A college interview is an opportunity for your students to talk about their goals and experiences. Here are some ways you can help your students put their best foot forward and feel more confident about interviewing.
Types of Interviews
If students plan to (or are required to) interview, they should find out which type of interview the college is offering them. There are two basic kinds of college interviews:
- Evaluative Interview: Intended to help the institution assess the student as a candidate. The interviewer speaks with the student, takes notes, and reports all impressions to the admission committee. This evaluation becomes part of the student's application file. Interviewers are often admission officers but may be faculty members or alumni.
- Informational Interview: Intended to give the student information about the institution. This can be a one-on-one talk with a college representative or a group information session for applicants. Interviewers may be admission officers but might also be faculty members, alumni, or even current students at the college.
Although the informational interview's main purpose is to answer student questions about the college, it is possible that the college representative will also evaluate the student and pass an opinion on to the admission committee. Students should therefore always be aware of the impression they are making.
Either of these interviews can take place on or off campus (for example, the college may match up applicants with alumni interviewers who live in the same area).
Note: Some institutions don’t offer interviews, such as some public universities whose applicant pools are so large that offering interviews to all candidates is not feasible, and some private colleges.
Benefits of the Interview
Tell your students that it's usually to their benefit to interview if it is an option. Interviewing is one more way for a student to display a strong interest in a college, and it lets the interviewer get to know the personality behind the grades and test scores.
An interview is also a chance for prospective students to present themselves as winning candidates by virtue of sincerity or their personality, and to explain any extenuating circumstances that affected academic performance and describe the ways they will contribute to the college.
How Counselors Can Help
Help students practice interviewing by playing the part of a college admission interviewer and asking them to talk about their high school experiences and college goals. Point out their interview strengths as well as what they need to work on.
Many young people have had little experience in formal or businesslike situations. Acquaint students with interviewing basics such as making eye contact, smiling, and shaking hands.