COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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Conquering the Admissions Interview
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/conquering-the-admissions-interview-875

Posted: 2015-12-03

by Lulu Curiel

An admissions interview has two sides to it. On one side, it provides an opportunity for Admissions Committee to observe first hand a candidate’s personality, leadership traits and drive for pursuing a degree in their institution. On the other hand, it gives the applicant a chance to tell his or her story beyond the essay and application.

The best strategy for any interview is to be yourself and well prepared. Consider the following tips to help you master your interview.

Develop your Story

The key to any successful interview is to come prepared. Ahead of time, think through your journey up until this point and be ready to answer anything that the admissions council might get hung up on. For example, if you failed a class or took a year off during high school, you want to have direct answers that provide a brief explanation, all awhile conveying your story in the right light.

Lastly, some schools (like Harvard) might ask you, ahead of time, to specify the topics you would like to discuss. Choose the topics carefully. These should be areas that you feel highly passionate about but did not have enough space in the application to address. This is your chance to bring the one last thing that you didn’t get to tell.

RELATED: 5 tips to crafting the perfect essay

Practice Interviews

It is easy to tell if someone is genuine in his or her answers, or if they are just telling you everything you want to hear. Work with someone on mock interviews and practice answering common questions. Practice interviews will help you become comfortable in your answers without struggling to find the right wording.

Typically the interview will last around 30 – 45 minutes. Although longer or shorter interviews are common, you’ll want to plan accordingly. Engage the interviewer, be enthusiastic and provide clear concise answers to create the right tone.

Know "why [name of school]"?

Admissions interviews filter for "fit". Therefore, you must be ready to answer, bluntly and directly, "Why this school?" Schools want to make sure that you have done your homework to understand their learning environment and culture. Most importantly, top institutions want to know that you are not simply going for the brand.

Your answer should be specific to you and to the school. If the interviewer were conversing with another candidate, your answer should not be applicable to that other candidate.

RELATED: Six steps to landing in the Ivy Leagues

Stay on topic

Similar to the word count in your essays, you want to keep your verbal responses relatively short. Try to avoid rambling or venting about a specific topic. Use your answers as a platform to open windows of conversation. Think of each answer you give as an opportunity to guide the conversation.

Ask Questions

The in-person interview is not only your chance to answer questions, but this is a time for you to learn more about the program (beyond the resources that are available to you.) Take this opportunity to discuss special interests or ask questions that are related to your professional goals and future experience.

RELATED: Get your child into a top school

An admissions interview has two sides to it. On one side, it provides an opportunity for Admissions Committee to observe first hand a candidate’s personality, leadership traits and drive for pursuing a degree in their institution. On the other hand, it gives the applicant a chance to tell his or her story beyond the essay and application.

The best strategy for any interview is to be yourself and well prepared. Consider the following tips to help you master your interview.

Develop your Story

The key to any successful interview is to come prepared. Ahead of time, think through your journey up until this point and be ready to answer anything that the admissions council might get hung up on. For example, if you failed a class or took a year off during high school, you want to have direct answers that provide a brief explanation, all awhile conveying your story in the right light.

Lastly, some schools (like Harvard) might ask you, ahead of time, to specify the topics you would like to discuss. Choose the topics carefully. These should be areas that you feel highly passionate about but did not have enough space in the application to address. This is your chance to bring the one last thing that you didn’t get to tell.

RELATED: 5 tips to crafting the perfect essay

Practice Interviews

It is easy to tell if someone is genuine in his or her answers, or if they are just telling you everything you want to hear. Work with someone on mock interviews and practice answering common questions. Practice interviews will help you become comfortable in your answers without struggling to find the right wording.

Typically the interview will last around 30 – 45 minutes. Although longer or shorter interviews are common, you’ll want to plan accordingly. Engage the interviewer, be enthusiastic and provide clear concise answers to create the right tone.

Know "why [name of school]"?

Admissions interviews filter for "fit". Therefore, you must be ready to answer, bluntly and directly, "Why this school?" Schools want to make sure that you have done your homework to understand their learning environment and culture. Most importantly, top institutions want to know that you are not simply going for the brand.

Your answer should be specific to you and to the school. If the interviewer were conversing with another candidate, your answer should not be applicable to that other candidate.

RELATED: Six steps to landing in the Ivy Leagues

Stay on topic

Similar to the word count in your essays, you want to keep your verbal responses relatively short. Try to avoid rambling or venting about a specific topic. Use your answers as a platform to open windows of conversation. Think of each answer you give as an opportunity to guide the conversation.

Ask Questions

The in-person interview is not only your chance to answer questions, but this is a time for you to learn more about the program (beyond the resources that are available to you.) Take this opportunity to discuss special interests or ask questions that are related to your professional goals and future experience.

RELATED: Get your child into a top school

 

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