One of the topics you can be sure to discuss in your college interview is yourself. Talking about yourself might sound easy, but in fact it can be quite difficult. Here are a few tips to decode the questions and make sure you are prepared:
“So, tell us about yourself…”
Often the interviewer will ask you just to talk a bit about yourself. If you’ve already written a good personal statement, make sure you review it beforehand. That way, you’ll remind yourself of any qualities or stories that you want to accentuate. This will also help you to stay true to your editorial line.
Keep in mind those things you should not include in your college essay. You will also generally want to avoid them in your interview.
The hidden meaning behind ‘so tell us about yourself’ is ‘tell us why this college is a good fit for you?“
In order to respond appropriately, you’ll need to have done your research. What does the college have that you need?
EXAMPLE: “Although I am interested in engineering in general, I am also particularly interested in working for the defence industry. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to apply to this program is because I have read some of Professor Johnson’s work on radar systems, and I’m hoping to take a class with her.”
You want to show that your relationship with the school will be reciprocal.
In other words, you want to make it clear that not only you will benefit from the school, but the school will also benefit from you. Of course, this can be difficult to do if you don’t have a lot of experience. One good tactic, though, is to discuss how you plan to get involved on campus.
EXAMPLE: “I’m excited to join the Robotics Club! I like to tinker with robots at home.”
While talking about yourself, you might also be asked to talk about your weaknesses.
What they really are asking is ‘how do you overcome your weaknesses?’
You should feel free to discuss nearly any weakness. However, you don’t want the interviewer to think that your weakness will compromise your ability to succeed as a student. For instance, don’t just admit that you are unpopular and don’t have any friends. If you have a hard time making friends, be sure to explain what strategies you’ve developed to overcome that weakness.
EXAMPLE: “I’m a bit shy. However, I’ve found that one of the best ways for me to make friends is to get involved in a group that has a cause. That’s another reason why I’m hoping to join the Robotics Club.”
If you can describe yourself in terms that show you are a good fit, then you’ll be sure to ace the interview. Will your interview be conducted by an alumni? If so, see How to prepare for the alumni interview
Maija Wallace is a freelance writer for college admissions blogs. Her website is located at www.travelinglang.us