I'm a bit of an introverted person, so between that, the virtual setup, and nerves, I don't think I've been able to succeed in really engaging my interviewers thus far. So firstly, how do you know if you've done well in a college interview? Does it have to have lots of back-and-forth, even if you're not extroverted or you can't find something to relate with? Or can it seem mediocre and end up pretty good in whatever record the interviewer keeps of it?
Also, how important are interviews in the college process anyway - do they count against you if you do badly? The schools I've done them for so far are Wesleyan (with a senior interviewer) and Skidmore (with my admissions officer). I don't know if it's worth continuing to sign up for interviews or not. I can offer more information on my interviews if need be.
If you can avoid doing them in your case, I would. They rarely count for very much in the admissions process. They do help students if you can create a memorable, engaging, positive, 30-60 minute experience for the interviewer, especially if you are not the strongest candidates. And are also very helpful in affirming for the AOs their gut reaction to your file if you are a top candidate. But as you suspect, if you come across poorly or boring or quiet, the interviewer might incorrectly write things that are not actually accurate about you. They might assume you are lacking a personality or someone fun to be around. You don't want them to make assumptions.
Since you are in the middle of the admissions process, there is not enough time to take public speaking classes or hire tutors to help you become a better interviewer. I would focus on putting together the best version of your application. If an interview is required from a school, then I would do some homework about the school and take some notes before you do your interview. If you come prepared then, you can just look at your notes to help you.
1. Always have an updated resume ready. Submit one to your interviewer prior to meeting with them online or zoom call. If you meet them in person, have a clean copy ready to hand to them soon after you make your initial introduction.
2. Let the interview speak first and figure out exactly what will engage him the most. You can tell from the first few sentences if he is a RAH RAH Alumni who loves going to College Games or if he is very professional and academic or someone super successful who is volunteering their time. Why is reading your audience important? You want to reserve some questions so that they talk about themselves to you. If your interviewer has a Yale Bulldogs cap on, then ask him something about Yale and his opinion on how attending Yale has changed since they attended.
3. Research the school as best as you can but if there are still questions you have that you can't find from the website or Collegevine etc, then write them down and ask them. For example, you might want to know if you can check out and look at rare books in the Beinecke Library at Yale, and if your interviewer ever did that.
4. When you run out of things to talk about, the interview is over. Basically, it's over faster if you have nothing to say. So if you want to create a memorable interview, you have to have something to ask so the interview talks and you have to have something to say.
5. The bottom line is that interview is a way to put the real-life applicant in front of someone relegated to vet whether you are in alignment with the type of student that school wants or needs. You are not supposed to be everyone's first choice or second choice. The goal should be mutual. You need to learn as much as possible about the school to see if it's a good fit for you and they are using this time to assess whether you are a good fit for them.
Unless your interviewer pulls you aside after to tell you how great you were, it can be pretty hard to know how well you've done! Some good back and forth, talking passionately about your interests and accomplishments, and asking informed and well-prepared questions about your interviewer's experiences at the given college can all contribute to a successful interview.
For some more tips on how to prepare for your interviews, check out Shravya's video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc5t3w6YDiA
the section of our blog on interviews here: https://blog.collegevine.com/category/college-admission/college-interview/
or our blog post on the 15 most common college interview questions here:
In general though, you don't need to worry so much! Alumni interviews are a pretty minimal part of the application process. While they can be used to gain an additional perspective on an applicant, they are actually most useful to colleges because they provide a good way for them to keep their alumni (the interviewers) involved in their community. While a terrible interview can definitely damage your chances (especially if you say something inappropriate or offensive or come off uninterested in attending the given school), a mediocre, solid, great, or truly excellent interview likely won't make much of a difference to your chances.
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