Although the formal college interview has, for the most part, gone the way of the rotary phone, being a strong interviewer is a valuable life skill.
Interviews are considered one of the most pivotal pieces of the scholarship application. When interviewing scholarship applicants, colleges are looking to see how well you will represent them and measuring your potential for success.
For starters, you should conduct a mock interview with a parent or friend. While no interviewer would ever want an overly rehearsed response, you need to be cognizant of what you choose to say and sometimes what you choose not to say.
• Answers shouldn’t be “yes” or “no” or go on endlessly. Admissions officers say responses should be between 30 seconds and 1.5 minutes, depending on the relevance of what you say and the complexity of the question.
• Beware of body language, both yours and your interviewer’s.
• Converse casually and find commonalities. If you see vacation pictures on the desk, for exampleyou could ask about the location.
Here are some of the questions you can anticipate:
“Tell me a little about yourself” – Sounds easy enough, but the kicker here is deciding what is worthy of sharing and how it reflects on who you are in the college’s eyes. Think about what you want the college to take away after the interview is over.
Avoid platitudes such as “loving to do community service because it feels good to make a difference.” Instead try talking about a hobby, interesting tidbits about your relationships with your parents or siblings or an academic or extracurricular activity that you’re passionate about.
“Why are you interested in our college?” – This is the question that demonstrates how much you’ve researched the school and are able to articulate why it is a good fit for you academically, socially and perhaps, spiritually, theatrically, culturally, etc. Don’t talk about their fabulous football program or their reputation for amazing Greek life. Focus first on the academics – what majors interest you most, even naming a professor or a course.
“Do you have any questions for me?” – Come prepared with questions that can’t be answered on the college website. Ask: “What’s happening on campus? If the interviewer is an alum, it’s fine to ask him or her about a favorite part of college experience.
Don’t ask: “What are my chances of getting in or receiving a scholarship?”