Transcription: Interviewer: Good afternoon. Shall we begin our college alumni interview? Tell me about yourself.
Interviewee: Oh, that’s vague. Well, I’m honest, open, and sincere. I like to hang out with my friends. I…
Interviewer: Go on.
Interviewee: I really am passionate about music.
Interviewer: Okay. What’s your favorite book?
Interviewee: “The Great Gatsby.”
Interviewer: What did you like about it?
Interviewee: It just said so much about, like, Americana. I mean, it was, like, the great American novel for a, like, reason.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite book that you read outside of school for pleasure?
Interviewee: “Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger.
Interviewer: Salinger. Yes, one of my personal favorites. But, nonetheless, this is a book that I am quite certain you read for school, not for pleasure.
Interviewee: No, you’re wrong. I read it for pleasure over the summer for 11th grade summer reading. It wasn’t mandatory. I only received extra credit points.
Interviewer: Tell me about an activity you are passionate about.
Interviewee: I’m on my school’s varsity lacrosse, tennis, and soccer teams. I play the flute. But my real passion is Habitat for Humanity. One weekend every month I get to build a house for a poor family on the other side of the tracks.
Interviewer: What do you like about Habitat for Humanity?
Interviewee: The community service aspect. I like helping others. It’s really important work.
Interviewer: How about school? What’s your favorite class and why?
Interviewee: English. I love reading.
Interviewer: If you could have a free weekend, what would you do?
Interviewee: I would do my homework. I have lots of it. I might also see a movie if I have time after I finish my homework.
Interviewer: Any in particular?
Interviewee: “Twilight” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I really like that one.
Interviewer: Did you read the book?
Interviewee: It was a movie, not a book.
Interviewer: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Interviewee: I want to be a doctor to help others or a lawyer. I’m really interested in civil rights law. Social justice is important to me. I got to work for our state senator this past summer.
Interviewer: Oh, tell me about that experience. How did you get to do that?
Interviewee: My dad is a really successful attorney. He’s friends with our state senator and so I got an internship working for the senator, but I didn’t like it. I was mostly doing grunt work like getting coffee. I didn’t really get to make any changes.
Interviewer: Well, yes, change is hard. How did you spend your other high school summers?
Interviewee: The summer before, I, like, went on a trip to Europe. I got to go to eight countries. I saw, like, so much. I saw the Mona Lisa, the Alps, Buckingham Palace.
Interviewer: And the summer before?
Interviewee: I did a summer program at Georgetown to prepare me for college. It was nice to be around smart people. It was one of the first times I felt I fit in.
Interviewer: Tell me about something that interests you in the news right now?
Interviewee: I feel, like, really badly for Lindsay Lohan. She’s really going through a tough time.
Interviewer: Oh, yes. This is of great global importance. I don’t want to go to rehab, and I said no, no, no. If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?
Interviewee: Oh, that’s easy. Finn from “Glee.” He’s super cute.
Interviewer: But he’s not real. He’s a character in a television show. What do you foresee yourself majoring in?
Interviewee: Psychology. I mean, that is my passion for sure.
Interviewer: How do you see yourself standing out from the large, highly competitive applicant pool?
Interviewee: I am unique. There is nobody like me.
Interviewer: I am quite sure there isn’t. What makes you tick? How can you contribute to the diversity of a college?
Interviewee: I’m, like, not diverse. I’m white.
Interviewer: Diversity is not always a function of your ethnicity. There are many ways to add to the diversity of a college. Anyhow, tell me what you know about my college.
Interviewee: It’s beautiful. The campus is amazing. It’s ranked in the top ten of “US News and World Report.” The president, like, went there and the classes are really small.
Interviewer: Why do you want to go to my college?
Interviewee: Because it’s a top ranked school, and I want to get into one of the most competitive schools in the country so I can then get a great job.
Interviewer: Do you have any questions for me?
Interviewee: No. I think I’m good.
Interviewer: It’s been a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for your interest. Good luck with the college admissions process. That will be all. Thank you.[Pause]
Interviewer: When this young woman at last decides to leave my office, I will fill out an evaluation on this candidate. It will not be favorable. I would now like to outline a few of these reasons to you so that you don’t make the same mistakes even if your mistakes are not as egregious. Any single mistake can leave a distasteful impression.
For instance, when I asked her to tell me about herself, she told me my question was vague. Don’t criticize your interviewer and don’t then give a vague answer. A first impression is an important one. The candidate was also argumentative. Her inability to articulate on the reasons why she liked books and movies demonstrated a lack of intellect and curiosity. Her passion seemed all over the place.
Interviewee: You know I’m still here.
Interviewer: I can’t seem to find the button that gets you out of my office. I wish I could. Anyhow, she played a number of sports, an instrument, and expressed an interest in Habitat for Humanity, but she didn’t seem particularly passionate about any one of those activities. Show, don’t tell.
She also didn’t demonstrate any specific knowledge of my college. A student should read up on the literature of the college to which he or she is interviewing. If they haven’t had a chance to visit the college, take a virtual tour. Peruse the college’s website. She did no prior research.
Her answers were inarticulate and quite often obnoxious. She said the word “like” too frequently. She made a point of mentioning that her father is important, making her unlikable. Also, a candidate should come with questions of their own to ask. I like very much to talk about myself, so a candidate should give me that opportunity. It will make me feel like the interview went better than it did if she lets me stroke my own ego.
The candidate should also be conscious of nonverbal behavior to judge whether or not he or she should continue speaking and offer additional thoughts or to judge if the interview is over. My intuition tells me this young woman will not be getting admitted. She didn’t even say thank you or bye.