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Rock the College Interview

Wednesday, March 6, 2019   (0 Comments)
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By Bryan Rutledge, Director of College Counseling, Woodward Academy, College Park, GA

While many colleges (especially public universities) do not conduct interviews with prospective students, others require face time with applicants. Make sure your students are prepared for success with these tips:

1.    Colleges readily share their interview policy, which could include Skype or alumni interviews. For colleges that conduct them, interviews usually take place sometime between spring of junior year and January of senior year. Interviews are usually 30 to 45 minutes in length and informal. 

2.    The interview itself is not a make or break test but failing to avail oneself of an interview offer shows lack of interest, which could be harmful to admission. Prepare and do your best; this is an excellent preview of future interviews for jobs or professional schools. Be ready to describe your school community and speak with enthusiasm about your academic and co-curricular life, possible plans for the future, and what specifically attracted you to the college. 

3.    A few days before the interview, visit the college’s website and make notes on the college’s history and mission, academics and co-curriculars of interest, and the career placement in your preferred areas. 

4.    At the beginning of the interview, hand the interviewer your one-page resume with a smile. Look him or her in the eye, shake hands, say your name and that you are pleased to meet them. Trust and engage your interviewer in conversation; show you care about their community and what you would bring to it. 

5.    When invited to ask questions, don’t ask the obvious like “How many students are here?” Instead, ask open-ended questions such as “How might I combine my interest in neuroscience and pre-med?” or “What kinds of internships do history majors conduct?” or “What do you like most about this college?” 

6.    Know your standardized test scores. Give full answers to questions without talking on and on or trailing off inaudibly. Be proud of your accomplishments and honest about any shortcomings, but don’t brag or blame others. 

7.    When the interview ends, thank the interviewer by name, shake hands again, and ask for his or her business card. Within days, send a thank-you message mentioning some of the topics you discussed and reaffirming your interest in the college. 

Bryan Rutledge has directed college counseling at Woodward Academy in Atlanta since 2015. He previously served 19 years as director of college counseling at St. John’s School in Houston and as director of college guidance at Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, Kingston, PA, for six years. He has taught AP English, Southern literature, Civil War history, and philosophy. He holds an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in philosophy and sociology/psychology from Millsaps College. He oversees a staff of five college counselors plus an administrative coordinator.


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