College Interview Guide

It’s the big day – you have your college interview.

While any interview can be stressful, we have you covered. Our college interview guide has all of the tips and tricks you will need to get prepped for the big day. Head below to learn about what to expect, how to dress, and how you can prepare to ace your college interviews.

What to Expect

  • The interviewer will likely specify a time and a place beforehand. If your meeting is at a cafe or somewhere where food/drink is available, keep in mind that it’s tough to talk and eat at the same time. If you’re nervous, just order a water to keep your mouth from getting dry.
  • Interviews typically last between 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Be prepared to answer some questions, but also expect casual conversation as the interviewer tries to get to know you.

Dress for Success

  • Check the school’s website for tips on dress. Generally, business casual is acceptable.
  • Ladies: avoid loud, flashy jewelry as it can be distracting. If you wear a skirt or dress, be sure it is an appropriate length. No cleavage!
  • Gentlemen: iron or steam out any wrinkles in your shirt. A tie is not required, but a button-down and nice jacket with dress shoes will surely make a good first impression.
  • Lastly, a smile is your best accessory!

Be Professional

  • Introduce yourself with confidence and shake the interviewer’s hand firmly. This is where you make your first impression, so smile, sound happy, and be confident!
  • As you introduce yourself, mention that it’s nice to meet them and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

Communication is Key

Here are some best practices for looking and sounding confident and professional during your interview:

  • Smile
  • Sit up straight. Don’t slouch! You don’t want to look bored or uninterested.
  • Maintain eye contact. Interviewers will often meet in crowded/noisy places to see how well you can hold your attention. Pretend like there is no one else in the room!
  • Don’t talk too fast, even if you’re nervous! Slow down and think about what you want to say before you say it. Pause if you need to.
  • Use inflection as you speak, you don’t want to come across as uninterested or bored! Sound excited and interested in the conversation (even if you aren’t!)
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
  • Be YOU!

Always Be Prepared

  • It’s always a good idea to bring a notebook and a pen to jot down a few notes.
  • Even if you sent over your resume before the interview, bring a copy for the interviewer and one for yourself to reference. Be sure you have reviewed your resume and can explain your experiences without reading straight from the document.
  • Leave your phone in the car. I know it’s tempting to play Candy Crush or scroll through Instagram if you’re early to the interview, but it doesn’t make a great first impression if your interviewer walks in and you look bored or impatient as you stare at the screen. Even if it’s on silent, a call or text vibrating in your pocket or purse is a huge distraction.

Be Yourself

  • Don’t be someone you’re not. The whole point of the interview is for the interviewer to learn more about you!
  • Be confident, not cocky. Don’t be modest about your skills; speak highly of yourself and be descriptive about your many accomplishments!
  • Come prepared with examples/stories of when you showed leadership skills, problem solving skills, or multi tasked effectively.

Know Your Facts

  • Research the school before your interview. Why do you want to attend that particular university? Is it the athletic programs? Is it the campus? Or maybe the student organizations? Have a good idea of what draws you to that school.
  • It’s okay if you don’t know what your major will be. That’s normal! However, if you start talking about an interest in engineering and that school doesn’t have an engineering program, you’re not only wasting the interviewer’s time but you’re also wasting your own time. Do your research beforehand!
  • Ask questions about the university. Even if it’s your dream school, there are things you won’t know about it. Now is a great opportunity to learn more about the best study spots on campus or the best dorm to live in.

Follow Up

  • After you’ve nailed the interview, there’s one last step! Don’t forget to follow up.
  • Take the time to write a personal “thank you” card 1-2 days after the interview. Keep it short and sweet! Thank them for their time and reference something that you talked about in the interview to show that you were attentive and remember what you discussed.
  • For example, “Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me on Friday. I appreciate you sharing more information about student organizations and campus dining. I’m looking forward to joining the Habitat for Humanity club should I be admitted into [your school]. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions. Best, [your name].”
Share This Article