The last couple of years have been an absolute blur as a result of the pandemic, and the subsequent restrictions in constant flux. Interviews have been moved completely online, leaving students to navigate towards nailing a crucial part of their process over Zoom or Skype. We’ve put together a little list of tips to alleviate your anxieties and help you ace your interview to your dream school!
It's important that you treat your online interview as you would an in-person one. Showing up to time is of paramount importance of course, but there is also the matter of dressing for the occasion. Not all colleges outline a strict dress code, but it's good practice to appear well-dressed. The interviewer isn’t going to be able to see those well-polished shoes of yours, or those socks your grandma got you for Christmas, but wearing a professional shirt/top and jacket will go a long way.
When on the call, do your best to avoid looking at your screen, and instead look into the camera, as that will give the interviewer the impression that you are maintaining eye contact throughout. Many students tend to have notes that they may refer to during the interview, but try not to make that stare at a piece of paper for too long - interviewers can tell.
Admissions Officers often have tons of applications to read and several students to interview in a day, so it is important to stick to your assigned time slot. Students often run into issues with their laptops or Zoom at the last moment, so ensure you troubleshoot everything well beforehand.
It is also advisable that you find an environment conducive to interviews - a quiet room with plenty of natural light would be best. Let your mom know that you’re going to be on an important call. The last thing that you want is for her to interrupt, yelling at you to do the dishes.
Schools like to know that you’ve done your homework, and so it's a good idea to look through their website and get the gist of their campus culture or course offerings. If an interviewer asks you why you want to attend a particular college, you should be able to explain how particular courses, majors or teaching methods suit you, as well as how you can participate in campus life. You’d really stand out if you could point to particular professors and their research, as well as outline how working with them would help your own academic goals.
Many interviewers may be interested in something you mentioned in your application, so take a read through to refresh your memory.
Besides getting to know your academic interests and future goals, your interviewer will be interested in understanding how you’ve grown as an individual throughout high school. To that end, it would be wise to prepare ‘STAR stories’ that outline your motivation, initiative, teamwork abilities, leadership, commitment, and problem solving skills. These are comprised of:
- Situation - A situation you were in that had a positive or beneficial outcome.
- Task - Think of what needed to be achieved, and the tools you had to achieve it.
- Action - Outline everything that you had to do, either by yourself or in a group to achieve the task in question.
- Results - What happened in the end? What did you learn from this experience?
Interviews can be scary and incredibly daunting, not only because you have to open up to someone new, but also because you have your future on the line. Remember that the interviewers aren’t there to interrogate you, but rather to learn about you and understand how you’d play your part in the growth of their university.
To that end, practice your interviewing skills with someone that you trust. This could be a friend, parent, teacher, or even a mentor. You’re going to find it difficult at first, but with each practice session it will be easier and easier to find the right stories and make the right connections. After all, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.