10 Tips to Ace Your College Interview
REMEMBER TO BREATHE
Anxiety before an interview is common. Remind yourself that you are there because you are intelligent, ambitious, and special. Try to relax by taking a moment before your interview to focus on inhaling and exhaling.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Prior to Onsite, you should spend some time on the websites of the colleges and universities you applied to. Be prepared to talk about unique programs or opportunities the school offers that appeal to you. Be ready to answer common interview questions.
· Why do you want to attend this college/university?
· What do you want to study?
· What’s an example of a challenge you’ve overcome and what did you learn from it?
Practice! Practice! Practice! Keep an eye out for interview labs hosted at Chicago Scholars leading up to Onsite. If you can’t attend, then recruit friends, family members, or teachers to conduct mock interviews. Hearing yourself answer questions out loud is the best way to prepare and build confidence. Be ready with a solid elevator pitch to introduce yourself effectively and concisely at the beginning of your interview.
BE CONFIDENT AND AUTHENTIC
Start the interview with a smile. It sets an upbeat and confident tone for the interview. During the interview, don’t answer questions the way you think you’re supposed to; answer in a way that is true to you. Authenticity can help interviewers relate to you or better understand your life story. Remember, they are there to get to know the real you!
BRING RELEVANT DOCUMENTS
Bring at least one copy of transcripts, updated test scores, and resumes on clean paper for each interviewer. During the interview, make sure that you have a notepad and pen so you can write down details to refer to in your follow-up email.
Dress for success. We recommend that you arrive in business professional attire that is pressed and wrinkle-free. Examples of what you should wear include:
· Blazer or suit jacket
· Button down shirt
· Suit pants
· School uniform
· Military/ROTC Uniform
You want to wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Clothing and confident body language will help you make a great first impression. Greet the interviewer a firm handshake. Sit tall, and keep eye contact throughout the interview. Avoid slang and filler words, “like” and “um”.
Give yourself time to prepare, meditate, and get your bearings before your first interview. Take this time to map out where you need to be and when.
GIVE STRENGTHS-BASED ANSWERS
When discussing your story and life experiences, focus on examples of possibility and opportunity. Define yourself by aspirations rather than problems and challenges. Prepare real-life examples where you’ve used your unique talents and superpowers to succeed.
Be prepared with two to three good questions for each college that you can’t find on Google or through a quick scan on a college’s website. Questions demonstrate your interest in the school and your desire to match with an institution that will fit your unique needs and interests.
At the end of the interview, make sure to get a business card before you leave. Send your follow-up email the same day. Thank them for their time and be sure to include details that were brought up during the interview and/or a good question that you didn’t have time to ask in person to continue the conversation.