Acing College Interviews From an Admissions Officer
Former Admissions Officer Rachael shares her favorite strategies for putting your best foot forward in college interviews.
2021-11-21 Acing College Interviews From an Admissions Officer
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Acing college interviews. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download the slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi everyone. My name is Rachael Moore. I graduated from Valparaiso university, a school in the Midwest. Um, way more than I ever would want to tell you publicly right here. Um, I’ve worked in higher education for about. A little over 20 years now and also for, um, a fortune 200 company for a while doing early career talent development program management, um, really taking the skills that I’ve worked with in admissions with working with, you know, students from all different types of backgrounds, talents, and trusts, [00:01:00] and helping them to find the right fit the right place, where they will thrive, whether it’s in a college I’m working in admissions or in the corporate sphere where it was really seeing where.
Where a young adult would thrive and be able to present their best self and use their skills to contribute to something much bigger than themselves. So that’s really where my fire gets lit. Um, usually when I coach students, that’s one of the first questions I asked them, which is what lights your fire.
Um, and we’ll talk a little bit more about that during the presentation. Um, but I think that information’s just helpful for you to know where I come from and my perspective and why I love doing a panel like today’s with how to succeed in an interview. So it’s truly an honor to be here. I’ve been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks now.
Um, and certainly hoping I answer a lot of questions [00:02:00] that you might have going in, but, you know, throughout I know the chat is there. And if I don’t talk about something in the presentation that you’re curious about, I will be more than happy to answer it afterwards.
Okay, so we’re going to start off with a quick pause. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started, I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or I’m almost done. And that will sort of give us an idea of how close you are to interviews or if you’re still in the process of even looking at schools.
And while we wait for those to roll in, Rachael, can you tell us about any interview experience you had either in the admissions process or any time. Um, in terms of offering interviews or giving interviews to people or actually being interviewed by myself. How about both? Yes. I can [00:03:00] definitely talk about that.
I mean, one of the things about interviewing is that it’s an essential skill that we all have to have to build at some point. Um, and a lot of it is just thinking about it, like building a muscle, whether it’s preparing to interview someone for a college, for an internship, for, you know, first big job out of college, or later on many years down the line like myself, um, or, you know, thinking about as the interviewee, what it is that you want to get out of that experience in that interview, you know?
So, um, a lot of tips is just about, and we’ll talk about it, but. The best way to, I believe builds your confidence is to just continue doing your research, both of how you want to present yourself, but also, you know, the places that [00:04:00] you’re interviewing for. Okay. So it is looking like we have 14% of the audience haven’t started.
14% are researching schools. 24% are working on their essays. Another 24% are, um, getting the application materials together. And another 24, 20 4%, the lucky people are almost done. So we have a pretty good mix. I love that split. That’s awesome. Um, what I love about the mix is that it just shows that no matter where you are in the process, this is a topic that you recognize is important for you to have more information about.
So, and no matter what stage of life you’re in, there’s always something that positive that you’re going to be able to take away from this. So wonderful. All right. So we’ll start, um, from a 30,000 feet from the [00:05:00] air bird’s eye view of what is a college interview like, and I’m hoping that we can take some pressure and anxiety off, right from the get-go by what you’re going to hear from me a lot during this webinar, which is.
Take some pressure off of yourself, it’s truly a conversation. And the more that you think about it from that perspective, that it’s not just about someone asking you questions and helping to determine if you’re the right fit, you know, for a program that you’re interested in or an opportunity. It’s also the opportunity for you to do that as well.
Um, and so it’s, it’s questions back and forth and just, you know, getting comfortable with someone and being taught, being able to talk about yourselves, um, and something that you might have in common, which is the schools that you’re interested in. So. [00:06:00] And another great way to look at it is it’s an opportunity to focus on you, your interests, your future.
This is crazy exciting stuff. Um, so you know, the more you think about this as a tool that you can leverage to just continue to explore where the best places are for you to thrive, um, and just learn about the opportunities that are out there. Um, it really helps first to build conversation and ask questions, but it also just helps you to get to know yourself better.
Um, so again, going back to the conversation piece, it’s, it’s a conversation with a representative from the schools. It’s also an opportunity to really sort of have one with yourself, a deep one to one about what it is you really want and what you don’t want. Um, I’m just going to do a self or a shameless plug for the admissions [00:07:00] profession overall.
Um, it’s where I started over 20 years ago in higher education. Actually. It’s where I started as a student worker in college, working in the admissions office as an ambassador and. It’s just always been such a happy place for me, you know, to meet with people again, to, you know, who are just really excited about their future and how they want to navigate that future.
And just to be one voice and of support for them. Um, that is something that you will find in the admissions profession overall. Um, even if I haven’t, at times directly Batman admissions officer, um, to send education higher education, you will meet some of the most truly caring people who are just excited to be with college students, no matter what stage of life they are in and what age, and just to [00:08:00] see it as an honor to help you grow and be a support for you.
So definitely look at that as an opportunity there to just simply, you know, get yourself in front of some really great caring people. Um, the other pieces, think about it as a way to get the inside scoop of what someone can tell you what the school that you’re interested in is really about whether it’s an admissions representative, whether it’s an alum or a current student, a parent, whoever it might be.
Um, they’re going to be able to really give you an insider’s perspective of what that school has to offer. What makes it tick, what makes it, you know, its unique characteristics are and help to talk through. If that really is what you’re looking for, not.
So the question, what impact [00:09:00] do college interviews have on an application? Again, I’m hoping the answer to this generally will take some pressure off. Um, generally it’s an opportunity for you to learn and connect. It’s another way, um, for what we call is demonstrated interest as well for you to take the initiative and demonstrate how serious you are about your college search, um, by being, setting up an opportunity for a one-on-one conversation.
Um, so with that, that’s always a positive impact that it’s going to have on your application. And less. And we’ll talk about this later, what I mean by this, but unless something goes really terribly awry, um, during the interview that could have been controlled, um, this is not a make or break opportunity.
So again, taking some pressure off, they’re thinking about it as a conversation back and forth between you and the [00:10:00] interviewer. Um, You know, don’t look at it is that one conversation is going to absolutely make the decision or break that decision for an admissions office or, but what it certainly can do is allow you the opportunity to maybe elaborate on aspects of the application that you weren’t able to highlight as deeply as you would like to, um, through the written application itself.
Um, and just to personalize the experience both for yourself and the admissions representative by putting a face with your name and application materials, um, I’ll speak for myself that I always feel that if I can get in front of a person through my application, whether it’s a resume now, um, or if it was applying to college, then I was going to be fine.
Um, because I really feel, I thrive fast in that [00:11:00] one to one conversational type of atmosphere. Um, I think that can be a really helpful way for you to look at it for yourself as well. You know, if, if you have an interview, there are offering you that opportunity. It means that they see something there that they’re really excited about and they want to learn more and they want to support you as.
Does every school require a college interview? The simple answer to that is no, some don’t even offer them. Um, one of the schools that I previously worked at, not sure what the policy is now, it’s been a while, but because we wanted to make sure that students never felt that they got an unfair disadvantage because there wasn’t enough space in the schedule to offer everyone in interview.
Um, the admissions team decided we weren’t going to offer them at all. Um, and I, I always appreciated that perspective so [00:12:00] that a student could never feel that they were denied and not fair. You know, an opportunity that was unfair to them because some others got that advantage. Um, sometimes they do offer them and they may call it something more like an informational interview or a conversation conversation is, you know, even in the working world, a lot of times he will never hear the term interview when you are in fact applying or interviewing for a job.
Um, when I was moving into the corporate sphere, um, from higher education, it took me several months to realize like all those conversations that were being set up to network, um, were truly interviews. Um, but it really took some pressure off and allowed for more of a back and forth relationship building type of banter.
Um, and just getting to know [00:13:00] one another. So. Those are other terms that it could be called as well. But I think the main thing to think about is it’s not evaluative a lot at the time. Um, now some schools may require an interview. Um, oftentimes when that’s the case, it’s beyond general admission and it’s more for something specific like an honors program or really competitive scholarship opportunity or an ultra competitive academic program at the school.
So it’s really important to just read between the lines of the language of the interview opportunity that you’re signing up for the schools will tell you, you know, and if you have a question about, you know, the importance of the interview and the impact that it might have on your. [00:14:00] Application and decision, um, just ask them, is it evaluative or non-evaluative, is this informational, you know, is it something that is required?
Um, those questions will really help to have an idea of the purpose of it for each school.
Okay. So how do students get paired with interviewers in the area or remotely? Truly a lot of times it just depends on the resources that available are available and by resources it could be people. Um, a lot of schools rely on passionate alumni who love talking about their Alma mater. It’s a way to stay connected.
I’ve done that for mine in the past. Um, but you never know sometimes life happens and the alum that’s usually available isn’t at some point, or maybe it’s [00:15:00] not a really popular school from the area that you apply to. So, or that you’re from, so it might be harder to find alumni or current students, um, right in your community who, you know, you’d be able to talk with.
Um, that’s where the beauty of, I think even something positive came out of the pandemic is the zoom interviews. Um, Google meets, you know, how, whatever it may be, technologically FaceTime, even. You know, it’s really opened up the opportunity just to have more of that connection. Um, but it, again, in terms of how the students get paired schools, we’ll definitely try to pair you with someone who, whether it, you know, share some characteristic, whether it’s your hometown, whether it’s an academic major that you’re interested in, or, you know, a certain interest that you have, [00:16:00] um, they do their best to help you find some common ground.
Um, it initially from the beginning, because it just helps, you know, with starting that conversation. Um, again, physical location. We talked about that, um, from the second bullet that it just depends on what’s available. Um, it also depends on the state of the world at the time of the interview. Um, sometimes they may end up deciding not to offer them when things are in a lot of chaos, like we experienced a little over a year ago.
Um, but they’ll certainly do their best to answer questions and provide some sort of opportunity for personal connection, whether it’s either virtually or in person on campus.
I think again, one of the positive things that has come out of the pandemic is that there have [00:17:00] been a lot more opportunities for students to explore school and connect with others virtually. Um, they used to be, there was a lot of pressure to go in person earlier on in the college search process that puts a lot of stress on just time, money, um, that can be a strain for a lot of family.
So I really feel this has opened up a lot of opportunities for the college search and in interviews included in that.
Okay. How can students present themselves professionally? Um, I’m going to give you what I think is one of the best pieces of advice that I heard early on, um, in my years, which is dressed for the opportunity that you want next. Um, now I took the, that you want next piece out of that, um, because I wanted to be able to explain a little [00:18:00] bit more what that meant, um, in the working world.
You know, think about you don’t want to overdress if it’s an environment where everyone’s a little bit more casual, because you have to be careful about the, how that’s going to come off, maybe to people that you’ll be working with later on. Um, so, you know, you dress well, you take a look at, you know, how people generally dress in their environment day-to-day, um, and never wrong to err on the side of being conservative and maybe take it a step up.
Um, so for example, if day-to-day in the office, someone, you know, deans are loud, you know, don’t wear the jeans, you know, wear a nice pair of work pants in place of it. Um, or tailored pants and ablaze. For example, um, for college interviews, I would definitely tell you that it’s [00:19:00] not that you have to run out and get a suit by any means.
If you have that and that’s something you want to wear, um, that’s fine, but I would never ever sit here and tell you that that’s something you need to do. Um, moving forward, unless the school gives you an indication that it’s a really exclusive event where that’s the expectation. Again, if that’s the expectation, then the school was definitely going to let you know that ahead of time.
Um, but you know, again, I’d err, on the side of more conservative, that’s never going to, um, that’s not going to steer you wrong. So wanting to make sure that you know, your clothing doesn’t have a lot of sayings on it. That it’s more simple. Tailored to fit you well, um, for men or for women, you know, heels, you want to be comfortable if you’re a [00:20:00] woman don’t performance heels necessarily.
Um, it too, it’s just definitely going to be a little bit more comfortable for you, um, for men, just making sure you’re clean. Cut. Um, you know, I’m not saying you have to shave everything. A lot of moms will take that opportunity to tell you, um, that if that’s what they would love to see, um, just make sure that you’re presented will and pretty clean cut, um, when you’re making that first impression, but I’m going to go a step beyond the optics and say, you know, be confident, you know, smile.
It’s more about the energy that you’re radiating, um, than it is about. You know, a lot of times what specifically you’re wearing, they’re not looking for the name brand. And I will say, you know, something that. Yeah. Kind of glossed over earlier is, you know, dressing for, you know, the place as well, you know, in the business [00:21:00] world, if everyone can wear jeans, maybe just go a step up.
That’s fine. But if you’re applying to some schools that, for example, a lot of art schools, for example, um, you know, they’re just different vibes that, you know, take, take a cue from the marketing materials that they have to offer and on their website, um, and to show that you’ve taken care, um, to present the best version of yourself there, um, But again, who you are that confidence, smiling, being comfortable to ask questions, doing your research, um, about a school.
And we’ll talk a little bit about that. Moving forward, just being engaged. That is the best way to present yourself professionally. Um, because it’s showing the thought and the energy and the time that you have put into the preparation. And that is just an invaluable professional [00:22:00] characteristics that you really can’t put a price tag on by it.
You can’t quantify that.
What topics of conversation are likely to come up in the interview? Um, I could write this list. I could put this on slides for about a dozen more cause there, you know, when it becomes a conversation, I think you get more comfortable asking questions. Um, Really at the end of the day, I want you to think about what is it that you want the admissions representative to remember about you specifically, a lot of people would call that your personal brand, you know, that you’re trying to communicate on your application verbally, um, in person, you know, even via [00:23:00] your emails, if you’re having correspondence with admissions officers and students, um, think about.
You want people to remember? Um, and what stands out about you when they see or hear your name? Um, so one of the ways that you can do that is really thinking about the type of questions about what interests you in the school. You know, they’ll start out really easy, um, in the beginning. Um, well, the first question usually for me after over 20 years of working is still my least favorite question, which is, tell me about yourself.
Um, it’s one of those questions where you don’t want to overthink it, but you also don’t want to lose out on the opportunity to really present how prepared you are. Um, Okay. If you think about how I opened the [00:24:00] conversation, I really, I didn’t want to focus on a resume, the resume that I had and all the different places that I worked, or a lot of times, I don’t even talk about where I went to school.
Um, because I want people to think, I understand what it is that lights my fire. So I talked about how I so excited to be here because I get to be in front of people who really want to learn and learn how to be. The best versions of themselves, um, what lights their fire, helping to give you tools that are going to help set you up for success moving forward, whether it’s now looking at colleges, whether it’s in the future, um, but that you are never going to go wrong with an approach like that, you know?
So certainly give your name, your hotel, your hometown. Um, I always suggest be gracious and start out by talking about how you’re [00:25:00] so excited to be there. Um, you can talk about what, you know, you like to do for fun, but that will also be a question later on. Um, so keep it simple, but give them enough that they can, the interviewer can tag off of that.
Um, once you finish telling them about you. One question that you should definitely be prepared to answer are what got you interested in the college in the first place, you know, and it can be something as simple as you got something in the mail from them. So you just thought you check it out. Maybe their marketing really attracted you to open up.
Um, it could be people that, you know, that went there could be that your mom told you, you had to look at this college, um, or grandparent or someone. So, you know, be able to answer that question though. What got you interested in, what’s brought you there in front of them that you continue to want to [00:26:00] learn more.
You definitely want to speak to your interest in the school in general. Um, as well as the school specifically that you’re meeting with. So, you know, what excites you about going to college? What makes you nervous about going to college and be transparent about that? That little bit of vulnerability? Um, again, can really open up conversation and connection with the person that’s interviewing you, um, because they they’re their cause because they love their Alma mater or the.
The school that they work for or that they attend and they care. Um, so being transparent about what makes you nervous, um, but also being willing to share about what just gets you so excited. Um, that’s an opportunity for connection. Um, so be ready to talk about that. I think those are some of the greatest questions that, um, you can get asked.
[00:27:00] Um, my hope is always that students will really jump on that and see it as an opportunity. You know, talk about your favorite classes in school. That’s, there’s no right or wrong answer to that. Sometimes it could be an elective, but something you’ve learned about yourself or were able to do that you never thought of before that, you know, became really valuable experience for you.
You know, be honest about that. Definitely talk about what it is you like to do for fun. If there are activities that you’re involved in, um, can be anything, um, So talk about that and how you spend your time outside of the classroom activities, service, you know, when you’re in college, are you interested in studying abroad research?
Um, whatever it may be if you’re moving to a certain area geographically, that you’re interested in, talk about why you’re so [00:28:00] excited about that, or you’re seeking that out. Um, be ready to talk about what is it that you must have in a college that’s really important to you? Um, different characteristics and resources that they have, um, be ready to ask, you know, a great question to ask is what does a typical day in the life of a college look like for you?
Um, what do you think this is gonna look like? And then be ready. Um, bring a notebook to ask them questions as well. They’re going to ask what questions do you have for me? And a lot of times they’re going to start out with that. Um, some people love that most people don’t. Um, so it’s helpful to really think about that ahead of time.
Have your lists, your notebook with you, personal tip for you is never go anywhere without a notebook. Um, because the one time you don’t have, it is going to be the time that you need it. Um, and it shows that you’re [00:29:00] prepared. Um, so take your notebook and ask them questions. Like, what did you love about that school?
You know, why are you here today? You know, what is it that you wish you knew when you were applying to school? That would be helpful for me. If you’re really brave. Um, and I encourage you to be, you know, say, are there any reservations you have about anything I’ve talked about and my fit, um, so that you can clarify, um, if it is in fact the right fit, um, maybe you’re questioning that in the interview and that’s part of why you’re there.
Um, but be ready. Um, because again, these people care they’re out for your best interests as well. Um, so take advantage of it.
Okay. How can students present themselves in the best way possible? Um, [00:30:00] be authentic again, that goes back to the whole. Tell me about yourself, asking questions, you know, just be authentic, be you be ready to talk about what excites you, um, what lights your fire, you know, share, just sharing all about why you’re so happy to be there and in this process.
And like I said before, ask questions. We want you to be engaged
topics to avoid. Um, this is definitely. Um, because you know, as much as we want you, to be honest, there are just some things you wouldn’t tell everybody completely out in the open and being able to have that judgment, um, demonstrate the judgment, to be, know what to talk about and what not to talk about is going to be really [00:31:00] important representation of you, you know, things to avoid the latest drama in school, no matter how much it might’ve something at school might’ve impacted your day.
Um, when you’re interviewing with someone in the evening, it’s not what you want to talk about in the interview. Um, you want to talk about you and why you’re there in the first place. So try to put all of that aside as best as possible, anything private that you wouldn’t share outside of your personal network of confidance caregivers.
I would not recommend that you share any, anything private, um, with someone that you’re interviewing, again, we’re looking more for fit. Um, is this a place that you can thrive? Um, it’s not a deep dive into all the different aspects of your application. Um, so much. At this point, it’s more of a [00:32:00] general perspective.
Um, when you think about personal needs that you might have, that would be more private in nature. So don’t deep dive into a political conversation unless, you know, that is going to be a topic related to the interview itself. And sometimes that is, you know, depending on the program that you’re interested in.
Um, but that’s not something that I would recommend that you instantly deep dive into. Um, just because you don’t know how that’s going to come off to the person who you’re interviewing with. Um, and the purpose of the interview generally, is to have a good understanding of whether this is a good fit for you or not, not so much to share a lot of your personal and political opinions.
And anything that isn’t authentic. And what I actually really mean here is don’t worry about trying to impress them and guess [00:33:00] it impress them by kind of smoothing with them in a way guessing what they want to hear. They want to hear what makes you, you, and to help you decide if that’s a really good. Or not for a school.
Um, so you don’t have to be overly complimentary to make them feel good about themselves. They feel great just by being able to support you and their Alma mater or their employer or their school, if it’s a student. Um, so that’s what I mean here on that last bullet point is if it’s not authentic, like a sincere question, um, or something that you just, you know, want to show your excitement about, about maybe a program that the school has to offer, um, or characteristics that you really identify with.
That’s what you want to highlight, not guessing what it is that they really want to hear.
[00:34:00] Okay, so we’re going to do one more quick poll. So is there an interview offered by your college or colleges that you’re looking into applying to, or that you’ve already applied to? And if so, do you plan on attending? So, yes, and I do plan on sending guests, but I don’t plan on attending. No, they don’t offer interviews.
Not sure if I should attend or not sure if they offer any interviews. And while we wait on that, I just wanted to make a quick thing. My interview for corn. Now I have called early on Halloween. And then about mid November was when I got the call. Uh, she was a woman I think, in my area and it was just a phone call, so we didn’t even see each other.
So the whole dressing up part, I thought was funny, but for my other interviews that were like zoom calls for the most part, uh, for different scholarships and jobs that I’ve applied to, it’s been, um, over zoom having to dress up nice on top and then kind of wearing [00:35:00] pajama bottoms bottom. But, um, while we’re waiting for those to come in, do you have any like, um, what, from whoever you’ve interviewed, um, was there anything that really stood out or what would you say was like a really good interview?
Oh, that is a great question. Um, You know, people have to talk about their experiences, like I’m in an education profession. So anything I can use that might help someone else out, I tend to really get, you know, excited about that opportunity to use my experience, to share. So to be honest, one of the questions I like the best is, you know, do I, is when someone asks me, you know, what is it that I, for example, wish I had known when I was in their shoes or, you know, kind of being able to give some, you know, coaching or advice [00:36:00] along the way.
So I like that one. I like. I like when students have shown some research, you know, so not necessarily to the point that they’re repeating the marketing material ahead of me or back to me, but, you know, being able to say, like I noticed that there’s a research consortium on. Whatever it may be, you know, at that school that, that students and interest in, you know, how could I connect with somebody that, you know, could tell me more about that?
How could I begin, like immersing myself and learning more, um, from here on, in those types of questions where you really get to see their eyes light up and, you know, really take the initiative to just because they’re interested in it. Not [00:37:00] just because it’s at the school. That lights, my fire, you know, to see.
Cause that’s what makes the world go around is everyone’s different interests and talents. Um, so it’s looking like we have a clear split, um, 70% say yes, their school does offer it and they do plan on attending and the other 30% say they are not sure if their school offers. That’s interesting that, you know, again, I’d have to look a little more, the demographics of everyone, you know, who’s, who’s attending right now, but that, that many do offer the interview opportunities, you know, but again, maybe it’s because you’re here because you know, they do offer say you want the tips, but, um, that’s great.
I’m really, really hoping that some of the information here has been really helpful.[00:38:00]
Okay. How can college interviews help an application? Um, you know, I think we’ve covered this to an extent, but I like that this slide allows us to kind of tighten it back up again, um, to give some points that reiterate some points that we’ve talked about earlier. Um, I’ll go back to the, it gives you an opportunity to really demonstrate your fit and your passion for the college.
Um, you know, when a student just walks on campus or. Goes through, you know, all the research and, you know, talks with admissions officers talks with students, talk with alumni, you can tell the ones who are just crazy on fire for a school. And it’s just, it’s exciting. Once a student does find that place. Um, the interview just allows you [00:39:00] to find if that’s the place for you or not, um, and kind of build that passion or maybe not, but sometimes there can be great conversations that come out of that, that show what direction is best for that student, whether it’s a different program at that specific school or could be elsewhere.
Um, there’s always positive that comes out of that. But, you know, just being able to demonstrate the fit and the passion for what lights, your fire that helps your application. Um, it’s just the sound so cheesy, but a beautifully live version of you. Um, being able, I can tell you as an admissions officer, when you read these applications and the essays and the recommendations, you know, you look at the activities or how students spend their time and you really grow attached to some of them.
Um, you advocate for them to be [00:40:00] selected, um, to a program to be able to then meet that student in person. I don’t think the student could ever have any idea of how exciting it is for an admissions officer to, to actually have, have a one-on-one conversation. Um, but that can be really helpful. Um, and just an opportunity to elaborate or clarify on personal circumstances that might impact, you know, some of your application, whether it’s, you know, maybe you had a bit of an inconsistent performance in your GPA from year to year, and you want to talk about that because there were personal reasons that really distracted you from being able to give your all to your classes, um, or interests that you have that you weren’t able to talk about as extensively as you like to in the app, because, you know, they didn’t have as many essays that [00:41:00] you could contribute, you know, an offer that.
So it can be so many different reasons, but I think the best advice I can give you is thinking about how that you can leverage that interview opportunity, what you. The college representative to take away from that about you
can college interviews heard an application, generally, I’m going to say no, unless something occurred that you had control over and were more careless about. Um, I think it’s important to remember that, uh, schools giving their time, you know, to be with you and they want to be there, but they want you to demonstrate that you want to be there as much as they are.
Um, so. Where it could go wrong is [00:42:00] simply if you didn’t prepare for the opportunity, um, weren’t able to really engage and have a conversation because you weren’t prepared. Um, and you just didn’t make an effort to present the best version of yourself. If that’s the case, you know, the work could get back to the admissions committee.
And, you know, if there’s a student that had an interview that day as well, that did everything right. You know, in terms of, they were, you know, really made the most of the opportunity to talk with a representative. You know, the, the tip of the hat is going to go to the student who was really, you know, took advantage of that, saw it as an opportunity.
What last advice would I give to students preparing for college interviews? Um, I’ll end up [00:43:00] with a lot of what I started with. Think of it as a conversation. You’re really getting to know each other and help to determine fit. Like, is this the place where you can really see yourself being comfortable, thriving, growing, um, that they have the resources to support you in this really unique time in your life.
It’s a really special time. Um, it’s, it’s worthy of being really excited about, um, when you get to talk with someone about that, um, this next, the second pool. Personally, I, I kind of call them my rules for life. Um, being open to the opportunity, being curious, um, and being all in, no matter what, you know, maybe you’re not a hundred percent sure that this college that you’re interviewing with is the perfect fit for you, but you’re there because you’re open to the possibility that it [00:44:00] is.
Um, you know, if you can then ask questions and be curious about why that might be a great place for you, um, that’s really going to demonstrate your ability to really thoughtfully navigate and decide on what your next steps are. And the last one just be all in, um, you know, be prepared, really think about, you know, This as an opportunity to just learn more to connect and, you know, even if it’s not ultimately the right place for you, you got to learn a lot.
You got to network a bit really. Um, so be all in and accept that and make the most of that experience. Always smile, um, breathe really important. Um, these are basic things, um, that you hopefully have heard from the time you were really [00:45:00] small. Um, but a smile on your face is going to help you relax. It’s going to draw you to the person that you’re with, um, and just take a deep breath as well.
It’s going to help calm you, um, because it can be nerve-wracking. Um, even if you’re excited in a really good way, um, it’s good to just collect yourself and these moments, the next piece, I would say, I think sometimes it’s forgotten, like be respectful. Be gracious, the respectful piece. I know you’re going to do it.
You know, that you’re going to treat someone with respect. But what I really mean by that is understanding that this person is taking time to invest in you, you know, be gracious and thank them for that opportunity. I promise you, it goes a really long way to think, you know, just take that moment to acknowledge and honor them as well.
B [00:46:00] you, um, again, when we, our admissions officers who have this amazing responsibility to help build a class, to shape a class. And what we mean by that is, you know, you have all these wonderful applicants and we it’s our job to really help determine, you know, what is the school about, what are their goals?
Will this student thrive here? Will they succeed? Or do they have, you know, what we believe will allow them to succeed? You know, when they work really hard and dedicate themselves to their goals here, It’s an amazing, you know, opportunity. And it’s an honor to be able to help support a student in making that decision and offer those opportunities to them.
Um, enjoy that process of self discovery [00:47:00] and candidness and sharing who you are so that we can help set you up for success and also the college so that you can be part of a class where you’re able to be surrounded by people that’ll support you in being your best self. Um, so enjoy it again. It’s an anxiety provoking time.
I’m never going to sugar coat that for you. Um, but it’s also a really special. Exciting time as well. So being open, you know, we talked about earlier and embracing it. Um, it’s going to be amazing six months from now. If you’re seniors, um, to see where you’re headed. Well, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be here today.
Okay. Oops. Uh, so that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides [00:48:00] from the link in the handout step, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions. You submitted in the Q and a tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up.
If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page. If you joined through the webinar landing page, you will not get all the features of big markets. So just make sure you join through your email.
And I just have one quick funny story. I actually did not answer the first, like one or two calls that the alumna as get face to me, I guess. Uh, cause I have a whole thing about not answering calls that I don’t know the number of. And then she ended up texting me and say, Hey. This is me. Oh my goodness.
And then, um, so we call, she called me back like right then when, um, she asked me like, when’s a good time. And I was like, right now, it was a good time. I know what number it was. So don’t do that. Um, just start answering calls. It’s fine. Um, that’s a [00:49:00] great tip. I’m actually very much, I do that same thing. I’m guilty of doing that exact same thing, so that isn’t good.
You know, awareness piece. The other thing I would say too, is make sure that your voicemail, um, response is professional as well, because you are a rapper, you know, that’s a first impression with somebody. So you want to make sure that it’s professional sounding. I just put up the text. Okay. So we have one student asking, hello, I have submitted my applications already today.
I had my first interview. Congrats. Um, I was scared, but hoping it went well. How should I follow up with the person? Oh my gosh. I’m so glad I meant to talk about that. So I’m so glad you asked that question. Absolutely. Without a doubt, send a thank you. I ideally, within 24 [00:50:00] hours. I love a written thank you.
But the speed that the world works in today, it really, I would actually err on the side of caution and just send it as an email. Um, so that that feedback can be passed on, um, and included in with admissions materials. Um, but you know, it doesn’t have to be as long heartfelt reiteration of everything that you talked about.
Um, but just thanking them for their time. It is an opportunity for you to, you know, follow up if you have additional questions or you want to clarify something as well. Um, but generally for a college interview, it’s, you know, thank you and reiterating something that really you know, was exciting to you and that you took away from the experience.
Uh, another student is asking, can the interview give us a higher chance of admission? [00:51:00] It can, you know, I think the question I always ask is, is this an evaluative or non-evaluative experience? And by that, what I mean is, is it required or not, but anytime that you are able to positively represent yourself and demonstrate your interest in that school is going to help you, you know, that is something that, you know, being able to participate in an interview is something we would call demonstrated interest, you know, taking advantage of an opportunity to put yourself out there, to learn more.
Um, and to also just, you know, be present with members of a college community. Um, I think, you know, that’s never gonna be a bad thing. You know, that’s, that’s not the most professional way to say that, but I mean, it’s really as simple as that, [00:52:00] making every taking advantage of every opportunity available to you, um, and really embracing that opportunity and making the most of it absolutely is worth your time.
Uh, okay. So another student is asking, do interviewers see all aspects of your application, including the essay? Can I repeat that? Is it the person who’s interviewing you? Yes. Yeah. A lot of times they don’t, you know, especially a fits and it like an alumni or a student representative who’s, you know, it’s really purely informational and to have a conversation, um, there’s a lot of private information that is in an application.
So the. That stays under lock and key from most people except the people who are evaluating the application and processing them. So, um, generally, no, but [00:53:00] it is a great question. I mean maybe sometimes if there’s something they’re looking for clarifying or something on your essay, maybe they give a quick, like tip sheet about the people they’re talking to.
You know, if there are common characteristics that they have, um, interests, activities, that sort of thing. But generally they’re not going to have a lot of information that was in your application. Uh, another student is asking this also would help with like, just understanding the process. Um, uh, should you have submitted your application before your interview, if you didn’t, can it affect you?
So like, do you submit your application and then you get the interview or does it go into any. Every, every process is different, you know, right now, you know, you use the example, I think it was with Cornell. Um, but you had someone after you sent your application and then they got called for an interview.
You know, we’re getting a ton of the students that I work [00:54:00] with at CollegeAdvisor Um, right now that’s, what’s happening, you know, they’ve applied now, they’re getting an interview, you know, part of that’s also just logistically, you know, they, they want to talk to the students that they know are going to be competitive for their class.
Not that they don’t want to talk to everybody, but just how many resources and how much time do they have. Um, so it can help to make it, it can help to be a factor in making a decision. Um, But there was a school I worked at for a while that did offer interviews and we interviewed, you know, they were informational and all throughout the year, we did it.
The only time we didn’t ironically was during application reading season because we needed to be reading the application, but anytime someone would visit, um, we we’d offer that interview opportunity. So it’s all different. I wish I could say yes, [00:55:00] this is the way it is. Um, my advice is if they offer it, take advantage of it, do it, um, because it’s an opportunity to really learn and connect.
Uh, just another quick question before we do a little add, uh, should I be concerned that I wasn’t contacted for an initial. I wouldn’t, um, again, sometimes it’s resources available. Maybe they just didn’t have anyone at that time or in your area. Um, I wouldn’t read into that too much if you’re really concerned, call the admissions office and say, you know, I’d really like to have an interview.
I haven’t received a call about having one, you know, might there be an opportunity coming up? I would say on that note that probably early decision early action. We’re probably get interviews a bit easier since it’s a smaller application pool than regular. And then like even what my friends, [00:56:00] they applied regular and they didn’t get interviews or they said they didn’t.
And then they both got in. I had an interview and I was early and I got in. So it doesn’t really make or break your application. Sometimes it’s dependent on the program too. Like even from in the same school. So I’m that? No, once we’re one-on-one with an advisor from our team of over 155 advisors, um, you can, uh, do this by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking the green chat button in the bottom right of the screen.
And, um, typing in a consultation and a consultant will get back to you to schedule an appointment with a live team member. Um, some of the great things about CollegeAdvisor, we do offer, um, interview, um, mock interviews. And we also have, um, different teams for essay editing and, um, application review teams and also our amazing advisors.
So they can really help you through these [00:57:00] processes. And again, with that interview, um, mock interview team, they can really help you get prepared for these interviews and figure out how to, um, present yourself and what to talk about and can really, um, help go to your confidence with those, um, smaller details that you may not have practice other.
And on that note, uh, based on your experience, what’s the most memorable, memorable question that an applicant asked during an interview?
I think we talked about that a little bit earlier, but let me think, um,
I’ve really liked the ones where people want to connect like and, you know, ask me what my experience was like, you know, that could help them. And so what I mean by that [00:58:00] is, you know, I love when students want feedback. So I will always remember if a student takes the time to say, you know, Do you have any advice for me, you know, or, you know, what is it, would you make the same decision again?
Like if it was related to my Alma mater, would you do it again? Um, those types of questions, even being brave enough to ask that, um, they stand out to be honest. Uh, this is a question from the pre panel. Um, so one student I’m going to combine two, but one person was asking, do I need a script and another person as what does it mean to have a one minute commercial?
And what are tips that I can use to get an interview or captivated captivated by the, just one?
The first one’s really easy. I would never go in with a [00:59:00] script. You know, again, you know, I talked a lot about being authentic, being you, having a conversation and being open to and adapting to the types of, you know, topics, you know, related to the college, learning more about it being curious. So I would go in with a list of questions that you want to have, and maybe things you want to make sure that they know about you.
But beyond that, I would definitely not go in with an actual script because it it’ll look like a skirt. Um, and it could quite, you could question the authenticity behind everything that you’re asking or sharing. Um, the one minute pitch. It’s the, tell me about yourself and it’s the quick, you know, here’s who I am, you know, for example, I’m Rachael Moore.
I’m, you know, I’ll make this up, but I’m a high school student at have feel my local school [01:00:00] district. I, you know, want to major in psychology. I swim, I play the violin. I’m involved in the high school musical and I work part-time as a lifeguard. Um, and then talking a little bit about just why I am so excited to be here, you know, thinking, you know, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
I’ve been really excited about it. That that’s generally the one minute pitch. I’ve had to do a million of those when meeting with my students and in interviews. And we had to, we kind of had in a program, I was in, we had to write out a script for it. Like we didn’t have, we had to like, remember that general idea.
So like, uh, tomorrow I have a meeting with someone and I’m going to have to go in and like, um, hi, I’m Mackenzie Maria. I’m a sophomore I at Cornell university on the human develop. Development major. And, um, [01:01:00] I’ve been working in college access and college admissions work for the past three years now. And I’m really interested in pursuing a career as a high school counselor, my driving passion being, giving more access to education and fair and equitable access to education and something along those lines.
And that is so good.
There are some things that were missed, but just having a general idea on like what your passion is or your interest, and for our high schooler, I know you might not have as much experience, but talking about some of the, like how Rachael mentioned some of the clubs you’re in some of your interests, mainly it’s going to be talking about like, oh, I want to go into such and such major.
Or if you’re undeclared, I want to explore different majors to figure out like where my interests start to build this skill or to end up here, like just having an idea. When you go to college, why do you want to go to college? Where are you going to? Yeah. [01:02:00] Um, okay. I so glad this was recorded. You should play that for yourself in preparation for your next interview.
Uh, the next question is asking how many weeks at most does it take a college to contact you for an interview? And when should I know? Uh, I will not have one. I wish I could answer that question. They’re all going to be different. So. I will say this first, go to the website to see if there’s anything that answers that question for you.
If it does not, then I would call the admissions office and ask them, um, you know, and the reason I tell you to research it for says, you know, it’s out of respect for the time. You know, you want to make sure if you get a live person on the phone that you’re really making the most of that opportunity. Um, so if it’s something that [01:03:00] you could have easily found, um, You know that that’s about respect that of their time as well.
So look it up. If you don’t see it on the website, then I would go and just call and say, I really want this opportunity. What’s the turnaround time upon request, really look like, um, you know, is there anything I could do to increase my chances of having someone to talk with? And for me, I applied on Halloween and then I, when I was checking my messages, I got the call on November 30th.
So it was about a month difference. And then two weeks after that, I got my, um, my acceptance letter. So it does vary different students get earlier. Other students get later, depending on when the alumni or other people are available for calls and how many people they’re giving calls. Um, But one general thing.
I’m seeing a lot of people asking about like how to impress or how to tell us something went [01:04:00] badly. So, no, um, especially with the smile thing that Rachael brought up and one of my better interviews, I’ve had a few interviews this past year, but for one interview where I was interviewing to become a mentor, um, the CEO of the nonprofit, um, told me afterwards that the thing that he really liked about me was I was very energetic and upbeat.
And he said that my smile was probably the. The thing. And, um, he could really tell that I was really interested in what they had to offer and what I wanted to do and what my skills were. So like really bringing that energy, especially, um, on a video call where they can see it. But even if it’s on a phone call where they can’t see, you can tell when somebody is excited to be talking with you, even through the phone, even if you can’t see their face.
So really just coming in with like energy, like if you’re applying to your dream school, you should be happy to talk about your dream school. So that was like my main note. Um, but if you have any last [01:05:00] minute tips or ideas or anything, because we are about to wrap up. Yeah, no, it’s a great question. I’m hoping if you go back for your notes today that you’ll see a lot of what just Mackenzie said, um, as well, but it’s, it’s be you, the breathe, the, you know, prepare, you know, take a walk in, what is it that you like about that school and that excites you and why it is that you want to be able to speak to that?
Um, there’s no Russ like formula as to how this works. That’s why you interview, they see are qualified by looking or application. So at this point they just want to be able to engage a little bit and. Answer questions about you and, you know, see what, what it is that makes you a perfect match to that school.
And that comes out in the [01:06:00] conversation that excitement that you. Don’t overthink it. I think that would be the number one. Maybe that is that don’t overthink it. Don’t question why they’re asking that, you know, um, just, just have the conversation and even for my more introverted folks who don’t feel like their chaotic energy, um, it, it, you still can come across as like energetic and having like a passion drive for topics.
It’s just really just like keeping up a smile. Um, even if you’re nervous, like most of the time interviews just think the nervousness is adorable. Uh, cause you’re little and you’re just here to, you know, just lean in, make the eye contact. That’s it. It’s just being present, being engaged. It’s it’s don’t overthink it.
So there is, don’t worry. If you seem a little bit more meek, just be ready to like, think about. What you want [01:07:00] to say a little bit without scripting it. So like maybe you want to bring up a certain aspect of yourself or think about why you want to go to the school before going into the interview. So like, okay, I want to do this program to do this.
I want to do that. I want to do that. Just to have an idea about what you want to talk about. Okay. And, um, that note a thank you to our panelists, Rachael, and thank you everyone for coming out tonight. I hope you really enjoy talking about, um, ACEing, uh, college interviews. Here’s the rest of our November series, where we’ll be talking about taking your application to the next level.
It is coming to a close, so we will see you more. So next month, um, when we’re talking about the final pace or getting started early, depending on where you’re at in the admissions process. And remember, you can look at our own videos. This webinar is being recorded, so you can view it later. Um, and you can also look at our blog and, um, if you have an advisor, you can use the other resources within such as the, in the mock interview team and, um, just, um, enjoy, uh, [01:08:00] your holiday and, um, we’ll see you next time.