If you are in the process of applying to a boarding school in the US, you might find that interviews are often a large component of the application. While some schools might offer virtual interviews, others prefer in person conversations. If it is possible for you to interview in person, that can be more engaging and a fun way for you to get to know the campus. However, online interviews are also a fantastic way to show your personality and connect with a staff member. Whether interviewing in person or online, the interview is a critical stage in the admissions process for any school or job, so you want to make sure you are fully prepared going in. Below are some key tips for acing your interview.
1. Calm Your Nerves
Interviews can be nerve-wracking for many people. Especially if you are more shy, a long conversation with a stranger might feel intimidating. But I promise, interviewers are kind, patient, and excited to meet you! The interview is a fun, laid-back conversation that gives you the opportunity to add more information about yourself that may not have been in your written application. But if those nerves are getting the best of you, there are a number of simple ways to relax your brain and body. Most importantly: smile and breathe! Smiling and breathing relaxes your nervous system and tells your brain that everything is alright. Smile at people on the street, at yourself in the mirror, and when you meet your interviewer! Another way to build confidence is to dress to impress. For interviews you always want to make sure you are dressed formally, but also make sure you are wearing something that makes you feel confident. So smile, put on your favorite fancy clothes, and take a deep breath!
2. Make a Plan
Students who are the most calm during interviews are the ones who have practiced and prepared what they want to share. Oftentimes, schools have a pre-set list of questions they will provide to you before the interview. These questions usually ask you to provide specific details about your personality, your academics, and your extracurriculars. When preparing for the interview, start by going onto the school’s website and looking for the interview questions. Write out an answer to each question, and practice talking through your answer in the mirror. How did it sound? Are there certain concepts you want to phrase differently? When preparing your answers, make sure you include all the incredible aspects about yourself that you want the interviewer to know. For example, what are your values? What is something you did recently that you are proud of? What makes your application stand out from others?
3. Practice with Family and Friends
While some interviews will have pre-prepared questions, all interviewers are bound to ask a set of questions that you have not heard before. These new, unplanned questions are meant to get a sense of your personality, and how well you can formulate an answer on the spot. The best way to prepare for these types of questions is to simulate a mock interview with your friends or family. Set aside 15 or 30 minutes to sit down with someone you trust and have them ask you a set of questions. You can also find loads of interview tips and practice questions online!
4. Answer Questions Fully
Sometimes when we are nervous, we forget what we wanted to say or lose our train of thought. It is important to consciously try to combat that by working hard to stay present and on topic. Interviewers will often take notes while you are talking, and might even grade you based on your ability to answer the specific question they asked. Staying on topic and answering the questions fully will ensure that you share everything you planned to share, and that you show the interviewer that you are focused.
5. Talk Yourself Up!
It is common for humans to feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves. Especially if you grew up in a society that values humility, statistics show that it can be difficult to speak confidently for fear that it will come off as conceited. But in reality, the interview is the place to do this! Share what you like about yourself, all the amazing things you have accomplished, and what you are proud of. Interviewers are excited to talk to students who are confident and excited to share about themselves. Even if you do not feel confident, studies have shown that even pretending to be confident tricks your brain into relaxing and acting more composed and self-assured.
6. Follow Up with a Thank You
At the end of the interview, make sure you thank your interviewer for their time. You can even ask for their contact in order to reach out later that day and thank them again. This follow up shows that you are interested in the school, and it also reminds the interviewer how awesome you are!
With a little preparation, a few deep breaths and a lot of confidence, you will crush the interview. Remember to enjoy yourself, and stay in the moment.