An interview should be viewed as an exchange of ideas, for the benefit of both the interviewer and the student. The interviewer wants to learn more about what makes a student unique, and how he or she could make a contribution to the school.
The advantage to attending an interview is that, like the essay, it provides the opportunity to make a case for admission directly to the decision maker. A good interview could be a connection to a person who may eventually become an advocate when the committee reviews the application. The application contains the "facts" about a student, and this is a chance for the applicant to put the "facts" into context if they need explanation.
How Colleges Interview
Different colleges weigh the interview process differently. Colleges can treat interviews as:
- Required - Highly evaluative, very important to the admission decision.
- Recommended - Evaluative, can be important in the admission decision.
- Optional/Informational - Less evaluative, but still important to the admission decision.
- Not available.
On-Campus or Off-Campus
- On-Campus Interviews - These are interviews with a dean, an admissions counselor, a faculty member or even a student. Regardless of whom the interviewer is all interviews should be taken seriously. Whether it's the Head of Admissions or a first-year student, the interviewer is there to evaluate the applicant and it will have an impact on his/her admittance. Call the college and request an official visit and interview.
- Alumni Interviews - When all of the on-campus interview slots are filled or the applicant lives a great distance from the school, the institution will ask graduates of the college to conduct a local alumni interview. While the alumni interview may be more casual, colleges take alumni input seriously. They believe that graduates of the school should be able to know a good candidate when they see one.
- Keep extracurricular activities and your unique characteristics in mind.
- Prepare and practice descriptive, clear and passionate answers.
- Review literature and web pages from the school; talk to alumni; be informed.
- Develop questions beyond just facts.
- Take a tour right before the interview, if possible, to get a feel for the campus.
- Follow up after an interview. Write a thank you note, ideally hand written, at a minimum an email.