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Crushing the College Interview

While some colleges are no longer requiring or even offering interviews keep in mind that some still do. College interviews are an excellent way to demonstrate interest, personalize your application file and give the college a more holistic read of who you are and if you are a good fit for their school. In reverse, it gives you an opportunity to see if their institution is a good fit for you. Whether you request an interview or it is a required part of an institution's application process it is wise to prepare. Keep in mind that there are two parts to any interview. 1.The Content 2. Presentation. Content,simply put, is the answers to the questions you are asked, and what about you that you wish to convey. Presentation is dressing respectfully, no ripped jeans or logo shirts, nothing too revealing, or over the top, offering a firm hand shake, making eye contact, sitting without fidgeting or hair twirling and making sure you pay attention to your body language. Are you leaning in to listen and engage your interviewer? When you leave make sure you shake hands again, thank them. Leave a resume, so they have it as a reference for later when they write their notes.

Even though there is no way to predict exactly how an interview will go, there are ways to prepare and several common questions that may be asked in various forms. The advice I like to share with my students comes from industry expert Monica James. She says to imagine a silver platter with your favorite cupcakes on it. Each cupcake represents something about yourself that you want to make sure gets served during the interview. Your job is to deliver each one of those cupcakes to the interviewer at appropriate times. When preparing for your interview, bullet point every single thing you want out there before the interview is over. Students should not worry that this will become a monologue, because interviews are conversational in nature and you will share the cupcakes one at a time. By preparing in this way, you will have the answers to the some commonly asked questions. Other questions to be prepared to answer include the "Why our college?" question, and "What attributes will you bring that contribute to our campus?". Make sure you have 2-3 points to share for each. "What books do you like to read or have you read lately?" can be a favorite. Here, if you like to read books or have a favorite author you will be set. If you don't read a lot of books, you can speak to other things that you read that are of interest, like blogs or magazines. Typically you can expect some type of "strengths and weaknesses" question. Try not to sugar coat your answer or disguise a strength as a weakness. Be honest without damaging yourself and you will sound more authentic and self aware. Explain what strategies you use to overcome weaknesses.

Be sure to look on the internet to find more commonly asked questions and make a list. No matter what question you are answering consider your delivery. Remember that it is easiest to receive information through a story. Another way to strengthen a response is to offer examples as evidence. This will lend depth to your answers. And finally, have some questions to ask the interviewer about the college after all you are interviewing them as well.

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