The Admissions Interview
Interviews are nerve racking to say the least. This is it: just you and the admissions experts. You need to convince this committee why they should let you attend their school. Talk about pressure! There are plenty of ways not to have a total nervous breakdown at the interview; all it takes is time and a little practice.
Prior to the interview, start thinking about what you are going to say. You should consider what makes you a unique and vital addition to the school. Think about your interests, your strengths, all of your activities. For example, there are plenty of applicants with a 4.0 GPA and awesome test scores. The usual sports, cheer leading, school clubs and band are all the same. What makes you different? Are you a leader at your school? Do you write, or have you been published? Have you started a non-profit or been a head volunteer for a major organization? These are the things that set you apart from the crowd.
Take a good look at yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. The admissions committee may ask you what your weaknesses are. Even Superman had Kryptonite. Be prepared to answer this question. If you are expecting this question it will not catch you off guard and you will already know what you are going to say.
Now that you have some idea of what to say, let’s work on the sweaty palms, the stuttering, the nausea…. The best way to do this is to learn how to speak in front of people and this is really difficult for many of us. Practice talking to people in a confident way. Never look down; it is a sign of weakness. Look the admissions committee straight in the eye when you address a single person. When speaking to a group, find a focal point on the area in back of them that is at eye level with the majority of the group. Talk to that spot. Confidence is very effective, having an over inflated ego is not. Be sure you know the difference.
Think of the interview from a different perspective. It is not a final judgment of you. It is an exchange of ideas to see if this situation is a good fit between you and the school. Come armed with a few questions for the admissions committee. It will show that you are as interested in them as they are in you and that you put some thought into the interview.
Being well prepared is the best defense against nervousness. Most likely you will feel butterflies in your stomach. A little nervousness is expected and it is a good thing. However, don’t let fear paralyze you.
A final recommendation is to consider turning the interview theme into how you will help contribute to their particular institution. The interview on the surface is about you, but beneath it all, it’s about how you can represent, enhance and contribute to the academic milieu of that particular school.