Many people struggle with the college interview, and understandably so. While some students grimace at the thought of writing the college admissions essay, others dread the interview.
An interview can feel like an artificial set up, and essentially, is an audition. You don’t know what to expect–for people who like things to be within their control, the college admissions interview may be daunting. And it’s not like high-school students aren’t stressed enough.
During, Covid, particularly, students have likely faced more challenges that add to stress levels. In fact, recent research shows that roughly 80% of Gen Z teenagers face greater school-associated stress due to the pandemic.
Luckily, there are several ways you can calm your nerves and in turn, better prep for this big day. First things first, take a second and try to remember that one bad interview isn’t the end of the world. There will be more interviews. In actuality, a bad interview is helpful, because you’ll come away with concrete ways to improve in the future.
If you only ever have good experiences with interviews, you’d maybe never tap into your potential to learn and improve. Along with recognizing that one interview is not the biggest event in the world, remind yourself that almost anyone who applies to college, or jobs, or schools, has experienced an imperfect interview.
At the end of the day, an interview is just a conversation. And if you make it the only thing you’re eating, breathing, speaking, you’ll probably just stress yourself out too much and you likely won’t have that perfect interview you’re crafting in your mind.
1. Mention information Not on your Resume
While you should mention your academic background, achievements, and work experience, you’ll have plenty of time to do this. Your interviewer will ask you questions that warrant these discussions. So you don’t have to stay on the resume track–in fact, your interviewer will enjoy hearing about something that is not already on the resume (which is likely in front of them).
For instance, you might note that outside of school, you’re dedicated to creating sustainable clothing, or that in your free time you volunteer with animal welfare charities.
2. Do Research
The person interviewing you will love to note that you took the time and effort to do some research on the school. Plus, hopefully you’re doing research for these schools when you’re applying, anyway, since that’s really the only way to get all the information you need.
When you’re answering questions regarding the school, demonstrate what you’ve learned in your research by tying together information about the school with details about you as a student.
3. Don’t Memorize a Script
Your interviewer wants to have a good, informative interview—despite what people may tell you, they (in most cases) aren’t trying to intimidate you. If you go into it with your nerves through the roof, ready to recite a script, you may just end up making your interviewer feel on edge.
While it’s great to come into the interview prepared, that doesn’t mean you need to go full-on audition mode. If you let the conversation flow naturally, both you and your interviewer will feel more comfortable. And in turn, you’ll probably have a better discussion, and thus will make a better impression.
4. Prepare Answers to Common Questions
You should be pretty confident that your interviewer will bring up some common questions. And luckily for you, lots of helpful college-prep websites can guide you in the right direction. To get you started, below are some common questions to expect:
- Why are you interested in this school?
- Describe a time where you were in a leader position?
- How can you contribute to this school?
Simply having some answers ready will make the process a bit easier, since you’ll go into the interview feeling at least a little more prepared.
5. Ask Questions
A great way to feel more comfortable when coming into an interview is by having some questions up your sleeve. Asking your own questions allows you to feel more in control of the conversation—plus, your interviewer will be excited to note that you’re interested and curious, and not just going through the motions.
6. Seek Help
One final key way you can destress about your college interview is to seek help. You can reach out to your teachers, mentors, or parents and see if they’d be willing to help you prepare. Their methods may include doing mock interviews, helping you research the school, or preparing questions with you.
While the college-admissions process can feel like the biggest thing ever, it’ll be over before you know it. Remember that, even though you might feel like this interview isn’t a privilege, you are blessed to be able to go through this whirlwind process. Embrace the mistakes you make, learn from your experiences, and don’t sweat the little things too much.
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