College interviews are an exciting part of the college application process. Not every school offers interviews, and most schools don’t require them, but there are some potential benefits to interviewing at a college. For most students, college interviews are the first time they are likely to be interviewed in that kind of setting, so it can be pretty darn nerve-racking.
This article will help give you some tips and tricks to prepare for your next college interview, as well as help you figure out what you should bring to a college interview. It’s essential to go into an interview feeling prepared and confident since these traits can show through your performance, and your interviewer will likely pick up on them.
How to Prepare for Your College Interview?
Understanding what to expect from your college interview is a great way to start feeling more prepared for the interview. Generally, college interviews allow you to get to know the school more and for the school to get to know you. This is an excellent time for a school to get to know you more as a person and less as a name on a piece of paper. While college interviews are almost never the deciding factor between acceptance or rejection, they can really help with the admissions team’s choice.
Think about yourself
The best way to prepare for the part of the interview where they will be asking you questions is to reflect on your time in high school and start thinking about what you want out of your college experience. They will likely ask you questions about what you do in high school, what you are interested in, and why you are applying to their school. Having already taken some time to reflect on these things on your own will help you feel more prepared to put together an eloquent answer in the moment.
Come up with questions about the school
It is also important to prepare for the part of the interview where you get to ask questions as it shows your interest in the school. Make sure that you do your research ahead of time and have a few questions prepared. It is best to bring a notebook into the interview with you and have your questions already written down so you don’t forget them and so you can record your answers.
Know what you want to talk about
If you have anything that you particularly want to discuss in your interview, make sure you prepare for that. This could be a skill that you have that you really want to highlight somehow, but this is also a great time to talk to your interviewer about anything that might not look so great about you on paper. For example, if you had a medical or family emergency and needed to take some time off in high school, this is a perfect time to explain that.
Make a plan for the day
When you are preparing for your interview, you should also figure out what you will be bringing with you to the interview and your general plan for the day. You really don’t need to bring much with you to a college interview, but we do recommend bringing a pen and paper with your questions written down. This also gives you a great place to take notes if you think of anything throughout the interview.
It can also be nice to have something to drink with you during the interview, but it is best to avoid anything that might make your breath smell bad or turn your tongue a funny color. Try to stick with water, but if you really want something else, you could bring something like an herbal tea or put some lemon in your water.
Some colleges like for you to bring your resume to a college interview, but not all colleges require this. It is essential to read any information the college provides on what they want you to bring and how they want you to prepare for their interview.
Arrive on time
The best tip for a college interview, really any interview, is to arrive on time. As part of your preparation for the day, you should map out how to get everywhere you will be going and leave enough time to account for traffic or any other chaos that could potentially happen. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early, so you have some buffer room if you are running late. This also gives you time to go to the bathroom, get some water, and be fully ready for the interview.
How Should You Dress for a College Interview?
Dressing for success at a college interview is pretty straightforward. This is an excellent time for you to express your personality through your clothing choices, but what you wear should still be professional and put together. There really are no set rules for how to dress, but there are some general expectations of what you should be wearing and not wearing.
Most colleges don’t expect you to come wearing a three-piece suit or anything of that level of formal dress, but being put together is a good start. Wearing an appropriate skirt or dress is a great option for girls, but feel free to wear a pair of slacks or nice, clean pants with no rips or stains on them. While it is best to avoid jeans, wearing black jeans with a nice white blouse, or something along those lines, is a totally appropriate outfit.
For boys, the most important thing is to not wear a T-shirt. Make sure you are wearing nice pants, either slacks or clean dark wash jeans. Make sure your outfit looks put-together and neat. Wearing casual items such as a hoody or sneakers are frowned upon since they don’t give any indication that you really care about this interview.
Regardless of what you choose to wear, it is important to think about the message you are sending with the college interview outfit you choose. Try to limit the number of accessories that you have and don’t go over-the-top with any perfume or cologne, as these things can tend to be overwhelming and detract from what you have to say. While what you wear to a college interview is important, it is not nearly as important as what you have to say, so just make sure you are comfortable in your clothing choices and look neat and tidy.
Should You Bring Your Phone to a College Interview?
The short answer is no, but this really means that your interviewer shouldn’t know where your phone is. If you turn your phone off and zip it into a jacket pocket or a bag that you have with you, there is no reason why you can’t have your phone with you. The main concern with having your phone is that it will be a distraction, so if you think it will be a distraction, leave it with your parents or guardians outside the interview room.
You should not get your phone out at all during the interview, and you should not put your phone out on the table. If you keep your phone out of sight and out of mind, then where you actually keep your phone is totally up to you. Being glued to your phone or easily distracted by your phone isn’t a good look, though, so make sure it won’t bother you at all.
If, for some reason, you feel that you do need to have your phone with you, like if a family emergency is unfolding or a loved one is expected to come out of surgery soon, make sure you explain that to your interviewer and communicate with them about what they think is best. There are very few reasons you should need to have your phone during an interview, so just remember that you should not see your phone at all during the interview unless it’s a real emergency.
What Should You Not Bring to a College Interview?
Although there are some college interview essentials, such as a pen and paper, there are also some things that you should avoid bringing into a college interview. The general idea is that you shouldn’t bring anything that might distract you or the person conducting your interview into the interview room with you. Not only could this detract from the interview, but it is disrespectful to your interviewer to be distracted the whole time.
Generally, this means that you should avoid bringing things like headphones or your phone into the interview. Things like gum can also be a significant distraction. Avoid picking or biting your nails or any other habit that you have that is not likely to be viewed as professional or could be interpreted as you not being engaged or interested in the interview.
Wrapping Things Up: What to Bring to a College Interview?
College interviews are for the college to get to know you, so make sure you are you. Try to look put-together and organized, but don’t pretend to be someone that you are not. Making sure that you are prepared and have anything you need to bring with you together the night before your interview is a great way to help manage any nerves that you may have. Remember that college interviews are about you, and you are the only true expert on you, so relax, breathe, and have fun.