The Lowdown on College Interviews
In the college application process, college interviews can be an important component. While grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and essays are the backbone of your application, some schools also provide interview opportunities. These interviews are your chance to highlight the things you can’t convey on paper, like your unique and endearing traits, as well as your enthusiastic and genuine interest in the school. The college interview process can also help you form a relationship with an alumnus or representative of the school, who can give their endorsement. You can explain in further detail things you outlined on your application, and emphasize anything that you think sets you apart from other applicants. Basically, it's another chance to sell yourself!
Just like submitting applications and requesting letters of recommendation, it is the applicant’s responsibility to set up the interview. Some schools require college interviews, some encourage interviews, and some don’t even do interviews. When you apply to a school, it’s critical to look up their specific application process. When I went through the process, I made a checklist with due dates for everything I needed to do: the application, the letters of recommendation, the interview, etc. Remember: this is your future, so be accountable for all of your responsibilities! You can click HERE to see a list of colleges that require interviews, but always check the website of your specific school to make sure you are getting the most accurate, up-to-date information.
There are a few different reasons for college interviews. As you can probably guess, one of the main purposes is for the interviewer to evaluate the interviewee. This is their chance to see who you are in real life, off paper, and to get to know you through conversation. Though they can’t determine if you’ll be accepted or not, they can let the school know a little bit more about you.
Other places offer informational interviews, which is your chance to ask more questions about the school. In a way, it’s almost the opposite of an evaluative interview, because you get to ask the questions. You get to hear more about what it’s like to attend their university, and it’s purely for your benefit. You aren’t in the hot seat in an informational interview.
It is incredibly important that you look up interview information as soon as you know which schools you’ll be applying to. Some schools are already almost full for this application season! (Rice is one of these...) Many of the more selective schools require interviews to be done before their applications are even due, so don’t assume that you can wait until you’ve officially applied. Look up the information for every school on your list so that you aren’t blindsided later. Seriously, as soon as you are done reading this blog post, go look up interview information for your colleges of choice!
Interviews are typically conducted by alumni in your area, so you can usually plan to meet somewhere local, like your high school or a coffee shop. If there isn’t anyone available locally to interview you, you can usually request a Skype interview or a phone interview. If, for some odd reason, you cannot get an interviewer OR an alternate interview format, you will not be penalized. If you’ve fully attempted to get an interview and the university just wasn’t able to accommodate you for whatever reason, it will not be held against you. Just try your best to sign up early so that you get your best shot at an interview!
Whether the interview is required, highly recommended, recommended, or optional, you need to put your best foot forward. It’s great if you’re a social butterfly who excels in conversation, but college interviews require a special kind of practice. Luckily, you can get personalized preparation at The Enrichery. You’ll want to go into your interview with specific questions for your interviewee brainstormed and some go-to answers prepared. Even if you’re confident in your ability to “wing it,” you absolutely want to prepare fully for your college interview! If you’ve prepared a stellar application and poured your heart into your essay, consider a successful interview the cherry on top.