Crushing Your College Interviews
Have you been invited to an interview with a school? Get the inside scoop on how to prepare and put your best foot forward from CollegeAdvisor.com.
Admissions expert and CollegeAdvisor Interview team member Lily Xu will share her tips and advice on how to stand out during your interview. This will be a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:
- How do I practice for an interview?
- What questions should I be prepared to answer?
- What should I do after the interview?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-12-15 – Crushing Your College Interviews
Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Webinar, Crushing Your College Interviews. To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now, let’s meet our panel.
Hi everyone. My name’s Lily. I’m really excited to talk to you today about college interviews. Just to give you a little bit of background about myself I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in the class of 2020, and I’m currently a grad student at Stanford University. And here at CollegeAdvisor, I’m also on the CollegeAdvisor interview team which is a special group where we’re gonna prepare you for interviews within two sessions.
One is the strategy session. The second one, which is a mock interview. So I’m here to share my tips and tricks about college interviews. Okay. So before we hear the tips and tricks about college interviews, we’re first gonna get a sense of what grade everyone is in. So let us know. So Lily, tell us a little bit about grad school.
What are you studying at Stanford? Yeah. I’m currently doing a PhD in microbiology and immunology. So more on the STEM side, more on the wet lab research side of. That’s really cool. That is really great. Okay, so let’s see. The responses are now coming in. So we have about 72% of our audience is in the 11th grade, followed by that 22%, 10th grade, 5%, 12th grade, and 5% other.
So I’ll turn it over to you now to kick off the present. Yeah. Thanks so much. So just starting things off just the basics about college interviews. A lot of people will typically ask, you know, what is the purpose of an interview? And then is it something that is going to hurt your application or help your application?
First off. A lot of times colleges want to know more about you, so maybe they’ve seen their application or maybe they’re interviewing you before that application actually comes in. They really wanna be able to see more of your personality and really put a picture to that application that’s gonna come through later.
And so, beyond your stats and beyond your essays, they also just wanna see what kind of person you like and also would you be a good fit for their school. On the other side of things, you know, it’s, it’s not just the one way street. For your interview itself. You can also learn more about the college that you’re interested in.
And so a lot of times for your interview, you’ll be interviewed most commonly by an alumni. And that’s gonna be a great way for you to learn more about that school because you’ll be able to talk to someone who went to that college and really get their first team experiences. And so you can think of college interviews.
A big portion of them learning more about you. But a lot of times in the end of the interview they’ll ask you to, you know, what questions you might have, and that’s a great time for you to ask questions to the college. Going off of that so a lot of, some colleges will attract demonstrated interests.
It sort of just depends from college to college, and that’s something that you can figure out by Googling, you know, the college thing and the words demonstrated interest to see, you know, how much your college interview might play a factor. But a lot of the times your college interview is, could potentially strengthen or enhance your application.
And so you really want to, I guess, try to have an interview that would perhaps compliment your application. So if there are any topics that you’re really passionate about, maybe that’s gonna be something that you’re majoring in, or it’s gonna be an extracurricular that you’re part of. You can also show those same passions in your interview itself.
people always ask, can you know an interview actually hurt your application? A lot of times, you know, you can’t do anything, you know, too bad in your, in your interview itself. But if you do have any red flags, like if you have activities that aren’t really lining up timeline-wise or that don’t really match what you put in your application, or if you, you know, maybe don’t have the most interest in the school, you don’t really have a positive energy when it comes to, you know, your interest in that school itself.
Those could be something, things that could hinder your application. But one thing to keep in mind is that when you’re doing your college interview, a lot of the times the interviewer is on your side. So they aren’t gonna be looking for, you know, places to pick apart your application or pick apart your story.
They really wanna hear your story, get to know you, and then try to highlight those best aspects and show those to the college itself. So with that before you go into the college interview, what are some of the things that you should first prepare? I would always start off with just whatever the school has on their website.
And so if you have a school that you’re interviewing for type into Google, you know, that school’s name, and then add the words interview. And then a lot of the times that school will have a specific page just for interviewing. And that will already have a lot of tips and. , sometimes they’ll have practice questions even on that page, and those are definitely questions you could consider when practicing.
And I’ll also have a bunch of other questions in, in later in the slides as well. . Other places I would check are just any online forums. Every single year people will post, you know, Hey, have you gotten an interview for this school? And then people who have had those interviews will usually give a quick recap.
But a lot of times if you look over, you know, forum pages I would always take, you know, those answers to the grain of salt because those are really specific stories of how their interviews actually went. And then also with those different forums, you’ll also see that a lot of times people will get really similar questions over time.
And so there’s gonna be a set of really generalized questions that you could really use for practicing across not just one school, but, but across many different schools. and then also in during that school research. I would just check whether or not that school typically wants you to provide a resume or not.
It seems like right now for a lot of schools, you usually don’t need to bring a resume to your interview, but it’s always something that you can ask and offer your interviewer if you have enough time in between when you first get in contact with them and when you have your first interview. And then after that things that you should prepare on your own side.
So maybe in your application itself you’ve written a why school essay or written essay explaining why you wanna go to that school. I would definitely review that essay before you actually go into the interview. And the reason for that is just to spark your memory on why you’re interested in that school and how you can convey that enthusiasm, passion in your interview.
So in that case, you know, even if you didn’t write a why school essay, you can also do a little bit of research on the school and figure out why exactly you wanna apply. Cuz a really common question, college interviews is why do you wanna apply to this school? And so in doing that research, so there’s some areas that I would do a quick look at.
One, you know, make sure, you know at least. You know, if you know what you wanna major in, what that major is called at the school, since every school might have a different name for it in, in a slightly different program. And it’s just a set of curriculum for it. And then also I would look at I guess if you don’t know what you wanna major in, what potential things you could be interested in studying.
And so when it comes to, you know, looking at your major or what kind of classes you might be interested in, you don’t have to be super specific when doing that research. So you don’t have to memorize a course number or an exact course title. But maybe if you know you wanna take some kind of philosophy.
Or you wanna take some kind of ceramics course. That’s sort of the level of detail that you can go into, and I would just check that those kinds of classes are actually offered at the school that you’re interested in. . Along with that, I would look at what kind of activities you might be interested in joining.
Again, this doesn’t have to be super specific, this could be more general, like, see, if you’re currently running track in high school, maybe you wanna join the running club at that college. Again, you just wanna check that the clubs that you’re really interested in are clubs that do exist at the school.
And the last thing that I would look at is, based on what you wanna you know, pursue as, as a career in the future. Maybe see what kind of things students from that college do over the summer. So do they typically do internships? Do they do research? Do they work in a company? What kind of opportunities are available?
And then from there, what kind of opportunities are you interested in? All of this information, you know, it may or may not come up in your interview itself, but having this preparation will really help you answer why you’re interested in that in that school. And it’ll also show that you’ve put in the time and done the research when you’ve been looking at the school to show that you have an interest.
Lastly, last thing to prepare. I would say when you get in contact with your interviewer I would just do a really brief, you know, look at their background, but you don’t have to go super in depth. I would most mostly pay attention to what they majored in and also when they graduated for the major, you can use that to see, you know, are they majoring in something really similar to you or is it something really different just to see if you.
Specific questions about that major. And then also for grad year, I would just see how recently they graduated. If you have someone who graduated maybe 20 years ago, they probably won’t remember as much about their college experience as opposed to someone who graduated last year. And so that can help you curate what kind of questions you wanna ask.
So maybe for a more recent graduate, you could ask them what their favorite place to study was on campus, but maybe for an older graduate you could ask them what kind of, you know, school traditions. They still really.
Okay. This is, this is some really good information, Lee, that you’re sharing with our audience. We wanna do another poll, so let us know. Have you ever completed an interview before?
For those who have, I’m sure some of this information is like, oh, yes, that makes sense. That sounds great. Okay, so this is good. So we have about 71% of our audience has not completed an interview, and then about 30% has. So I’ll turn it back over to you, Lily. Yeah. So for those of you who haven’t done an interview before, don’t worry.
You know, this, this webinar will help you get prepared. And there’s a lot of preparation you can also do afterwards just to do some practice whether it’s with our CollegeAdvisor team or if it’s, you know, something you wanna do on your own or with some friends or family. From here I wanted to just go into what are just some common interview questions.
And so I would say I have two slides of more of the general questions and things that I would say are very fair game for, for almost any college interview that you, that you are doing. Starting off with, you know, general interviews, a lot of times one of the first questions you get is tell me about yourself.
And that question is one that, you know, students maybe want to practice a few more times and before they actually go into interview the. I would say for this question, some of the key points I would hit are, you know, your name, what you know, where you’re from and then afterwards if you know what you wanna major in, that’s a great place to put that in.
And then afterwards I would just list a few things that you’re involved in. You don’t have to list all of your extracurriculars, but I would say maybe anywhere from two to four clubs that you’re really involved in. And then if you have more, you can always say that, you know, I’m also involved in other things that, just to let them know that you, they can ask you about that.
So tell me about yourself. Introduction is really important because pretty much anything that you say in the introduction is something that the interviewer could ask you a follow up question about later. And so you really, really wanna make sure it, you gives them enough talking points to go off of afterwards.
But also is able to sort of encapsulate, like, what, what are some of the the key things that you wanna highlight about yourself? after that, I have a bunch of questions that are more just about you. So these are actually questions that you should be able to answer even without any preparation. A lot of these questions are more just asking, you know, what is your school environment like?
What is your home environment life like? And just what kind of things do you, do you like to do for fun? Also, what kind of things do you like to do academically? And so feel free to download the slides and, and take a closer look at some of these questions. And, and these are some of the more general questions that you’ll see in a lot of I.
After this I can hit the next slide. After that, there’s also a bunch of common interviews that are more focused on the college itself and what kind of, you know, interests you have in that school and what kind of research you’ve done. And so these are just also a, a more general list of questions and you should be able to answer.
One of the big ones in this list is why you’re interested in going to this college. And then also sort of on the flip side of, why should that college then pick you or why are they gonna be a good fit for you? And so I would be, I would try to be able to answer both kinds of questions for the why, you know, why college question.
Some typical answers can be more about academics. They can be more more about the community. They can be more about preparing for your career. They could even be, you know, about all of those. And so for each school when you’re doing your preparation, I’d really see like what kinds of things about that college are standing out to you, and then see if you can organize those ideas in a more cohesive way to to produce an answer.
Along with that one really important question that you’ll always get at your interview is usually towards the end of the interview when they’re done asking you questions, they’ll also flip things over, back to you and the interview will ask you what questions you might have for them, either about their college experience or about the college itself.
for this, I would think of, you know, two to three questions, sort of depending on how much time you think you might have left. And for these kinds of questions, again, I would base them more off of what you know about the interviewer. And so usually towards the start of your interview, the interview will also give you a quick introduction about them and you can also ask questions about them.
You know, how their career is right now, how their college impacted their career. And for these kinds of questions, I would try to ask them things that you think they’ll be able to answer, but then also things that you’re genuinely interested in hearing the answers about. So maybe if you know you have a common major or say you, you want to pursue STEM and your interviewers used to be a STEM major, you would always ask them a question that’s more along the lines of, oh, like.
Did you talk to other people who were in other majors around you when you were at that college? But maybe a question that would be too specific would be, you know, I saw through this course number, it’s only offered in the spring. Like, did you feel like that was difficult because they might not remember more of the specifics when it came to their college experience?
Along with that, I have a list of slightly more challenging interview questions. These are more questions where maybe if you haven’t, you know, prepared for these questions, you haven’t heard of these questions before, it might take a little bit more time to think of the answer. , it’s totally okay to take some time with your, with your interview questions, and also just let the interviewer know if you are, you know, facing a more difficult question.
And so I would also, you know, definitely go through this list and just see what are your first, your immediate responses to these kinds of questions. And then if you need more time take some time to brainstorm how you would answer those just to practice answering these more challenging question.
For these questions, I’m in the interview. If you do have a you know, a time where you just feel like you cannot think of an answer what you can always do is think back to what topics, you know, you can talk really well about. So maybe those are topics that are related to what you wanna major in or topics related to any of your extracurriculars.
See if you can maybe connect and answer to that activity in order to answer this.
So from there that, that segues me segues me right into the more, you know, difficult topics or questions the question itself. And so for the first point that I have if you have a question that is maybe pointing more towards a negative, so I have some examples listed here. The best way to answer these questions is, you know, first off, answer the question but then see if you can turn that answer into something that’s more of a positive.
So for the, what’s your weakness question, you can talk about how you know, you have a weakness, but it’s something that you’re still working on. Or for the class that you dislike. Maybe you’ll talk about, you know, what aspects you don’t dislike, but then you’ll explain that you find this class still very valuable and you’re working really hard at it.
You can do similar things for the challenge and the failure question. These are some common questions that you might get in your interview but you don’t wanna, you know, just end your answer on a negative note. So if you get the question, tell me about about a failure. You don’t wanna just say, oh, I failed and it was terrible.
You really wanna elaborate from there and then explain maybe what you learned from the experience and how you’ve grown since then and how you’ve been able to apply those lessons in the. Along with that like I said earlier, it’s totally okay if you, if you blank on an answer. I would say even for me, like for any interviews that I do now there’s always, you know, one question that always stumps me, and I feel like that’s something that is actually really common in college interviews.
So you won’t be able to anticipate every single question that you have. But I think practicing with different, no harder questions can definitely help you. Just figure out how to think on your feet and craft those answers when you don’t have an answer that comes to you immediately. For the first point that I have it’s totally, if you say, oh, that’s a difficult question can have a minute to think about it, and then you can take a little bit of time while you formulate your answer and think about what topics you can talk about.
And then for me, like, I feel like if you totally blank some advice that I heard was if you’re told to talk about a tree but you don’t know anything about it tie a cow to the tree and describe the cow. And so if you feel like you aren’t able to give an answer about swimming, but you might be able to talk about a related topic as you know, your, your backup, you can always try to talk about a different topic and then connect it back to that answer.
And so going back to some of the questions that we had earlier a lot of the questions that are about you, you should be able to answer pretty easily. And so if you feel like you have a difficult question, maybe see if you can talk more about yourself in order to get to that answer. And, and really connect things together even if you don’t know how exactly to start your answer at the beginning.
Along with that so that was a little bit about, you know, what happens during the interview itself. But after the interview I think what’s really important is to send a quick thank you to your interviewer. This email does not have to be super elaborate. I put an example down below of literally just, you know, three quick sentences just to summarize how you enjoyed the interview and then a few quick talking points.
The purpose of this is more just to show them you. You know, when one, you wanted to thank your interviewer for taking the time. And then two, it can just be a nice cherry on top just to show the interviewer your gratitude and, and that you really enjoyed talking about the school. For some schools that do track demonstrated interest, sometimes your interviewer will send this over to the mission’s office and we’ll just put a quick note in your file that you sent the thank you.
It’s not gonna make or break your application, but it can be sort of a nice touch after your interview itself.
Yeah. So with that, I just have a few more pieces of tips and advice. I know right now they’re doing a mix of in-person interviews and virtual interviews. I would say for in-person interviews, especially ones where you’re interviewing at that college campus, I would arrive extremely early just because it can be really hard to find the physical locations.
And sometimes you can make a wrong turn and end up somewhere else and then not know where your interview location is. For virtual interviews, it’s sort of almost the opposite. Arrive exactly on time or just a minute early cuz you don’t wanna be stuck in, in a Zoom reading room or, you know, be on a call and then have the interview already there but not expect you.
So for those I would, I would actually be really on time instead of early. And then for my second bullet point here one thing that’s important to note is, you know, for in-person interviews, like the moment you step onto a college campus or for virtual interviews, the moment you, you click the link to, to your interview room your interview has begun.
And so you don’t always, you know, just join the interview and have some ask you tell me about yourself, a lot of the times your interviewer will sort of ease you into the interview itself. So for in-person interviews, maybe they’ll ask you more about, you know, how you got to the school. You know, if you took a flight, if you took a train, if you drove here maybe for your virtual interviews they’ll ask you how your week of school has been or if you’re doing anything for the holidays coming up.
Just keep in mind that, you know, those questions are, are really lighthearted and easy. They probably aren’t gonna show up in any interview write up afterwards, but they can really be a nice way to set the tone for the interview itself. And so I would just be prepared for any of these, you know, sort of small questions that aren’t really gonna be part of your application later on but can sort of set the tone for your interview itself.
Along with that I just have a few notes. I feel like it, it’s really important for students to smile when they’re giving their answers. For me as an interviewer, that’s something that I always look for look for when I watch students, they give their answers. Cuz for me, when I see that if students really smiling when they give the answer, it’s a good sign to me that they genuinely enjoy that activity.
And also you know, that . Yeah. That, that they, that they really enjoy it, and then that it’s a, it’s a good topic that I can ask more follow up questions about as well. And then lastly, you know, I know college interviews can be something that feels really stressful, especially for, you know, your dream score or any of your top schools.
But also think of your interview as, you know, something that’s gonna be a really big positive. A lot of times your interviewer is gonna be on your side, and so they wanna show you know, your personality in, in its best light. And so they aren’t looking for, you know, ways to trick you. They really want to try to enhance your application and strengthen as much as they can through the interview process.
Okay. Thank you Lilly. That now concludes the presentation portion of our webinar. We’re now gonna move into the live Q&A. So I am gonna read your questions out loud. I’ll put I’ll paste them into the public chat so that you can read them and then Lilly’s gonna answer the question accordingly. So please begin to, input your questions into the Q&A tab.
Okay. Our first question reads why do some schools do interviews? Is it only for schools with low acceptance rate? Yeah. So going off of that first question it really depends on the school itself. Some schools will be tracking demonstrated interests, so they use it as a metric of how interested students might be, but also for some schools, they just wanna get to know your application more.
Each school sort of has a different criteria for why they wanna select interviewees. Some schools will actually just do it randomly based, you know how many alumni interviewers are in your area. And some schools will do an initial read through of your application and then they’ll send out those interview invites.
That’s usually information that you can find online. If you Google, you know, how important the interview is, what the selection criteria is. But I would say for a lot of schools, it’s gonna be more on the random side where if someone is available for an interview or if you sign up for an interview on their website, you can usually try to get one.
For the second part of the question, is it just for really selective schools? No. A lot of, a lot of schools, as long as they have the capacity to do interviews, they, they might try to. And so selectivity I don’t think matters too much. When it comes to the interview process itself it just sometimes seems that maybe larger schools or schools that have a larger alumni network, they might be able to offer more.
Okay, so our next question, do college interviews not happen as much as they used to? It is every applicant interviewed. Yeah. So going off that question, so I feel like college interviews still happen pretty frequently. It might just depend on what, you know, month you are in the cycle. I know in, you know, when the application season first starts, schools don’t even know if you’re gonna apply yet, so you don’t have a ton of interviews coming in yet.
But then a lot of times after the first week, the application goes in, starting in around November and then getting into December and January, you start seeing a lot of different interview invites. And that’s just, you know, when, when schools know that you’re going to apply or they get your initial application.
And so interviews will sort of come out in waves. And so maybe you haven’t heard of people, you know, talk about interviews yet, just because they haven’t been released yet for this cycle, for some schools. Also a lot of interviews do happen in the spring, so this is gonna be when a lot of your regular decision applications are already submitted, and then schools are then trying to decide who they wanna accept.
And so in that case, sometimes an interview can be really helpful to them just to put a name to your application, or, sorry, put a face to your application and really get to know you a little bit more and see if maybe you’re the person that they wanna accept. . So yeah, I would say application interview, interview frequency, I think has been pretty similar from, you know, across the years.
If anything with COVID, like with virtual interviewing, they might have been able to increase their capacity for the number of interviews. But I would say how many interviews you get really depends on, on what month you are in the cycle. Thank you for clarifying that point. What are some things you should never do in an interview?
Yeah. I would say one thing that sometimes happens in interviews if you talk about a different college than the one you’re interviewing for I know sometimes, you know, with Zoom and also with traveling for interviews, if you have a lot of them, you might mix up the schools, if you end up, you know, saying, you know, if you’re at a Wash U interview and you mentioned U Chicago, you say, oh, I really wanna go to U Chicago, because it’s, it’s gonna be noted down in your interview.
So definitely, you know, do your research about the school, but also make sure that you’re talking about the right school in your interview itself. Okay. So if the interview is not going well, how do you. Yeah. I guess for this maybe figure out, I mean, your practice runs maybe why the interview isn’t going as well.
Is it more because of the topic that you’ve been given? Do you maybe need to talk about a different story or, you know, do you feel like you don’t have enough content when it comes to your interview itself? I think for this, maybe see what kind of tips you have to make your interviews go well.
So if this is gonna be talking about answers that you’re really passionate about, maybe see if you can pivot the conversation to touch upon those topics. . And then I feel like a lot of times, like sometimes you might feel like your interview doesn’t go well if you aren’t connecting with the interview as much.
For this I would try actually just linking your answers and see if maybe you can elaborate more and then give the interviewer some more content to, to ask a follow up question about, and that can also help create more of an engaging interview. And so maybe see if you can add a little bit more content that they can ask more questions about.
And then see if you can try to find the right topics that you know, you can talk really freely. This next question reads I’m a shy student, so do you have any tips? Yeah. So I know for me on the interviewer side, we actually used to get a question that we would use for students who maybe weren’t as talkative.
And this question was, you know, what’s a topic you could talk about endlessly and. Maybe ask yourself that question and see what topic that would be. And then practice with that topic about how you would talk about it, and then see if you can apply that same energy to some of your other talking points.
So maybe you’ll apply that same energy to any other passions you have academically or to any of your extracurriculars when talking about that. From there, see if you can open up in your answers and, and also elaborate on your answers when when answering in the interview itself. But maybe think back to that question how you would answer.
And then go from there and try to apply that same energy. I know it can be hard to, you know, open up to a stranger during your college interview, especially if it feels stressful. But I think also just remember that the interviewer is gonna be on your side and they really wanna hear more about you and your application.
So wherever you can try to give them a little bit more information, you know, tell stories, tell them more about what, what makes you so excited. Okay, our next question, how do you recover from what you know? Sorry, the question moved. How do you recover from what you know? Delivered is a bad answer, but the rest of it’s fine.
I think in this case, just keep going, you know, hope that you have, you know, other good answers going through, I know I, I’ve definitely had, you know, my own share of interview questions where I’ve stumbled on an answer. Just try to keep going and, and, and try to elaborate in other answers and, and try.
you know, other answers that are gonna be a lot better. Yes. Okay. So we’re gonna take a, just a short pause for me to share with you all about our essay. Our new essay editing only packages that we offer within CollegeAdvisor. So this is a great opportunity to take advantage of this. If you may be a student who is currently working on supplemental essays, working on a common app, you’re just writing the point where you’re getting ready to submit your application, but you.
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Our next question reads, huh? Let’s see, is there a sweet spot for the amount of time? An answer to an interview question should be, this is a good one. Yeah. So for this, I don’t think, I guess like answer length, this something you can necessarily count in minutes. Cause it also sort of depends on how fast you talk.
Mm-hmm. . But I would say when answering a question, see if you can answer with a story. And then I would say, try to give no more than two examples or two. For example, if someone tells you, you know, tell me about a time that you faced a challenge maybe you’ll probably have, you know, one longer story to explain the situation, you know, the challenge that you faced, and also to turn it back into a positive, how you grew from that challenge.
Sometimes for some shorter questions, maybe they’ll. Have a question about, you know, tell me how you’ve shown leadership. Maybe for that, if you have two examples that you might wanna give, you could give two shorter answers. But if you end up doing three examples, I think your answer will be a little bit too on the long side.
Okay. The next question reads, is there a way I can find out if a school offers interviews, like on the website or so? Yeah. So for this I would actually just Google, you know, the school name and then interview. A lot of the times the colleges will have their own page for interviews, or they’ll say explicitly whether or not they do have those interviews themselves and how that process goes.
For some schools they’ll just let you schedule the, the interview on their website itself. For some other schools, you know, they’ll send you an email if they have an alumni who’s gonna contact you and conduct the interview. And then you can decide whether or not you wanna do the interview. And, you should, you should say yes to the interview and take it if they offer you one.
And then for some reason, if you can’t find that information on the website itself I would just check some forums and just see from Google, like if other people are also getting interviews from that school. But for the most part, you can usually find that information on the school website itself.
Okay. Our interviews for all applicants are only a few. Yeah. So a lot of the times interviews are gonna be like, not for all applicants but I guess the percentage of applicants that end up getting interviews really differs from school to school. A lot of the times, this actually depends on just the capacity that the school has to interview everyone.
And so some schools, if they have really large alumni networks, they’ll be able to do more interviews. But I would say it’s totally common if. you based on the number of people in your high school class. If one person gets to interview, the other person doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
It could just be, you know, in the random pool for your region. These are just the number of interviewers that were available. And then, you know, the rest are just, these are the students who ended up getting selected. So I think there are some schools where they do interview a large majority of people.
And for those schools you can usually find there’s percentages on their websites and like they sort of explain what percentage of students do get those interviews. But it’s a little bit harder to find that information online just because usually it’s gonna be a smaller percentage of applicants.
Okay. So this question reads what is the best way to. Yeah. So for practicing, I feel like a lot of students have a lot of different strategies they like to, to use. Some students, you know, they’ll go through their practice questions like the ones they had in the slides, and they’ll just write out their answers to everything.
That’s, I would say, a longer approach to practicing. Some students will just read through the questions and see you know, oh, do I feel like you have an answer to that? , maybe they’ll go back to that question, practice it once, maybe in front of a mirror. And then I would say the most common way to practice is gonna just be doing a mock interview.
And so for this, you can ask a friend or a family member, even a teacher if you know, they’d be able to help you with a mock interview and then ask a few ask you a few questions and then take some notes on how you answered them, and then do a feedback around to see what kind of things you did really well, what kind of things you can.
And so all of these sort of have different levels of, you know, other people helping you in the process. But I would say if, if it’s just you, see, if you can either practice with yourself, either by writing the answers, shouting down some notes about the answers, or just rehearsing some answers in from mirror.
And if you’re able to recruit someone else to help I would definitely recommend doing a mock interview. Yeah. And I’ll also add very similar to just like looking at yourself in the mirror, perhaps you also like record yourself, you know, on your cell phone. Or if you have a camera on your computer, maybe you go into a zoom room and then record yourself as if you’re answering the questions to the interviewer.
Kind of helps you kind of get out the nerves when you’re kind of talking to yourself too. . Okay, so next question reads. Should I use these tips if it’s for a college coach interview? Yeah. I guess what do you, what do you mean by a college coach interview? Or, I guess, Lana, do you have any idea of the details for this?
I do not have, I would assume maybe it’s a student who maybe has to be interviewed by a coach because it’s got it maybe for athletic recruiting. Mm-hmm. Yeah, I would say you can definitely use these same tips. But what I would also do is add a few questions that are more specific to recruiting.
You know, this the set of questions is more for general college interviews, but there should be a bunch of other questions online as well that are more specific to sports. I would say a few recycle some of the questions that we had in the slides, and I would definitely focus more on the ones.
Extracurriculars about, you know, athletics and also about leadership especially if those are things that you wanna highlight in your interview process. So I would basically look for more more specific interview questions and then combine them with the, the interview tips and questions that we had in this webinar.
Great. Let’s see. If you do an interview, does that mean you are guaranteed an accept. Yeah. So I would say it does not mean that you’re guaranteed acceptance sadly. But it does mean that they are looking at your application and, and definitely considering you. I would say, you know, it is really hard to tell if an interview will even lead to an acceptance just because with the holistic application process, they’re also gonna be looking at the rest of your application itself.
So I would say your interview in the end, it probably isn’t going to make or break you. But you definitely want it to be something that is gonna strengthen your application and enhance it so that you have, you know, your hopefully stellar application and then also a really good interview to combine with it.
Okay. Is the interview with college, is it with a college counselor who all is on the panel? I think you spoke a little bit about this earlier in your presentation. Who typically does the I. Yeah. So this depends from school to school. You could get a variety of, you know a lot. I feel like most commonly people will get alumni interviewers, but you could also get current students who are interviewing you if it’s virtual or on that campus.
If you’re on the campus, you also might get interviewed by admissions officer. You might be interviewed by a dean. It’s usually just gonna be someone who is related to the university in some way. Usually if they reach out to you virtually, they’ll probably tell you a little bit more about them and what their connection is to the school.
But I would say for most interviews you can usually prepare for an alumni interviewer.
Okay, let’s move to the next question. Push that one.
Okay. This kind of goes, we kind of talked about this a little bit, but how can you train your mind to not be nervous during this nerve-wracking process? Because yes, interviews bring a lot of emotions for sure. Yeah. So for this, I think a few things. One practice, but don’t over practice. So I think practice, you know, talking about yourself, practice in public speaking, if you can just practice, you know, talking more about you and your activities and what you’re passionate.
About, but don’t do it to the point where it sounds like your answers are completely rehearsed. Cause if, if it sounds like you just, you know, you’ve written a script for your interview and you go through that, they’ll definitely be able to tell. So you wanna see if you can practice, but still sound like you’re speaking freely.
I think after that, take a deep breath before you know, you go into your interview. I know it’s, it’s totally fine to feel nervous. risk before, like, you know, even when I have my own interviews now for other things. So it’s something that, you know, you just need to think of in a positive light. For me, going in, I also think about, you know, what can, what are some of the positives, some of the interview itself.
So beyond being nerve wracking you know, what can I learn about the school when it comes to college interview? Or also what could I gain from fulfilling the interview process? And so that’s something you can also think of just to make it a little bit less nerve wracking. I think for me the last part is just remembering that the, the person interviewing you on the other side, they’re on your team.
And I think that’s something that always helps me feel a little bit better. And then I think once you start the interview itself a lot of times interviewers will try to make the interview a conversation. So it’s not gonna be an interrogation, it’s not gonna be them just, you know, rapid fire an asking questions about your high school experience.
a lot of the times they wanna hear more about you and you know, what you’ve accomplished in high school. What are some of the really cool things that you’ve done and what are you interested in? And then just knowing that, you know, they really have an interest in you and your application that can help use nerves a lot.
Great, great. Okay. This question comes from our pre-pa, I mean our pre during registration that is. And so at Res, do colleges look at your social media posts in assessing your application, and could they ask you questions about that during the interview? Yeah, so I would say for colleges, for some schools, yes, they do look at your social media codes.
I would definitely make sure that anything that you make public is something that you would be okay with the colleges that you’re applying to seeing. For college interviews itself, it’s a little bit different. For interviews a lot of the times. So you can actually look up if the interview’s gonna be an open book or a closed book interview.
And so a closed book interview is, is more common and it’s where really all the interviewer gets is your name and probably your high school, and then your email address if they’re the ones reaching out to you. And so in that case, it’s really just up to, you know, whether or not the interviewer does a quick Google search review before they go in.
I would say a lot of times for those interviewers, they sort of just go in without doing a ton of research about you. Cause they just wanna see more of what you’re. For open book interviews, maybe this could be if you’re interviewed by an admissions officer or a dean who’s taking a, a much closer look at your application.
In that case, they will have seen your application materials and they’ll probably have, you know, just tried to find out more information about you in advance. . I would say for the second part of the question, you know, could they ask you a question about your social media? I’d say this is probably gonna be more uncommon unless it’s, you know, unless social media is a huge part of your application.
So say if you’re a YouTuber and that’s one of your main extracurriculars, and maybe if it’s an open book application, maybe you could get a question about that. But I would say a lot of the times you’re interviewers, if they’re just standard alumni interviewers who haven’t seen the rest of your application, they probably won’t do a lot of Digg.
So that being said, I would definitely curate your social media to be sort of college admissions safe.
Okay. How do I address. Yeah, this is a great question, especially since in-person interviews are coming back. For this first I would check the school website and usually they’ll give you some guidelines on what to wear. If say there are no guidelines whatsoever, I would go for more business casual.
And what this means is, Similar to like what you would wear to a school that had a dress code. So for your top, you can wear, you know, a plain shirt, a blouse, something that doesn’t have logos, and something that isn’t super distracting. You want the focus and the of the interview to be on you, not on you know, what you’re wearing.
And then I guess for the bottom half, I guess people always, you know, ask know, can I wear jeans? I feel like if you can see, if you have maybe a nicer set of pants, maybe some khakis or maybe not to the point of dress pants, but I guess something that’s a little bit more formal than, you know, like ripped jeans.
They will be something that you feel like you could maybe, you know wear at maybe like a, a casual work event. And then. based on what the school says itself, A lot of times, like schools will just say, this is not a formal interview. Like, you don’t have to dress up for that. But if it says that, definitely don’t, you know, wear like a suit and tie to, to your interview itself.
When they say it’s a casual kind of interview definitely just dress ’em on the casual side. So for this, you can, you can look up what business casual is and then see how you wanna address from there. Okay. So I wanted to clarify what do you mean by open book Application? Yeah. So for open book application this is like when the college or the person who’s interviewing you has seen all of your application materials in advance.
In that case, they’ll be able to ask you more about your essays or more about your activities list. Just anything that you’ve put in your application itself. Usually you can like Google for each school. Say if you have an interview, you’ll Google College name, you know, interview. And then you’ll say, have they seen my application or have they read my essays?
And you can usually find that information either on the school website if they have it or from a forum. But a lot of the times if you can’t figure that out from the school website you can also see from past interviews they can usually, like interviewers can sort of tell. You know, they’re hearing about certain activities for the first time or if their interviewer’s already gone through their essays and, and their whole application.
Okay. Next question is, how should I reply when they ask me about my future plans? And I do not know. Yeah, I would say it’s totally fine, you know, if you don’t know. But then as always, you know, try to turn any negatives into a positive. So talk about what things that you are interested in exploring.
And so maybe if you don’t know what you wanna major in, you can still talk about any kinds of topics that you really enjoy now in school. Maybe ones that you wanna study at that college. Or maybe if you’re still, you know, unsure about what you wanna do career-wise, you can talk about a different a few different options that you’re really interested in exploring.
You know, bonus points of these are things that you can, you can pursue at the school itself. And so I would say it’s totally okay if you don’t know, cuz college is gonna be a place where you can explore those options. And so instead I would talk more about your enthusiasm in exploring different areas and then tie that into how you can do that exploration at the college that you’re interviewing.
Okay, we’re actually, we we’re still have more time for some additional questions and answers. I’m gonna share, share a little bit more about CollegeAdvisors. So for those who in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admission process can be, especially for competitive applicants like, Our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions.
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After scanning a QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member from our team. Okay, so we will take a few more questions. So someone wanted to know, can I use these tips for job interviews or would they be a little. Yeah, I would say there’s a lot of overlap between college interviews and job interviews.
But at first for job interviews, you’ll have sort of another specific set of questions. A lot of the overlapping questions are gonna be more general, so the ones that aren’t as college specific, so, tell me about a time that you failed or faced a challenge. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Those kinds of questions. You can definitely prepare for a job interview, but then for your job interview, they’ll probably also ask you more about your skillsets, cuz you’re gonna be interviewing for a specific job. And so for that you will maybe talk more about some of the technical aspects of things that you’ve done in the past and what skills you might bring to that job or that company.
And so you can also look up a, a more specific list of more jobs or company specific questions and then combine those with these sample questions. When you’re preparing how long is a typical interview? So this also varies from school to school. I would say interviewers on the shorter side are maybe gonna be around 20 minutes or so interviews on the longer side.
They could be, you know, an hour and sometimes they might run a little bit over to 90 minutes or so. I would say that 20 minute to 90 minute range is probably gonna be your sweet swap spot for most interviews. This is all information that you can find on the school. Especially for virtual interviews, usually they’ll give you a specific time box.
You can see how long your interview’s supposed to run. And then for in-person interviews, it’s a little bit harder to tell. . If you can’t find information on a website, see if you can go on a forum and see how long other people’s interviews have lasted. I would say a lot of the times I would say like 30 or 40 minute interviews are pretty common.
And then sometimes your interviews will run a little bit over. That can be a good sign if you know your interviews going long, your interview just wants to talk more. But it also, if your interview acts, you know exactly on time or even a little bit early, that’s totally okay. It doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong.
So if it just means that your interviewer has somewhere else to be afterwards and they have to, you know, end exactly on. Is your interview saved/recorded? Yeah, so I don’t think your interview is recorded. I, I come from the era where all interviews used to be in person before covid, so those definitely weren’t recorded.
In terms of interviews being saved if your school, you know, does track demonstrated interest or, you know, does factor in the interview as part of your, your applicant profile, in the end a lot of the time your interviewer will take a few notes afterwards and pass those along to the admissions office, and then that information will be reviewed along with the rest of your application.
And so it’s sort of just, you know, whatever your interviewer remembers and ends up jotting down in, in their writeup afterwards. That’s what’s gonna be saved from the interview itself. But you’re probably not gonna have like a recording of your interview saved.
If I’m not asked for an interview, can I reach out and still get one? Would that help me in the application process? , yeah. For this, you definitely can, you can reach out to your regional admissions office officer. But what I would do in that case is definitely check the school website first and see if they offer interviews in general.
If they don’t, I wouldn’t reach out, but if they do, you can always just ask. And then sometimes you can, I guess, call the admissions office and request an interview if maybe you’re gonna be visiting on that campus or somewhere near the area. But usually I would just ask first before, before you know, you, you take the step to schedule.
If you have multiple mini interview structure, would you still recommend asking questions to each interviewer at e at the end of each interview? . Yeah, so this depends on, I guess, how the interviews are structured themselves. If you end up having it so that the interviewer is like, a lot of the times, the interviewer will ask you what questions you have for them.
In that case I would ask, you know, questions at the end because they’re asking you to for this, you know, feel free to vary the questions that you ask based on who’s actually interviewing you. So maybe for each person you might ask you a little bit about their college. , maybe you’re gonna ask them, you know, if they’re in a similar major or similar career, how they got to that career.
Just more questions, more curated to their experiences. If, you know, you’re told that the, the multiple mini interview is very, you know, you get 20 minutes each, you shouldn’t waste any time. They’ll probably end up just asking you more of the questions so they can get to know more about you. Do juniors go to college interview?
So this, I guess depends. I feel like most commonly I see seniors getting college interviews, but I know sometimes juniors will have interviews if they’re applying maybe for like a specific summer program or some kind of, you know, scholarship or contest that’s more geared towards juniors. So as a junior definitely can get an interview, but it’s probably gonna be for something other than a college.
I. Okay. That was our last question. Thank you, Lily. These were, I mean, I feel like our audience were asking really great questions. They are, they’re getting ready for their college interviews cuz these are some good questions. So like I said, thank you Lily, for sharing how to crush your college interviews and thank you everyone for participating tonight.
Last thing I wanna share is actually this was our final webinar for this month. However, we will have a list of different webinars coming up for the month of January. So please sign up on our website. We should have them up in the next few days. And with that best concludes our webinar. Goodnight everyone.
Hey, goodnight. Really.