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There are several reasons why an interview is important.
All this aside, a study once conducted by College Board, Educational Testing Service, at nine selective private institutions concluded that interviews can be very important, especially for those who fall in the broad middle range of candidates who are qualified but not exceptional (Personal Qualities and College Admissions, College Entrance Examination Board, 1982). At the same time your interview may provide important information, which will help you in the first decision regarding your choice of colleges. Therefore, plan to have personal interviews and take the steps necessary to make your interviews highly productive and extremely worthwhile. Don’t not be like most people who waste the opportunity to make their interview a critical factor in the decisions made by them and the colleges of their choice.
Typically, you and your parents will be seated in the lobby of the admissions office waiting for your interviewer to come out and introduce him or her. When you hear your name called, stand and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a friendly relaxed look on your face. Be prepared to introduce the interviewer to anyone who has accompanied you on the visit. The interviewer will chat for a moment with your parents before excusing the two of you to go into an interview office for the private one-on-one phase of the process. It is important that you speak with your interviewer alone and not let your parents do your talking for you.
A productive visit depends upon your being able to schedule enough time to absorb something of each campus, especially if you are traveling a great distance and going too much time and expense in making the call. The ingredients of a successful visit include the following:
Not all these ingredients are available or possible all the time. For example, classes are not usually held on Saturdays and some institutions frown on strangers spending the night in dormitories. Many colleges, however, will offer incentives (for example, free meal tickets and an overnight host program) to make certain that the prospective applicants do visit and make the most of their opportunity. Again, your telephone call to the appointment secretary should include the question “what opportunities do you offer to visiting prospective applicants?”
The admission staff wants to gather information on the “total” student: academic and educational potential, motivation, and personality traits. More specifically, the skilled interviewer will be collecting evidence of the following:
The first three to five minutes of most interviews are used to “break the ice”. Let the interviewer speak the first words, to set the tone. You will be asked a few questions of a general nature that do not require a great deal of thought. Just allow the conversation to flow. Be careful to monitor your answers to a moderate length. As you begin to relax and enjoy the process, the interviewer will move into topics that are relevant to the college selection process, questions that delve more deeply into your personality and give you an opportunity to think on your feet. This should be fun if you have done some thinking about yourself and the topics that might be discussed. Answer the questions to the best of your knowledge and ability. Here are a few questions that a college interviewer might ask:
As soon as the interviewer feels you have had enough time to present yourself, he or she will ask if you have any questions. Here is where your preparation becomes very apparent. Good questions to ask can be the following:
Upon entering the interview room, take whatever chair is offered. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE THE CHAIR ANY CLOSER TO THE INTERVIEWER. In all probability the chair has been strategically placed at a distance the interviewer is comfortable talking with you. Just as “actions speak louder than words” the non-verbal behavior you exhibit will be the yardstick which the interviewer measure your words, attitude, and intentions. Be aware of your sitting posture. Assume a natural sitting position, one that is comfortable bit appropriate to the situation. Sitting rigidly on the edge of the chair indicates uneasiness or over anxiousness. Slouching conveys disinterest. And sitting with arms and legs tightly crossed suggests hostility or over-aggression. Holding your body alert, hands rested easily on the chair or in your lap and legs crossed comfortably at the knees or ankles suggest a receptive “open” attitude toward the interviewer and the interview process.
An interviewer's worst nightmare is trying to sustain a conversation with someone who responds monosyllabically or who stares disinterestedly out the window or at a wall. Eye contact implies forthrightness and is perhaps the single most expressive non-verbal message you will send. Take care to meet the interviewer “eye to eye” both as he or she speaks to you and as you respond to questions. The interview is your opportunity to add depth through the written word. There is something in the cliché “ it’s not what you say but how you say it”. The tone of your voice, it’s volume and the inflection you use can either hold or lose the listener’s attention. Avoid mumbling, speaking in monotone and giving one-syllable responses. You deserve to be heard. Attentiveness, posture, appropriate eye contact and the overall quality of verbal expression will help to ensure that you hold your attention.