The Scoop on Interviews: Distinguishing Yourself from the Crowd

by Liz Deakin

Why Prepare For Interviews?  It’s been widely reported that we’re in the midst of the most competitive year ever for college admissions.  While grades, test scores, and impressive applications remain the mainstay of admissions committees’ criteria, any minor edge can make the difference between landing in the “no thanks” pile and the coveted “acceptance” pile. So given that you’ve invested so much time studying, taking tests, writing essays, researching schools and touring campuses, why not seal the deal with a fabulous interview?

Most colleges offer interviews to prospective students. Some offer “campus” and “alumni” interviews, while some offer only one and not the other. A campus interview is where you go to the college’s admissions office to have an interview with someone on the staff. Alumni interviews are conducted by graduates of that particular college and take place at the alum’s office or at a local public place, like a Starbucks.

Some colleges use the interview for both evaluative and informative purposes, while others use the interview for informative purposes only.  An evaluative interview is where the interviewer is actually evaluating you—and typically includes some kind of paper trail on the interviewer’s part—and an informative interview is simply for you to gain information and knowledge about the school. Interviews are an important part of the application and admissions process because it enables both parties—not just the college—to determine how well you fit with that school.

In the absence of an interview, the only time in the admissions process when you have a voice and can exercise a large amount of control over the situation is through your essays and personal statements. By interviewing, too, you get to give the admissions committee information that you’d like them to consider, i.e., an opportunity to get to know you and the depth of your experiences better. The interview also presents a chance for you to show how SPECIAL you are and how you stand out from other applicants. An interview can play an important role in the decision-making process—it allows you an opportunity to showcase yourself, offer explanations for anything you feel needs explaining, and to demonstrate your interest in the college. Today, many schools consider “demonstrated interest” as part of your overall application.

Lasting impressions are made within the first few seconds of the interview. Interviewers often take note of everything from how you greet and shake hands to how you express and conduct yourself during the interview. With a modicum of preparation and practice, you will be more confident and will maximize your chances of making a powerful and lasting impression. The rest of the interview will also be more successful if you have thought about and practiced answering questions about your high school years, activities, hobbies, etc., before going in for your first interview.

CollegePrepExpress offers coaching sessions with experienced interviewers—including former admissions officers and alumni interviewers from Dartmouth, Brandeis, and Tufts—to help you do your best. These sessions review the purpose of the interview, interview etiquette, a full range of sample questions, and include practice/mock interviews with critical feedback. Our coaching sessions have led to dramatic improvement in style and content. Knowing exactly what kinds of questions to expect allows you to be more prepared, more relaxed, and more yourself. Do not waste this chance….be prepared and do your best. Sign up today, as interview season is already here!

About CollegePrepExpress

The primary purpose of CollegePrepExpress, LLC is to help students get into their top secondary schools, colleges, and graduate schools and to reduce stress surrounding the entire admissions process.

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