5 Tips to Prepare for a Scholarship or College Admission Interview

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After completing your college application, there may be another component to your college admission process — the interview. Whether your interview is for college admission or for a scholarship, getting ready can be a little bit nerve-wracking. But if you go into the interview with a positive attitude and you prepare well, your stress level will drop. Check out these five tips for interview success.

Tip 1: Be Yourself

"These interviews are about becoming three-dimensional and a little bit about personality," explains Lisa Sohmer, an independent college counselor in Palm Springs, Calif. “They're trying to get to know you in a different way. If they just want to know what grades you get in school, they can look at your transcript."

Also, the interviewer is someone who genuinely wants to know about you. “Students should remember that the person interviewing them is trying to help them — they're not trying to trick them; it's not like a job interview where only one person is going get the position," says Sohmer.

Tip 2: Know About the College

“Students should know something about the college," Sohmer says, "but no one's going to quiz them on details about the school."

Therefore, make sure you know about your plans at that college, such as the intended major or activities you would like to pursue, if you are preparing for a college interview.

Tip 3: Practice Talking About Yourself

You may not have experience talking about yourself, but a good way to prepare is to practice out loud. It could be helpful to do a mock interview with family, friends or a school counselor

“During the actual interview, don't bring up a topic you don't want to talk about," Sohmer advises. "In interviews, people often latch onto something an interviewee says and continue to talk about that topic," advises Sohmer.

In addition, try to avoid answering interview questions with “yes" or “no" responses. “It's okay to say, 'Well, I never thought about that. Can I just have a second to collect my thoughts?' Don't feel like you have to jump back in with an answer, because sometimes they're going to ask you something you haven't thought about," notes Sohmer.

Try to explain how a life experience affected you personally, if you are asked to share those. “For students that I have interviewed for scholarship purposes, I like for them to show and not tell me about their experiences," explains Trey Moore, association director of enrichment programs and student and alumni engagement coordinator in the Office of Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Oklahoma. “Show me why they are involved in what they are involved in. Show me what they have learned and how it has made them a better person. I need to be able to see the impact it has had on them."

Tip 4: Consider Location

Some colleges have alumni conduct interviews, and if these aren't taking place at the college, you should meet at places of business during typical operating hours or at a public place like a library or coffee shop. If students to go to a workplace, like the office of an interviewer, it should be during normal business hours.

In the past, it was fairly typical for alumni interviews to be held at an alum's home, but that is no longer ordinary for most institutions. "Students shouldn't go to somebody's house," advises Sohmer.

Tip 5: Dress Appropriately

Lastly, appearances count. Make sure you are dressed as if you are meeting a parent's friend or you're attending an event with your family. You don't need to be overly formal, but you should not be wearing ripped jeans or a wrinkled shirt.