The College Interview: How to Impress


Job applicant having interview. Handshake while job interviewing

College interview. Those two words are enough to make many high school seniors nervous.

“What should I say? Are they going to ask me tricky questions, or they are going to see if I arrive at the right answers myself?”

Overthinking is a common mistake; college interviews are an opportunity to convey what a resumé does not, and while that may be easier said than done, “strategizing” is useless.

“Interviews are a chance [for the interviewer] to get to know the student in a more personal way, and for the student to get to know a little more about the school,” says Director of College Admissions Cindy Pendergast. “It’s important to think of the interview as a two-way street—not only are you trying to get accepted to the college, but you are seeing if it is the right fit.”

Owen Meredith ’16 agrees. “I think, in an interview, you should say anything that is not going to be included in your application,” he says.

Pendergast advises students ask questions that show you have done your research and know what interests you at a particular school. If you want to major in political science, for instance, ask about the school’s congressional internship program.

Connecting with the interviewer on a personal level can help a student convey her best self. “I did one interview where it was a very structured, kind of traditional interview,” says Xiomara Núñez ’16. “I didn’t feel comfortable expressing how I really felt. At one of the other colleges they talked to me as if I was a normal person.”

Some students try to pretend to be “smarter” than their usual selves and rattle off impressive facts and accomplishments. Rarely, Pendergast says, are these strategies well-received. “[An interview] is not a time to try to impress or say things that you think the interviewer wants to hear,” she says. “It’s really a time to be authentic and talk about the things that are most important to you, because despite the rumors…there are no right or wrong answers.”

With early decision deadlines approaching, seniors are definitely pinched for time.