On-campus interviews for prospective students have been waning in popularity over the years, but many high-profile schools still have them, as do schools with a limited number of seats, such as many regional liberal arts colleges. Even if you are applying to a school that does not require interviews, they can be a great way to connect with professionals on campus and make a solid first impression. This can not only help with admissions, it can also serve as a way to make contacts that can help you learn to navigate campus resources or even referrals to student leadership positions. The more your admissions representative knows you, the better they can put you in touch with information that will help you find your niche on campus. A solid interview helps with all these things.
Step 1: Research & Assemble Information
What are the most common campus questions prospective students get asked? What information do you want to find out about most? Are there any relationships to community organizations or events that provide opportunity to students and alumni? Did you know to ask these questions?
Preparing for a campus visit that includes interviewing with a university representative means knowing what they might ask you, as well as what you want to ask them. It also means checking out the school in advance, so that you can be specific and get the best possible information. Once you know how you want to present your thoughts and in what order, you’ll need to find a space and some people to help you practice until your interview is smooth.
Here are a few of the most common questions you might encounter, but remember that you may also find specific questions based on the program you wish to enter, if any, and also that there are many, many more potential questions. These are just a few of the most common ones.
What are your short and long term goals? What steps are you taking to make sure that you are prepared to meet them?
What goals do you have for yourself outside of your career? Say, over the course of ten years?
What got your attention when you looked at our college?
What can I tell you about our campus or programs?
What kinds of activities do you like to do in your free time?
As you can tell, most of these questions are designed to help the admissions representative or other campus staff how you might fit in, and more than a couple of them are designed to prompt you to ask questions back or to give information that helps the interviewer to understand your needs. Most of the other campus interview questions you will find in your research will have similar goals. It is important to review as many sample questions as you can find so that you are well-prepared, but it is also important to review what they have in common, so that you don’t feel like you have to start from scratch on each new answer.
Step 2: Practice Answering Questions
This means actually rehearsing your answers, not just writing them out so that you have them in mind. Having already said the words out loud, or at least some close version of them, helps with confidence. Your brain and body have an easier time understanding and working toward goals if they have previously done the same thing, so by practicing your questions, you are smoothing out your skills, making them more accessible and helping yourself to feel more at ease throughout the campus visit. When you know you’re ready for the interview and you have a clear idea about what your goals are with it, some people find the actual day of the event can be fairly relaxing.
Even if you’re the kind of person who will never quite enjoy the process, practicing your answers and getting feedback from friends and family is a great way to make sure that you are as ready as possible and that your campus visit will go the way you want it to. As you practice, remember these tips:
You don’t want to give a memorized speech, so focus more on the information you are delivering and being comfortable with it. Paraphrase yourself, and go with the moment.
Be ready with follow-up questions, and try to find someone who can provide answers when you practice, if at all possible.
Remember that the interview is about you and your goals, and that the school is there to help you achieve them. Show them what you have to work with.
If you keep these tips in mind, then you should find yourself well prepared for all your on-campus interviews.