The college interview – survival of the fittest?

13 Sep

When applying to college, writing a motivation letter or a personal statement is usually the easier part. You can usually consult your friends, teachers or other applicants and gradually improve the final document that you will hand in. However, the paradise ends at the very moment you get invited for an interview (presumably at a highly competitive university you really care about). Now it is going to be your turn to show what you are really worth.

Let´s assume that you have already a) prepared for the interview and know what is expected of you, b) managed to reach your desired destination, and c) are now about to go to the interview. Is there anything you can do ten minutes before you are offered a 15 – minute chance to make an impression? Are there any simple tricks that can make you less likely to fail? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Let´s look at some of them:

1. Be on time. Nothing worsens your prospects to get a place than a late arrival for the interview with a feeble excuse (I needed to call my mom, I was watching Battlestar Galactica, I ate too many muffins at breakfast and thus was sick… you name it).

2. Dress up. Not only that a suit or a (long!) formal skirt look more professional, but they also make you feel more professional (and hence more confident) than – for example – if you wore your favourite “Go, go Power Rangers!“ T-shirt.

3. Have a pen and a scrap of paper in your pocket. You never know what you will need to write down. Warning: NEVER play with a pen when answering questions (or any other object, for that matter) – you will look more nervous than you probably are.

4. Do what you have to do. If you know you need to calm down with your favourite song and breakdance, do it. If you know that tons of chocolate work for you, go for it. If you are certain that you are going to vomit, try to do so before, not during the interview. Seriously.

5. Don´t get freaked out by other applicants. Just because that young gentleman ran away from the interview in tears doesn´t mean that you have just seen your inescapable destiny. And even if you felt the need to burst into tears during the interview, please – save it for later. Big girls don´t cry – not to mention big boys. Right?

6. Be yourself. Be enthusiastic about the things you do, show them that you are “more than a test score“. Have you won a maths competition? That doesn´t make you a nerd, that makes you special. In a good way. Remember that.

7. “When you are nervous, stop being nervous and start being awesome instead.“ Honestly, this one works like magic. 🙂

Surviving a college interview is tough. Having a good feeling about your performance is probably even more difficult – but that does not mean that you should not give it a try. However, there is one thing you should always keep in mind: They wouldn´t have invited you if they hadn´t seriously considered offering you a place.

Good luck!


Posted by on 13 September, 2011 in Education


2 responses to “The college interview – survival of the fittest?

  1. patricklundcph

    17 September, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    And all of these pointers work in a job interview situation as well. However, one thing I think is also very important is that anybody who’s trying to succeed in an interview – whether it’s landing a job or getting accepted at the college – should do the initial research.
    Most HR-people ask potential new emploees a few questions about what they think of the company, what they can contribute with, where they want to take it in the future. If you can’t answer these questions, you shouldn’t expect a call-back. The fact that you’re prepared for the job interview reflects how you will be prepared in the future, only this time representing the company.

    We have had many job interviews for various positions at Graduateland. Many of these applications are generated via our own site, however we’ve also spoken with people, who have heard of the positions from elsewhere. And some of these guys (they have all been guys, for some reason) had not even created a student profile on our portal. WTF! How can you expect to get a job in a company, whose core services revolve around attracting users, if you don’t even wanna create a profile yourself? Forget it.

    I assume this also makes some sense when talking to a university…


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