A college interview is a short face-to-face meeting, usually between a college admissions officer and a high school student applying for admission. It is one of several ways for a college to assess an applicant along with grade transcripts and standardized scores and essays. Interviews can take place on the college campus, at the high school (if the college sends representatives), and elsewhere such as at a local coffee shop if there is an interview between a student and an alumnus. In addition, several colleges have been experimenting with online interviews. If offered by a college, interviews are sometimes described as optional, but one report suggested that not doing an interview when one was offered could hinder chances for admission. Further, doing an interview signals an interest in attending.
Likely interview questions include:
- Can you tell me a little about yourself?
- Why are you interested in our college?
- What are you interested in studying?
- How will you contribute to our campus community?
- What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?
Counselors and teachers and professional consultants offer differing guidelines about interviews. Most suggest that an interviewee should "dress to impress", avoid wearing provocative or inappropriate clothes, although a report in 2009 suggested that hiring a fashion consultant and shopping for expensive clothes before an interview was unnecessary and could backfire. There is strong consensus that rehearsing for interviews is important. Former Andover theater instructor and professional interview coach Mark Efinger believes that preparation is vital for a successful interview. Sometimes assistants help students prepare for the interview. Private secondary schools such as St. Paul's in New Hampshire have a two-week "boot camp" in the summer before senior year to help students prepare which includes simulated practice interviews. Efinger advises students to write up their major achievements, organize them into themes, and have a three to five minute theme-oriented "success story" ready (but not memorized) before an interview, and suggests that interviewees should try to steer the conversation to show how their skills and experience meet criteria valued by the interviewer. For example, if trying to demonstrate an aptitude for "planning and organization", he or she might show how they plan their schedule using their mobile scheduling app.
Advisers agree that a usual open-ended question to begin the interview will be along the lines of "tell me about yourself", and that a student should be ready with a response. Several emphasize the importance of being able to back up adjectives such as "hardworking" and "motivated" with a brief and memorable anecdote to explain further what is meant. Efinger describes such anecdotes as "arrows" designed to "hit the bull’s-eye" to make a point which sticks in the interviewer's mind; in addition, interview preparation can include a private soul-searching exercise called a "failure resume" to get students to think about their past mistakes in order to help them outline what they learned from their experience. It helps for students to understand what they want and to show how a particular college can help them achieve their long range goals. While interviews can be stressful, one report suggested that the main purpose of the interview was to "show that you are a good person" who is "polite and interesting" with a "sense of humor". Another report suggested the most important thing, when an applicant has strong grades and test scores and activities, is simply not "blowing the interview", although this varies by college.
- Interview overview article
- Howard and Matthew Greene (October 22, 2003). "PBS: 'Ten Steps to College' (transcript)". Washington Post. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Note: college interviews usually last 20 minutes to a half hour
- Barbara Rodriguez of the Associated Press (January 2, 2009). "More Colleges Expected to Offer Online Interviews". Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
... Avery Cullinan put on her best outfit but didn't bother with shoes. She sat in her living room, smiled into her computer's webcam and told an admissions officer more than 800 miles away that Wake Forest University was right for her...
- Steve Cohen (September 23, 2011). "Top 10 myths of college admissions". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Valerie Strauss (2011-10-03). "A new college admissions bible". Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
- Erica Cirino of Varsity Tutors (November 7, 2015). "5 college interview questions you should know how to answer". USA Today. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...1. CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?...
- Haylee Barber (July 11, 2014). "10 ways to nail your college interview". USA Today. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...1. Dress to impress ... 2. Be prepared ...3. Ask specific questions that cannot be answered from the school’s website ... ... ... 4. Be ready to “tell me a little about yourself”... etc ...
- Jessica Pressler and Chris Rovzar (October 14, 2008). "Gossip Girl Gains the Freshman Fifteen". New York Magazine. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
...Even Serena knows better than to wear a skanky-ass top like that to a college interview. ...
- Meghan Daum (September 20, 2006). "Fashion weak - what a laugh". New York Newsday. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
- JACQUES STEINBERG (June 12, 2009). "Free Fashion Advice for College Interviews, From a $15,000 Consultant". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...showcasing “looks” ... for on-campus interviews.... jeans were “a no-no,” and that appearing “neat” and “not sloppy,” while still showing a flash of “your own style,” was key. ... She also advised against “exposing too much,” whether of one’s ankles, toes or cleavage.
- Staff writer (June 24, 2010). "Don't be afraid to take risks during college interviews". Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...The point of the interview is to show that you are a good person and that you are polite and interesting and have a sense of humor...
- Maureen Callahan (May 9, 2006). "HEAD OF THE CRASS – $50K FOR 200 POINTS: HOW RICH N.Y. KIDS ACE THE SAT; PAYING TO BREAK THE SAT CURVE". New York Post. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
...His assistant would prepare me for each college interview,” says the new Harvard undergrad....
- Jon Meoli (August 15, 2012). "St. Paul's 'boot camp' gives seniors a leg up on college applications". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
... the class to run through some simulated interviews ... present themselves in a college interview...
- Buffalo News (February 3, 2015). "Countdown to College: How to impress in the college interview". Buffalo Suntimes. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
... tiptoe that fine line between bragging about their accomplishments and sharing significant information....It’s a safe bet that you’ll be asked a very general question such as, “Tell me about yourself.” ...[permanent dead link]
- Sanjay Salomon (January 30, 2015). "Can a Failure Resume Help You Succeed?". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...A “failure resume” is ... a private exercise ... outline what they learned from the experience ...“
- VICTORIA NAVARRO (December 17, 2015). "Tips on how to excel in a college interview". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
... people should be cautious of is trying too hard....the best you can do is understand what you want and how that college can help you achieve your goals. ...
- Katherine Kendig (October 11, 2013). "Tips for taking the awkward out of college interviews". USA Today. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...Decide ahead of time what you're going to call your interviewer (formal is probably better to start), and plan some small talk..
- "Don't fumble on an otherwise strong college admission run". Chicago Tribune. February 5, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
...The biggest risk of not getting into Harvard is blowing your interview. ... Yale is big on interviews...