10 Ways to Blow Your College Admissions Interview

You’d be surprised how many students make these common mistakes.


A lot of students put a lot of thought into what to say and do during the college interview process. But it is equally important to know what not to do. By being aware of the dos and don’ts, you can avoid getting off on the wrong foot by distracting or annoying admissions interviewers. Remember, the college decision makers want you to do well, but if you’d prefer to put obstacles in the way of being admitted, simply commit the following faux pas.


1. Arrive 10 minutes late. The fastest way to make a bad first impression is to not be there when you’re expected. Admissions interviewers often schedule appointments back to back, so your lateness can be very disruptive to other meetings in addition to yours. Why start your college interview with one strike against you? If you can’t help running late due to unforeseen circumstances that are out of your control, be sure to call ahead to apologize and reschedule.


2. Dress down. You’re about to meet with the people who will determine your path for the next four years and beyond. Don’t let what you wear get in the way of where you want to go. Put personal comfort aside. No ripped jeans. It doesn’t take much to appear neat and well put together. No need to over dress either. When in doubt, go with business casual. Simply dress like you care. After all, you do, don’t you?


3. Show up unprepared. If you arrive at the interview empty-handed, it looks as though you didn’t care enough to know more about the school. Do some real research on the college and the particular arts program that interests you. Don’t ask the type of no-brainer questions that can be quickly answered with an online search. Show that you have a basic knowledge and that you’re curious to learn more. For example, “You offer programs in both acting and musical theater — would I be able to combine the two, and how would that work?,” or “If I am a music education major, can I still be in the orchestra or wind ensemble?”.


4. Memorize canned answers. The last thing you want to do is to come across as mechanical and rehearsed during your college interview. When you over rehearse, you sound overly artificial. It’s important to be authentic and sincere. All you have to do is listen and be yourself.


5. Use one-word responses. “Yes,” “no,” and “yeah,” are not the answers your interviewer is looking for. Answer the question fully and be sure to include the how, what, when, and/or why. You were smart enough to make it this far, so share the thinking that lead to your successes.


6. Distort the facts. College admissions officers are well trained and extremely perceptive. They’ve interviewed thousands of students, and more often than not, they’ll know immediately when you stretch the truth about academic or artistic success. Elaborate, but don’t exaggerate. And never fabricate anything!


7. Appear disinterested. If you have a mellow persona, that’s fine, but make sure you don’t come across as lacking interest in the interview process. Even if the school is not your first choice, act like it is because after the dust clears, it may be. There was something that intrigued you about the school when you applied, so focus on that and show the enthusiasm that lies beneath the surface.


8. Check your phone. Some students just can’t help themselves. It’s a habit. And during an interview, it’s a really bad one. In fact, turn your phone off. That way you won’t be tempted to look at text messages, calls, emails, or alerts. And you won’t be distracted by FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, online profiles, privacy settings, or anything else that pulls you away from your primary purpose.


9. Chew gum or candy. Your friends may not mind the chewing, but there’s no doubt that your college admissions interviewer will. So keep the gum in your pocket. Listen. Talk. But please don’t chew.


10. Have your parents answer for you. Your interviewer wants to hear from you, not your parents. If your mom and dad are doing all the talking, how can you expect the interviewer to see you as being mature enough for college? This is where you step up and represent yourself. It’s time to cut the apron strings.


Learn the dos and don’ts from former college deans of admissions. See how to prepare for success in the performing arts and visual arts with specialized guidance offered by ArtsBridge College Consultants.

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