The season of interviews is upon us and, though many schools do not afford you the opportunity to state your case in person, those that do require or even recommend (another word for require) interviews are dying to get a better idea about the applicants they evaluate.
You notice that I used the word "opportunity" when describing the interview. Many of you are probably thinking of this as some sort of medieval torture device designed by college admission officers as a sort of shock-and-awe technique. I can assure you that, no matter your level of anxiety with regard to gaining admission to the school of your dreams, theirs is just as high when it comes to choosing the best possible class for their institution. Their job is to be sure that those that will populate their campus will form an intellectual and social matrix . . . blah, blah, blah . . . you get the idea.
What I am trying to say is that you are as important to them as they are to you. Yes, this may be the school of your dreams, but it is nothing without amazing students like you. It may be the most selective school in the country, but that just means they are having a harder time finding the right people. Your job in this process is to make it even harder for them. The following tips are meant to give you confidence in what can be a terribly overwhelming process.
1. Be yourself
I resist the temptation to make this the only tip, because it is the most important. It might sound like common sense, but most students feel that in trying to impress the admission officer they should make themselves sound like what they think the school wants them to be. In so doing you lose depth and reality in your responses and cheat yourself out of a valid assessment. Believe me, the interviewers can tell when the depth of responses is lacking.
2. Know yourself
In order to be yourself, you must spend a little time thinking about who you are and what you care about. Take some time thinking about things you like to do and your value and belief systems. You should write down your thoughts and take note of the ones that resonate most with you. Choose up to two of the most important activities and design a firm statement regarding your value system. All interview questions will revolve in some way around these basic attributes.
3. Educate yourself
Always remember that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Know the school beforehand and develop a few questions regarding your areas of interest and how they relate to the school. These questions show interest in the school and passion for pursuing your interests, both key components to success in the admissions process.
4. Present yourself
Take yourself with all of your strengths, values, and knowledge about the school, dress in comfortable but respectable clothing, and make your appointment. Be confident without being cocky and strong without being overbearing.
And most important, reread number one!