10 Tips to Ace College Interviews

10 Tips to Ace College Interviews | The Red Pen

You might be getting ready for your interview with admissions officers, other university representatives or alumni in preparations for your studies abroad. While the purpose of the interview is to help a university better understand where you may fit into the campus environment, it is also a wonderful opportunity for you to ask questions, convey your sincerity, personality and other things that can’t always be put down on paper.

Here are some useful college interview tips and reminders:

1) Mind your manners and appearance:

Dress appropriately and arrive/dial in on time. Remember the interviewer’s name and say thank you at the end of the interview. DO NOT text, WhatsApp or take calls during the interview. Maintain eye contact and do not fidget. If your interview is virtual, ensure that you have a backup internet connection and that no one will walk into the room during your session.

2) Know all the details on your application, resume and essays inside out:

Knowing yourself, your passions and your interests puts you in a better position to provide interesting responses to questions.

3) Make note of potential questions:

If you were reading your application, what questions would you have for yourself? Those are probably the questions you will get during the interview.

4) Research the college/programme:

Ensure that you research each programme you would like to attend as this can help you clearly articulate why this college/programme is THE choice for you.

5) Read, read and read some more:

It’s important that you are aware of what is going on in the world around you. Read the newspaper or watch the news, especially in the week leading up to the interview to get up-to-speed on current events and world developments.

6) Admission committee vs alumni interviews:

For MBA applicants, if the interview is with an admissions officer, there is more of an emphasis on academic fit with the programme and recruiting objectives. With an alumnus, it tends to be more about fit from a personality or outlook perspective. The alumnus is trying to figure out whether they would want to be up at 3 am with you to finish a project or be proud to call you a fellow alumnus 10 years from now.

7) Be succinct:

Applicants are expected to be able to provide succinct answers. For MBA applicants, business schools are looking for candidates who can make convincing arguments or statements without rambling.

8) Prepare examples to demonstrate a skill set:

Have an example or story (real, not concocted scenarios) ready for each of the following categories: leadership, teamwork, tough decision, plans that failed, taking initiative, being challenged, working yourself out of a seemingly impossible situation and anything else that is unique in your profile.

9) Be professional:

Don’t be overly formal and don’t take yourself too seriously. Be engaging and have a positive attitude.

10) Be confident:

Display that you are confident in yourself without being arrogant or showing an attitude. Do not think that you know everything and be humble.

As one of our colleagues who regularly interviews said, “the best interviews are the ones that move away from a stiff Q&A session into an engaging conversation.”

At The Red Pen, we offer interview prep services for summer/high school and boarding school as well as undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA programmes. To know more about how to prepare for your interviews, get in touch with us.

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