Saint Joseph's University

The College Interview: Debunking the Myths

“What do you mean I have to do an interview?  I thought I just had to submit an application?!”

For many of you, an interview with a college admissions representative may be the first interview of your lifetime.  Lucky for you, most college reps have been in your shoes before and have conducted countless interviews.  At the end of the day, we all just want to get to know you, the applicant, a little better and to hear about your interest in our college.  We all want you to do well!

So what should you expect? If you have the opportunity to interview with me, I always start by trying to put you at ease.  I might comment on the weather and tell a corny joke, and then I will remind you to relax.  We are both there to get to know each other better.

I always start my interviews with the same question and a warning that this question can be difficult: “Will you tell me about yourself?”  Why is this question so challenging?  Maybe it is because students are not used to talking about themselves or they are trying to figure out what I want them to say.  The trick is that I don’t have any expectations!  This is your chance to steer the conversation in any direction you wish.  If you would like to talk about your family and where you went on vacation, great! If you want to tell me about your interest in the natural sciences, even better!  What should you not mention?  In my opinion, I think you should start out positive, so if you have struggled in your math classes, save that information for later in the conversation. You wouldn’t start a first date by telling a not-so-flattering story about yourself, right?

Your answer to the first question should lead the interviewer to ask easy follow-up questions.  For example, if you mention that you love to travel and would like to study abroad in college, then your interviewer will likely ask about some cities you have been to in the past and where you might want to explore in the future.  This will also prompt the interviewer to tell you more about study abroad programs that are offered at their college.

Be sure to have a brief list of questions prepared.  The answers to your questions should not be easily found on Google, such as the number of students who attend this particular college.  Instead, ask more detailed questions about what kinds of internships students can pursue in a particular major or what kind of academic support is offered during course registration.  If you have an extracurricular interest from high school that you would like to continue into college, such as community service, be sure to ask about those kinds of opportunities.

Remember that interviews are supposed to be a two-way street.  The interviewer is trying to learn more about you and provide compelling information about why you should attend the college they represent.  You should put your best foot forward while also asking yourself the tough questions about what you are looking for in a college.  With these tips and a reminder to be yourself, you are on your way to completing a successful interview!

 

-Abbey Morris, Associate Director