5 Keys to Conquering the College Interview


When I applied for college, I joined the honors college at my university. I decided to interview for the honors college scholarship, which would be an extra $1,000 of financial support per school year. Praise God, I was awarded the scholarship! The interview process was an adventure and a growing experience. Now that my first year of college is over, I thought I would share some of the keys I learned about college interviews (the tips I would like to have known before interviewing). Here are several lessons I learned from my interview experience that can benefit you, whether you are interviewing for a job or for college.

1) Control your nerves

The morning before my interview, I was a big ball of nerves. I knew that in order to succeed, I had to gain control over my emotions. I spent the morning listening to sermons and soaking up scripture. Some verses that encouraged me were Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9, and 2 Timothy 1:7. I had to remind myself that emotions are often liars. Even though my hands were shaking as I was putting on my makeup, I continued to stand on God’s truth about being courageous. And praise God, when I walked into that interview my mind was clear and my nerves had disappeared.

2) Dress to impress.

Would you be apprehensive if your doctor walked into the exam room wearing an old t-shirt and basketball shorts? Or would you be a little bit concerned if your pastor showed up on Sunday morning wearing grass stained jeans and a shirt with half the buttons missing? We can either develop or destroy trust with the clothes we wear. You want to show the interviewer that you are taking this opportunity seriously. In the limited amount of time you have to impress your interviewers, your clothing is one way you can leave a professional impression.

3) Relax, you are not facing a firing squad.

While the interviewers will ask tough questions, they are not brutal investigators who are cheering for your demise. I was interviewed by two kind ladies, one who was a graduate of the honors college herself, and the other, a mom and wife with two kids. They are not waiting to eat you alive; they just want to hear your honest answers. Instead of treating your interview like an interrogation, be open and eager as you respond.

4) College interviews may be longer than entry level job interviews.

A college interview may be the toughest you have to face during your high school and college years. Normally, interviews for entry level jobs are relatively short in comparison to a college interview. Three of my friends who work entry level jobs said that their interviewers were fifteen to twenty minutes long. My college scholarship interview was forty-five minutes. Even if nothing comes from your college interview, you will at least have gained valuable experience handling a longer interview, which will serve you well when you enter the job market.

5) Be calm and confident.

If I could change one thing about my interview, I would have talked slower. Pace yourself.  Shake hands when you start and when you leave. Remember, you are entering the adult world. You may still feel like an awkward teenager, but rather choose to exude the poise of a polished professional.

If you have the opportunity to interview at a college, I would encourage you to take it! Reflecting on my own interview experience, I realized that even though preparing for the interview felt daunting, the task was completely manageable and helped me develop essential skills for the business world. Regardless of the outcome of your interview, you will come away with valuable experience that will help you both in your continued preparation for college and in life.

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