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Ten Tips for Successful College Interviews

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A productive college interview requires preparation and enthusiasm. While an interview won't get you admitted, it can reinforce why you should be.

College interviewers are often surprised at how poorly prepared many students are for their interviews. Don't be one of them. As your interview nears, prepare by reviewing these tips.

  • Research the school. You should be ready to explain why you are applying. Prepare concrete examples of what you like about the school.
  • Prepare ahead of time. Print out directions to the interview site. Review what you wrote in your application to the college. Write down your questions. Don't invite anyone to tag along. And don't arrive hungry.
  • Present yourself well. Dress neatly and conservatively. No jeans or T-shirts. Arrive a little ahead of time. Smile. Be polite. Shake the interviewer's hand. Talk naturally but without slang or swear words.
  • Bring a resume or activity list. This will spark some questions that allow you to showcase your talents and achievements.
  • Show your enthusiasm and energy. The interview is designed to give you a chance to show why you want to attend this college. Make sure your answers show your enthusiasm.
  • Anticipate common questions. Many interviewers will ask you to describe yourself and explain what you will contribute to the college. In both cases, be as specific as possible and use vivid examples that show off your unique talents.
  • Speak for at least a minute or two after each question. If you can't think of an answer, ask for more explanation of the question. Answer as decisively and positively as you can.
  • Don't forget to ask your own questions. Interviewers expect you to do this, and it shows your keen interest in the college. Ask questions that show you have done some research. For example, ask about an academic program that interests you.
  • Don't mention your test scores or GPA. The interviewer already has that information. You are presenting the person behind the "stats."
  • Follow up. Get the name and contact information of the interviewer. Send a short thank-you note by mail or e-mail.

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