College Interviewing Advice

Here’s some college interviewing advice for you: keep an eye out for “the turn.” Don’t know what “the turn” is in a college interview? That’s ok. We’re about to tell you. The turn is when the college interviewer shifts the focus to selling his or her university rather than asking you questions about yourself. When you first get there, there’s a good chance you’re going to be asked by your interviewer to tell him or her a little bit about yourself. Maybe then you’ll be asked about your favorite extracurricular activities, your favorite courses, books, and what you’d do if you had a weekend free with no set plans. But eventually, the interviewer — and this applies to college interviews and to job interviews — will turn the conversation to what you’re there for.

Since you’re applying to college, the interviewer will tell you why his or her alma mater is a terrific school. Maybe they’ll talk about the athletic teams or the great psychology department, or a wonderful experience they had during a homecoming celebration twenty years ago. Whatever it is that they choose to talk about, listen, be engaged, and ask follow-up questions. People love to talk about themselves. They’ll come away from the interview with more positive thoughts. So let them talk about themselves. Let them tell their stories. Don’t be bored. This is a good thing — it’ll positively impact your evaluation. It’s the same reason people are happy when they put a pen between their teeth. That pen forces them to smile and smiling leads to happiness. A similar idea applies to this situation.

Exactly when that turn takes places also is a great indicator of how well your interview is going. If that turn happens two minutes into the interview, if the interviewer starts selling you on their university at that point, chances are you’ve already really impressed them. If, however, the turn happens with a minute left in the interview, it was probably just added on as a courtesy because the interviewer felt obliged to make the turn. In this case, the interview probably didn’t go so well. So look out for that turn and try to get it to happen earlier rather than later. Be polite, prepare for questions in advance, dress well, and demonstrate your intellectual curiosity.

While you’re here, check out this video on what not to do on college interviews!

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