A two-dimensional paper application doesn’t really allow any student the opportunity to show an admission committee their personality. An admission interview seeks to provide students with that very opportunity. Admission interviews take various forms from Skype interviews to alumni interviews to on-campus interviews with students. William & Mary offers the last of these during the summer months as a means by which students can put their personality into the application…literally.
W&M’s interviews are optional; it’s perfectly okay not to pursue one. However, if you’re comfortable sitting down withsomeone you’ve never met (in our case a W&M rising senior) and talking about yourself for 20-25 minutes, and you can make a visit to campus over the summer, we recommend that you give interviewing a try. Our interviews are designed to be a conversation between prospective students and W&M’s Senior Interviewers. The goal: to learn more about the prospective applicant, specifically his/her extracurricular activities, academic passions, life perspective, creativity, and humor. In essence, we want to get to know you, as cliché as that might sound.
So, here are some tips for those of you who decide to venture forth into the admission interview:
1. Be yourself. This goes for the application too. Do not be who you think we want you to be. Oftentimes nothing is less appealing than being disingenuous.
2. Be proud, but don’t be cocky. There’s a thin line between being able to speak proudly about your accomplishments and bragging about them.
3. Be prepared for some offbeat questions. Some of our favorites are: if you were to draw yourself, what would the background of the drawing be or what is something those who know you well would be surprised to learn about you, or if you could hold a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, what record would you hold.
4. Be prepared to answer the why questions. One and two-word responses just aren’t helpful. The interview is designed to go beyond the application so use sentences and paragraphs to answer questions.
5. Answer the question asked. Tangents can be fun and can take an interview to the next level but too many or too random ones don’t help anyone involved.
6. Be prepared. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit or know everything about the institution at which you’re interviewing but come with some questions to ask and be ready to interview.
7. Be aware of your nervous habits. We expect nerves, they’re totally okay. Interviewing can be a scary situation. But try to keep really distracting nervous habits in check (i.e. twirling or pulling your hair out, spinning in your chair, etc).
8. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Oftentimes our interviewers ask “what three adjectives would your best friend use to describe you?”. My favorite response: someone pulled out his cell phone and said “let’s call him and ask”. Genius!
9. Turn off your cell phone. Enough said. Once someone answered their cell during an interview and proceeded to have a conversation; not cool.
10. Enjoy the experience. It’s a great opportunity to learn interviewing skills, to impress a potential future college, and to learn more about the college to which you might be applying.
– Wendy Livingston