Few things worry students more than the college interview. But understanding, and preparing, for a college interview can alleviate much of that stress. So what do you need to know about the college interview process to do your best?
First, you need to understand that there are two types of college interviews, the evaluative and the informative. An evaluative interview is one in which the college will give some consideration to the interview in the admissions process. But before you start to panic, most college interviews are NOT evaluative and those that are generally account for very little weight in the admissions process. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s State of College Admissions 2008, only 10.8% of colleges view the interview as having considerable importance.
Informative interviews are those that are provided by the college solely to provide information about the college to prospective students. They are no influence on the admissions process at all. So before getting too worried about the interview determine whether it is evaluative or informative. Most colleges will tell you on their website.
Second, you need to do your homework about the college at which you are interviewing. Review the printed material you have from the college and review their website. The more you know about the college going into the interview, the better the discussion you can have with your interviewer.
The third issue you should keep in mind is that the best interview is really a discussion. You know how uncomfortable it is when only one person is talking in a conversation. So be prepared to answer questions about your self from the interviewer. But also come with some questions of your own to ask. If you are worried about the types of questions you might be asked, here is a list of common questions asked by college interviewers. And here is a list of questions that you might ask about a college. Remember, that these are just some questions to get you going. Developing your own list of questions is even better. In asking questions, however, don’t ask questions that can be easily answered by looking at the college’s website. Asking obvious questions like how many students go here or do you have a major in whatever interests you, makes it appear that you haven’t done your homework.
Finally, dress appropriately. Generally that means nice pants and shirt for the men and the same or maybe a skirt or dress for the women. Think khakis and a polo. For some schools jean may be appropriate but not for all so keep it safe, ie conservative, with what you wear. The nature of the school can also influence what may be appropriate dress for an interview. It might be appropriate to wear a suit to a socially conservative school while at a liberal college a suit might look like you were trying too hard.
The bottom line is to know the school as much as possible and be yourself during the interview.