Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the next month or so applications for both boarding schools and universities will be due. Hopefully you have not left things to the last minute and are not scrambling to complete them! Submitting applications take time and energy, and just when you think it’s all over, you get notified that a school wants to conduct an interview!
Many teenagers have never been formally interviewed, but it’s important to remember that a university interview is just a conversation with an adult. With the title ‘interview’, the conversation seems to carry much more weight and importance than it really should. While an interview at Cambridge really is an interview, at other schools, the conversation is really another method of getting to know you, the student.
There are a couple of things you should bear in mind when contacted about an interview/conversation:
- Make sure you set the appointment at a convenient time for both you and the representative. This may take some negotiating on your part, but generally speaking the interviewer will set out particular times and dates when they are available.
- The interview is conducted either in person, by Skype or by phone. If the interview is in person, the setting should be quiet but also public. A restaurant, coffee shop, hotel lobby etc.
- Remember that most of the time the person talking to you is most often they are an alum – someone who at sometime graduated from the school. (Although sometimes they are a representative from the school)
- Typically the alum is a professional who works locally and has offered to provide this service to their alma mater (the school they graduated from) as a way of giving back.
- Once the time and place is set, plan ahead. Think what you will wear even if it is a Skype conversation. Look presentable and respectable. No need to over dress but definitely do not show up in a t-shirt and blue jeans. As the saying goes, dress for success.
- The interview has many different purposes:
- To get to put a face to a name and application
- To get to know you better as a person. Sometimes however, the interviewer does not have your application, resume or other pertinent information in front of them. They may just have your name. It is fine to ask the person if they have any information about you so you know exactly where you stand and what information you will need to highlight.
- If you are a non-native English speaker, the interview could be in part about your language abilities: how well you listen and how well you respond to their questions. Part of the interviewers job may be to assess whether you will be able to handle education in a second language.
- Finally and perhaps most importantly, the interview is for the interviewer to see if you are a match to the school. It is very important that you do sufficient research so you can describe how you think you fit their campus academic and social culture.
- Since this is really a conversation, it is a good idea to have some questions that you would like to ask. Make sure you are not asking for an answer which is easily in school publications or their website.
It is rare that the interview will get you into the school. It is simply another piece to the application puzzle. Unless you are rude or appear uninterested it is also difficult to fail an interview. If you engage in the conversation, show interest, know who you are and why you are applying to that particular school, the conversation will be another positive aspect of your application.
My final bit of advice is to have fun. Most of the people conducting the interview are interesting people. Take the time to get to know them and learn about their experience while attending that school, and enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com