Excellent interview skills can follow students through their entire lifetimes and become one of the greatest assets they can have. The following are some tips to improve the interview process and bring a student’s skills to the highest level possible.

Get the details about your interview

The key to a successful interview is preparation. Be sure that you can answer these questions:

  • What is the interview for?
  • Where will the interview take place?
  • Who will be interviewing you?
  • Do you know anyone who’s been through this particular interview before?
  • Have you received any written guidelines about the interview?

Learn about the organization hosting the interview

Write down 3-5 facts about the organization. Visit the organization’s Web site to find information such as:

  • Statistics
  • What is the college/organization known for?
  • Services the college/organization provides?

Anticipate questions and be sure you have answers

  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What are some of your long/short-term goals?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates?
  • How will you use this scholarship/job/internship to contribute to society?
  • How would your former boss/friend/teacher describe you?
  • Why are you interested in this college/scholarship/job?
  • Give an example of a time when you overcame an obstacle.
  • What are some local/national/world issues that are affecting you personally?
  • Who is your role model?
  • What are your academic interests? Why?
  • What are your interests outside of school? Why?

Prepare questions to ask the interview committee

Asking questions indicates a higher level of interest. Here are some questions you might consider posing:

  • What are you looking for in a scholarship recipient/student/employee/intern?
  • What has your experience been like at this college/organization?
  • What are your fondest memories of being at this college/organization?

Dress appropriately

  • Interviewees should dress in conservative business (sometimes business casual) attire.
  • Guys should wear slacks and a tie or suit
  • Ladies should wear conservative suit or dress
  • Ladies should refrain from wearing heavy makeup, perfume and accessories.

General rules of thumb for students:

  • The student should always handle scheduling the interview—not the parents.
  • Arrive 10 minutes early. This gives you time to breathe.
  • Do not bring your cell phone inside the building.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Ladies, cross your ankles.
  • Bring copies of your résumé and portfolio if applicable.
  • If you have a My Space or Facebook account, make sure the information is something you would want your grandmother to see. Colleges and organizations are becoming savvy to these Internet sites. Inappropriate photos and language may have a negative effect on your interview.

Things you may not know:

  • You can bring your notes to the interview. Instead of attempting to memorize all of your answers, make some notes and take them with you to the interview. There’s nothing wrong with glancing down to jolt your memory. Some people will blank on information when they get nervous, having your notes will solve this problem; but only refer to them when necessary.
  • The people interviewing you want you to succeed.
  • It’s okay to be yourself. Your interviewers don’t expect you to act like you are 25 when you are 17. Act your age.
  • If you don’t understand a question, say so!

More Tips:

  • Have someone who loves you ask sample interview questions for practice.
  • Try to get the inside scoop whenever possible.
  • If you ever have to answer a question with a “no,” follow it with a positive. (Ex: “Do you have experience with Photoshop?” “No, but I’m a very quick learner.”)
  • Make your answers short and concise, your notes will help you to not ramble. (Try to answer in 3’s “What are some of your strengths?” “I’m self-motivated, extremely organized and creative. For example, in high school I would take on extra projects…”
  • Give real-life examples whenever possible. Tell a story. Make your interview personal. It really is all about you.
  • Never say “I don’t know.” This is the worst thing you can do! Say anything other than that!
  • Have a pleasant smile and eye contact.
  • If there is ever a lull in the interview, jump in and ask a question or point out something you found on the organization’s Web site.
  • Thank the interviewers for their time.

Finally, always send a thank you note or thank you email a few days after the interview.

Schedule a Get2College Interview Primer
Contact us today and let us help you prepare for your scholarship, honors college, college admissions or job interview. We’ll give you a heads-up on what to expect and how to handle it. Then we’ll follow up with a mock interview to make sure you’ve got it down.