Interviewing 101

Successful college interviews require the following on your part: Use a firm handshake, smile, relax, have fun, be yourself.

Use a firm handshake.  Simple but powerful.  Cold or limp or unsure handshakes make a compelling first impression.

Smile: Be upbeat, positive, interactive.  Interviewers are trained to get information out of people but they are not miracle workers.  They cannot make you open up if you refuse to do so.  If you smile and present a happy facade this will go a long way.

Relax: Nerves are prevalent I know but they can really detract from a quality interview.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself when you are interviewing at colleges.  The entire point of an interview is to put a three-dimensional spin on what is essentially a two-dimensional application.  Good interviews feel like meaningful conversations and not like an interview at all.

I recently interviewed a young woman who was clearly at ease and comfortable with herself and wasn’t afraid to be who she was in the interview.  I introduced myself and let her know that this interview was very informal and was designed to allow me to get to know her beyond her academic statistics and resume.  I told her I didn’t even have make-up on…this was that informal.  She responded with “I got changed in the car so I’m down with that”.  I knew from that point this was going to be a good interview.

Sure enough, she stayed true to form throughout the interview.  When I asked her what her current cell phone ring tone was she responded with a song with which I was not familiar.  She then asked me if I wanted to hear it and she took her phone out of her purse, player her ringer and started bopping her head to the beat.  It was the perfect interview moment; one that isn’t scripted or planed but one that just happens.  She was so incredibly endearing and so incredibly herself at that moment and others throughout the course of our conversation that I couldn’t help but be won over by her charm and her bubbly personality.

Last summer, one of our student interviewers (they normally conduct all interviews) was interviewing a young man and he asked the young man what three words his best friend would use to describe him.  His friend whipped out his cell phone and said “lets call him and find out”.  Answers like these are delightfully refreshing and unexpected and real.  I recognize that interviews can be incredibly nerve-wracking but they are designed to help you, to boost your profile with the admission office.

– Wendy Livingston

Categories: Admission, Faculty & Staff Blogs

No comments.

Comments are closed on posts older than one year, but we still want to hear from you. If you have a comment or question for us, please email