Before the InterviewMeet with your counselor to prepare a resume, updated transcripts, and grade reports. Your interviewer might request these items ahead of time, or you could bring them in the day of your interview. If the interviewer does not ask for them beforehand, it is a good way to show that you are prepared and organized. When you talk to your counselor, ask if he or she will help you with a mock interview. Your counselor will be able to give you feedback on your responses and help you come up with answers to some of the trickier questions the interviewer might ask. In a recent interview I attended at Denison University, my twin sister and I, in separate interviews, were asked some of the following questions: • Why are you here?
• What is your favorite book?
• What are you best at?
• What makes you different from all the applicants?
• What is your favorite subject in school? Least favorite?
• Have you ever failed big time?
• What would you do outside of class should you attend this school?
• Explain [insert item] on your transcript.
If you cannot set up a mock interview, write down responses to these questions to at least get an idea of what your interview will be like.
During the InterviewKeep in mind the things that you are good at and return to those things if you get stuck on a question. Be honest and open; the interviewer is not looking for a cookie-cutter student. Do not be afraid to express concerns or fears – some interviewers will even ask about past failures. Show the interviewer that you can overcome those concerns, fears and failures and prove that you have grown since then. Have fun with the questions. Express your personality, your likes and dislikes, and your passions. The interviewers are looking for those sorts of things to see if you would be a good fit for their school. The interviewer may be impressed by your grades and your participation in the school band, but he or she wants to see more than what is on paper. Show how you are different and how you can contribute to the student body. Another thing to keep in mind is the interviewer. He or she will likely tell you a little about his or her experiences at the school, so make sure to pay attention and add your own personal experiences to the discussion. Be able to recall things he or she has told you and capitalize on it. Have you had a similar experience? Are you interested in similar things? For example, my sister, in her interview, was asked about her favorite book and, when she replied that her favorite is The Phantom Tollbooth, she was pleasantly surprised to find that her interviewer had also enjoyed the book. Similarly, my interviewer shared in my passion for volunteering with young children, and he was happy to tell me all about the little boy that he had mentored. If you share common interests or experiences, utilize them to your advantage and return to those things if you have trouble. Your interviewer will value that connection.
After the InterviewLeave a good impression by sending a handwritten thank-you card. Do not send one over email, although your interviewer will likely provide his or her email should you have any other questions. Wish him or her luck with his or her future endeavors and mention something you remember from the interview to personalize it. A generic thank-you will suffice, but personalizing it will leave a more lasting impression and show that you truly valued the experience. Keeping these tips in mind, you will be prepared for the interview and be able to take advantage of your time there. Relax and be yourself – that is the point of the interview anyway!
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