How to Prepare for the Virtual College Interview
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
You might think virtual interviews are less stressful than in-person interviews, but you still need to make a good impression. The key to a good impression is preparation.
Take some time well before (several days, not hours!) the interview to prepare.
Prepare to share
Anticipate that your interviewer may know nothing about you. They will likely not have your admission file in front of them, so be prepared to share details about yourself. If you have a resume, offer to send it ahead of time. Think about your answers ahead of time. Practice them out loud.
When you answer questions, be sure to elaborate. If you are asked what your favorite book is, provide more information than the title. Explain why the book is important to you.
Here some common interview questions
Tell me about your school-what do you like, what do you dislike about your school?
How do you study?
Tell me about any academic pursuits outside of the classroom.
What activities are the most important to you?
Tell me about disappointments in your school career or life so far?
What did you do this past summer?
How would your friends describe you, your strengths and weaknesses?
What current event has sparked your interest?
Why are you interested in applying to XYZ school? If you wrote a “Why X college” essay for the school, revisit it.
One question you do not need to expand on is: What other colleges have you applied to?
In this case, an indirect response is totally appropriate. You can say you are considering several options and are excited to learn more about their college.
Here are two great resources that will help clarify your answers to the type of questions you will be asked.
The College Essay Guy’s Interview Guide (email required)
Prepare to ask
Prepare a list of specific questions to ask your interviewer (emphasis on “specific”).
Your questions are just as important as your answers to their questions. Your questions demonstrate your level of interest, your intellectual curiosity, and how you will fit into the campus culture.
As you think about what questions to ask, consider your audience -- who is your interviewer? If it is an alumnus, consider that they may not have been on campus for several years, so best not to ask about the new athletic facility. Instead, ask them why they chose to attend the college and the major they chose. Ask about the alumni network in your area and the career opportunities.
If you are meeting with someone from admissions you might ask:
What percentage of students come back after freshman year?
Can you tell me some things about ____________ program/major?
What makes _________ program/major a good one?
What social options are available if I don’t join a fraternity/sorority? (for colleges with Greek systems)
What campus issues are students talking about this year?
How involved are students in extracurricular activities? Do most students stay on campus during the weekends?
Prepare your presence
You want to make a good impression, even when on video.
Check your background
Do all the tech checks -- audio, lighting, internet connectivity
Prepare to engage
When you are in the interview, make eye contact. This can be tricky when on video, but it is an important part of creating rapport. Try to look at the camera in order to engage with your interviewer. Provide verbal feedback to indicate interest. Use their name in conversation or responsive comments such as, “Oh, that’s a good point.”
Prepare your thank you email
Finally, say thank you -- both at the end of the interview and then with a follow-up email. Don't put this final step off. Interviewers will provide their feedback pretty quickly after the interview. When you thank them for their time, mention a few points you were happy to learn from them about the college. Leave them with a great impression!
Related Post: What You Need to Know About College Interviews
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