Though not all colleges require it, an interview is an excellent way to reinforce your application and showcase your personality. While your application provides a place for you to tell the college who you are, this can be the place for you to show them who you are. Here are some tips for putting your best foot forward during interviews:
1) A firm handshake goes a long way. First impressions make all the difference and a smile, eye contact and firm handshake is the best way to start. Whether you’re a shy student or the most confident student in the world, a firm handshake shows you are in control of the situation. Practice your handshake with a friend or family member before you go!
2) Ask questions. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and everyone loves to talk about their college experience; this strikes me as especially true of those invested enough in their college to sign up for alumni interviews. So ASK QUESTIONS. Usually interviewers will ask at the end “do you have any questions for me?” You should always ask some iteration of the question “tell me about your college experience” and have at least one additional question in your pocket!
3) Turn your interview into a conversation. If you can turn your interview into a conversation then your interview was a success. If you’re naturally outgoing this might be easy for you, but if you’re not there are lots of things you can do to help the conversation flow. One great way to do this is to end a question with a question. For example, you could end your answer to the question to “what extracurricular activities do you see yourself participating in?” with “what activities did you participate in while you were in college?” This will automatically make things more conversational. But if you are the type of person that dominates the conversation, try to restrict yourself to under a minute per answer so your interviewer has time to respond to your thoughts.
4) Guide the interview towards your passions. Ultimately, when you talk about things that you are truly passionate about you will naturally put your best foot forward. Don’t answer the question with what you think is the “best answer”, answer with a response that shines a light on your passion; this will open up a discussion of that highlights who you are.
5) Always tell the truth. Interviewers often ask students what their favorite novel is; it is easy to immediately know who is lying. It’s ok if your favorite book isn’t War and Peace. Your interviewer will learn a lot more about you from a book that you really do love, than one you think he or she wants you to love.
6) Don’t forget to breathe. You may get a curveball question that you were not expecting. That’s ok. It’s fine to pause for a moment to process your thoughts before speaking. A thoughtful answer with a pause is better than a quick thoughtless answer.
7) Read the news the week before. Showing that you are engaged in the world around you is always positive. Reading the news, whether from the newspaper or the internet, is a great way to show that you are an informed student.
8) Send a thank you note. If you have a mailing address for your interviewer, get a handwritten note in the post box by the next morning. If you do not, make sure send an email within 12 hours. Practicing the above tips will give you the best chance of impressing your interviewer and getting accepted to your dream school.