Getting into college today is a lot different than it was even ten years ago. As colleges are moving away from relying heavily on standardized tests like the SATs and moving towards a more balanced and “holistic” admissions approach it’s more important than ever for your student to put their best face forward . . . that is, with the interview!
The new normal of virtual meetings has allowed schools and employers to schedule meetings and interviews seamlessly online. With time and operating costs so low, expect the online interview to skyrocket in importance. This means knowing how to effectively prepare for the online interview is critical.
Tip 1: Practice, Practice, Practice
As they say, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression, and the interview may be the only face-to-face chance. Nail the interview and blow them away! What’s the best way to do this? Practice as many mock interviews as you can with your student. You can even ask your colleagues to help out!
Caution: teenagers may not do well with receiving feedback from family members or friends about their interview performance. Practicing mock interviews with people they have never met before will better simulate the actual process. And, practicing with someone who has already successfully enrolled in or graduated from their dream school is even better!
One go-to service for me is Qalbaq, the career advisory marketplace where academics and professionals of all backgrounds help with mock interviews and academic/career advice. Students can choose any individual that meets their needs and book them for a virtual prep session, all on the Qalbaq platform. Sessions are a la carte, so no need to pay thousands for a generic academic consultant. Instead, book the service needed with the right person and background, and the virtual meeting can be scheduled within hours!
After practicing a few times and learning to overcome stage fright, not saying “like” or “um” in every other sentence, and treating the interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation, your student is ready for game day!
Tip 2: Get the Inside Scoop About your Interview(er)
Today’s college interviews can run in many forms: sometimes they are optional, sometimes required. Sometimes they are conducted by admissions officers, and sometimes by the school’s alumni. Either way, it’s critically important to do a little background research about the school’s interview process. An interview only lasts 20-30 minutes, so don’t waste time asking if the dorms have air conditioning! Instead, your student should be prepared to ask thoughtful questions about the school, the potential areas of interest or major being considered, and learn more about the culture and fit. Even better, if the interviewer’s identity is known in advance of the interview, doing some research on that individual and asking directly relevant questions may help the conversation—after all, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?
Tip 3: Get the Inside Scoop about your College
Each college has its own unique culture and expectations for the students it wants to admit. For example, what are the diversity initiatives for underrepresented students? The best time to learn about these nuances is actually before the interview, preferably after speaking to someone familiar with them. This knowledge demonstrates familiarity with the school and prepares the student to ask insightful questions during the interview. There is nothing better than having a meaningful conversation!
Again, suppose your student does not have access to the school’s alumni or know about particular programs or areas of interest. In that case, Qalbaq is a great tool to get honest feedback from everyday professionals who have been there, done that.
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