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Ace-ing the Interview!

April 10, 2014

1Admissions interviews can be really tough for many of us. It is an opportunity for you to present yourself to the university faculty. In other words, you need to know how to market yourself. Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to be one of the interviewers for the admission interview process. During the process, it was not difficult to recognize some students are more anxious than the others. And the sad thing is, this performance anxiety can become the obstacle for you to reach your goal. Before your nerves get the better of you, learn what to expect – and how to ace your college interview.

Understanding the process

What is the interview for? It is usually an opportunity for the admission officers to look for qualities that cannot be reflected in the application. Interviewing is another extra opportunity for you to display your strong interest to the program, and it lets the interviewers get to know your personality behind those GPA and GRE scores. Therefore, please don’t hide yourself during the interview. Speak up!

Also, please don’t hesitate to contact the admissions office and the department about your questions and concerns. It is another way to show your sincerity and passion to the school. Some interviewers may recognize your name because you had contacted them before. It is a good start to let them remember you.

Be prepared!

Just like any other examinations, you need to be prepared in order to make good impressions from the interviewers. Research the college/program by checking out its website, brochure, and course catalog. Learn as much about the institution as possible before you walk into the interview. Knowing what is the school mission may give you a hint on what are the qualities do the interviewers are looking for.

Review your application materials. Refreshing your mind about what makes you special. Interviewers may not remember everything on your application. It is your role to emphasize what you want them to know about you.

Practice some generic and specific questions. There are usually few basic questions that you probably know already: Why do you want to go to USD? What do you expect to gain from the program? How would you prepare yourself to the program? You will also want to prepare for questions that ask you to identify key topics or experiences that are important to you. Think in advance about some of your experiences that can link back to the interest of your major. Something that are unique about you and allow the interviewers to remember you.

Ask questions. Show your interest in the school by asking specific question. Of course, don’t ask question that can be easily answered by reading the school’s brochure.

2On the BIG day

Profession attire never goes wrong for an interview. Make sure you spare some time to look for directions if you are not familiar with the area. Plan  to arrive at least 15 minutes early. The extra time will let you take a few minutes to relax and prepare yourself physically and mentally. Introduce yourself to the faculty, and greet them with a handshake and smile. 🙂

Again, this is the time to sell yourself. Please don’t answer the question simply with a “yes” or “no.” Elaborate your answer with specific examples, just as what you might usually do on your essay. Also, be honest and positive! You don’t want to fake the answer, because people can tell. Be yourself and be honest, that is the key! Highlight the good things about yourself and put a positive “spin” your background. Remember, problems can be also viewed as challenges!

Follow up

Make notes about the interview. Send a thank-you note to the interviewer. Thank the person for his or her time and refer to somethings specific that you both have discussed.

Last but not least, remember to RELAX!

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