- An interview is stressful for most of us. So relax. Don't be scared and don't worry about how you look or what they will ask you. Remember: almost everybody is nervous at an interview. The admissions staff know this and will do their best to make you feel comfortable, at ease and as relaxed as possible.
The trick is to not let your nerves get the better of you. Use your nerves to give you that natural edge and alertness you need to present yourself in the best light possible.
- Be on your best behavior, socially speaking, but be yourself. Always turn off your cell phone before you go into the interview. It is rude to text or read messages during an interview.
- Good posture makes a strong impression. So sit tall. Don't slouch in your chair. Don't jitter. Don't bite your nails or pull at your hair. Never chew gum.
Be polite and respectful. 'Please' and 'thank you' are always appreciated and go a long way to indicating respect for authority and your elders.
- Wear comfortable clothes appropriate to the occasion. Use minimal makeup. Keep your hairstyle simple.
Gentlemen: a plain shirt, slacks and shoes (no sneakers) work for most situations.
Ladies: a plain blouse, skirt or slacks and dress shoes with a conservative heel are appropriate.
There is nothing wrong with expressing your individuality. Just make sure that the way you express it is appropriate.
- What about piercings and tattoos? Most conservative schools will probably not appreciate your metal and artwork. A few schools with a liberal, progressive philosophy might. Cover the tattoos and remove the metal if you are really keen on getting into a particular school which you know will look askance at such things. Or just be yourself in an interview at a school which has a liberal view.
- Think positively. As a rule, the school will be trying to sell itself to you as much as you are trying to sell yourself to it. Listen carefully to what is being said. Is what you are hearing what you want to hear or is the school just not suitable for you? You will get a feel for that early in the interview.
- Don't panic. If you don't know the answer to the interviewer's question, say so. Look her in the eye and admit that you do not know the answer. If she asks why you failed algebra, explain why that happened and what you are doing about it. If attending their school is part of your strategy for improvement, say so.
Honesty is an admirable personal quality which schools prize in an applicant.
- Ask questions about the school, its programs and facilities. Find out how it can help you achieve your goals. Determine as best you can how the school's philosophy meshes with yours.
- Think before you answer. Avoid mannerisms such as 'like' and 'you know'. Careless speech patterns can indicate a lack of discipline and general sloppiness. Standard business English is always acceptable. That does not mean that you have to repress your personality. If you are a free spirit, let that side of you show. Communicate clearly and convincingly. Make your points without being rude or overbearing.
- Keep a 3 x 5 card handy with questions you want to ask each school. You don't have to be mechanical about asking questions. Just be sure to cover the topics you and your parents want to know more about. For example, you may be an avid linguist who wants to study Mandarin. Ask in depth questions about the Chinese Studies program, its faculty and so on.
- Give truthful answers. If you are not a top student, admit it and tell the interviewer how you plan to achieve better results. Interviewers like to see an honest appraisal of one's strengths and weaknesses. If you can point to some challenge you had in your school work, for example, not understanding quadratic equations, and how you overcame that, you will impress the interviewer with your positive attitude and approach to life.
This goes back to being honest. If you are honest and truthful, you will learn more and learn more easily.
- When the interview is over, record your observations and compare these with your parents. Both of you will want to discuss these observations with your consultant later. Those recollections are important because they help determine which school is the best fit for you.
- Send a handwritten thank you note to your interviewer. It will speak volumes for your ability to follow through and your personal sincerity.
Don't write a novel. Something like this is appropriate:
I enjoyed meeting you last Saturday and having a chance to visit St. Mary's.
- Shake hands firmly and confidently. Look the interviewer in the eye.
- Do not chew gum or anything else.
- Do not display tattoos or pierced body parts unless you are certain the school will appreciate the artwork.
- Get a good night's sleep before your interview.
- Check out the school's website immediately before your interview.
What You Need
- 3 x 5 cards