexpected obstacles, like bad traffic. If you're too early to wait in the office, use the time to get to know the campus a little better.