Beacon College

Nailing the College Interview

by Jean Burk,

A student’s entire future can hinge upon the success of the college interview. Those thirty minutes could be the difference between  Harvard and a community college, or scholarships and student loans. An applicant’s potential can be determined by just this one meeting. Preparation is of the utmost importance. Students can lessen the stress and heighten the success of their college interview by knowing some simple guidelines.

Appearance is key. Attire, neatness, and attitude are the first things noticed by an interviewer. Dress modestly. Shower, iron your clothes, and use light cologne. Be confident and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake. Always look him or her directly in the eye. Be in control. If a question throws you off-guard, never lose your cool.

At the interview, have your personal file with you, even if the school already has access to these important documents. Bring any finished projects relating to your proposed field of study. If you are interested in journalism, bring published articles from your school newspaper or writing samples. Include a smiling picture of yourself with these documents; this keeps your face on the mind of the interviewer long after you have left.

Be ready to answer a range of questions. Topics may include current events, literary works, and influential people in your life. Be descriptive. Answer with a paragraph, not just a single sentence. Always be honest, even if that means admitting ignorance. You may be asked you to describe your favorite ice cream flavor and how it represents you. Don’t let the interview become a one-sided conversation. Have questions prepared for the interviewer. Most importantly, hold a mock interview beforehand and practice with possible questions.

Prepare by researching the school’s campus life, classes and atmosphere. During the meeting, speak as if you are already planning to attend their college (E.g., “When I go here, I’m going to join the newspaper and run for student government.”). If the interviewer fails to notice some of your best assets, feel free to bring them up. These might include your SAT score, your G.P.A., community service, and leadership skills.

Hopefully, at the end of the interview you will hear, “I think you are a good match for this school.” Don’t be surprised if the interviewer keeps silent. Most colleges follow-up the interview by sending their answer in the mail. Be sure to send a thank you note to the person who interviewed you. He or she will probably keep it next to the picture of your smiling face.

This article is the work of author, Jean Burk. It is the property of Maven of Memory Publishing. Visit for further information.