To everyone, interviews are scary. It makes you nervous just to think about it. But why? Yes, you don’t know what exactly your interviewer is going to ask you. You don’t know how to reply to those said questions “correctly”. You don’t know if your answer helped or undermined your application. But another reason that many students don’t recognize is the unknown. Unknown, as in you don’t know what kind of environment you will be thrown into to be evaluated by a stranger for a major life decision. In this article, I will help you prepare/visualize this daunting interview process and show you how it works.
When preparing for the interview, first review your application and ask yourself, “What kind of a student am I?” Find your unique persona ready to be presented. Likely, it’ll be your most impressive activities. For example, I was a scholar who was a part-time hockey player and a part-time cellist. Then compile a list of commonly asked questions, formulate a response, and practice them in front of an audience. However, (this is very important), when you actually go into the interview, never, and I mean never, just recite your memorized response. Have a conversation. Make it smooth. Just have the right points.
It’s time to go on our little trip now. It’s mid-winter, and you are traveling to 6 or more schools in the East with your parents. You get to a school, and now you have about an hour or so till you have to find your way to the admission office.
What should you wear? Believe it or not, your outfit is important. It gives you a certain impression and an ambiance. Your interviewee is also a person, so they will get affected by your looks, just like your tone and attitude (which I will go over in a bit). My biggest advice is to wear what the majority of students at boarding schools wear, in a formal setting, of course. While there are so many different options, I can give you a few pointers. For guys, first of all, don’t wear a suit that doesn’t fit you. As a tour guide, I used to call these dad-suits. One of those that are too big and look like something a middle-aged corporate person would wear to work. If you want to keep it simple, loafers/dress shoes, grey pants/khakis, white/blue dress shirt, a navy jacket, and a tie are a way to go. Now a tie can give you a certain headway. If you can, wear the tie merch from the school you are visiting. It shows your enthusiasm and can be easily found in school stores. If not, try to wear something with a design that represents your interests. I once wore a tie with hockey sticks and pucks on it and the first thing one of my interviewers said to me, pointing at my tie, was, “you play?” Luckily, he was a hockey coach, and we talked about hockey during our entire interview. Nothing else. As you can see, it can be a good conversation starter. For girls, the outfit options vary so much but try not to be flashy. Keep it simple with a nice dress and a coat. Dress shoes as well. Need inspiration? Go to the school website or Instagram and look for pictures of students in formal outfits.
All dressed up, you walk into the admission office. You’ll most likely be greeted by a faculty at the reception along with a few other visitors, just like you. There will be some beverages, hot chocolate, lemonade, and snacks. Your tour guide comes and calls your name. You do the tour and end back at the office. Find a couch, get a hot chocolate, and breathe. There is nothing to be nervous about. Just go over some responses to the most commonly asked interview questions. Soon enough, someone will come out and call your name again. That’s your interviewer. They will most likely have a cup of coffee in one hand and your file in the other. They walk you to their office, and you sit down. Now it’s time.
My biggest advice for the interview is to build a relationship with your interviewer. In fancier terms, we call it creating a rapport, but essentially, make them interested in you. The best interview is when you have a fun and passionate conversation about 1 or 2 things of your passion. In order to do this, I suggest briefly introducing all of your interests, naturally but concisely, at the beginning. While you do that, pay attention to the interviewer’s reactions. Pick up any subtle signs like eyes opening wider, smiles, changing postures, and the easiest, a comment or a follow-up question. Then dive deeper into those matters. Keep in mind, your interviewer might be a little cold at the beginning. That’s because it's a formal setting, and they want to set a certain authority. Just keep your tone passionate and enthusiastic. Sit up straight and talk slowly. Tell yourself, “I am qualified to attend this school, and I want to. I REALLY DO.” And act like it.
At the end, most interviewers will ask you, “Do you have any further questions?” Make sure you have a few (not a lot, 3-4 is good) ready. It can be anything but don’t ask questions that you can find the answers to on the school website easily. My go-to was, “what is your favorite tradition?”
Congratulations. You just finished your interview. And you did it great. Now let’s hope for some good news.
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