7 Steps Your Students Can Take to Nail that College Interview

Your students are gaining independence, making decisions that will impact the rest of his or her life, and maybe even withdrawing from parental guidance. As your students prepare for their college interviews they can really use your assistance to help ace it.

If you’re struggling to find ways to help your students during this time, read on! You’re more valuable than you know.

It begins with a handshake

Interview etiquette is second nature to most adults, but teenagers may be new to the rules of the interview game. Start by telling your student what to expect. Professional dress, eye contact and a good handshake are simple things that go a long way toward making the best possible first impression. While your student may resist finessing these things, they will pay off.

Practice those interviews

Put your student through mock interviews. This will take a little bit of preparation on your part as you research admissions interviews, the school specifics your student might need to know, etc. It may also take a little bit of buy-in from your students to participate but it is well worth the effort to have a practice run through.

Brainstorm questions

Alternatively, your student may prefer to think about potential questions quietly, practicing answers aloud with a peer or a teacher at their school. Brainstorm questions your student might want to review.

Facilitate campus visits

Students will undoubtedly feel more comfortable in an admissions interview if they’ve seen the campus. Help your student arrange visits to a number of schools. This not only helps ensure your student will make a more informed decision; it also bolsters confidence going into an admissions interview. After each visit, ask your student for his or her impressions of the campus, students, faculty and curriculum.

Highlight accomplishments

College admissions interviews are all about confidence, so find ways to help your student identify highlights of his or her academic career. When you recognize their achievements, students will likely find these things easier to call to mind during the admissions interview process. Assist your student in finding those things that will capture an interviewer’s attention. Give your student the confidence and encouragement needed to excel at the interview process.

Identify potential weaknesses

If your student gets as far as a scheduled admissions interview, he or she is very likely qualified to attend a number of schools. However, your student may have a few holes in his or her application. Colleges may want to know the reason behind a low grade or a lack of involvement during sophomore year. They may have questions about homeschooling or athletic achievement. Assure your student that admissions representatives are not looking for reasons not to admit students; they’re simply asking what they need to know to identify students who are most likely to be successful at a certain school. Even if your student’s application is not perfect, he or she has still has a great shot at getting into a first-choice school, assuming the student is able to provide solid answers. Help your student identify and respond to potential weaknesses so he or she is not caught off-guard.

Team effort

Finally, help your student remember that the college application and admissions process is a team effort. Your student has worked tirelessly to put together a comprehensive admissions package and you’ve been supportive the whole time. Admissions representatives know what it takes to get to this point, and they’re typically very understanding. Ultimately, they’re just people who also want to make the best choice for their college and for your student.

Everybody is on the same side, working toward the same goal — here’s to accomplishing it!

Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.