University Interviews are something most South Africans students are not used to, but if you are looking to study in the UK and the USA, interviews play a significant part of the admissions process and can be the deciding point between acceptance and rejection. Top international universities get many more qualified applicants than they can accept, so interviews are a way of seeing if you will be a good cultural fit. Below we have put together a few steps to help you ace your interview.
It goes without saying that you should always prepare for an interview, regardless if it’s for Harvard or to work the drive-through menu at McDonald’s. By demonstrating an interest in the history of the university, it is a good way to show that you will be a good fit. Just because attending Stanford would be cool, and it will impress all your friends, that is not a good enough reason to be accepted. Failing to learn about the university is one of the most common mistake students make.
International students may or may not have the interview in person. Sometimes, the interviewers will conduct a Skype/FaceTime meeting, or have alumni meet with you at a coffee shop. Do not let this informal setting confuse you, the interviewer may be friendly and laid back, but you must be professional.
When answering questions, you need to be professional in your approach and concise in your answers. Show evidence of your successes without being arrogant and demonstrate a personality of selflessness and emotional intelligence. It's important to note that you must not have a prepared speech, which will come across as cliché, but you should have a list of points that are relevant to the university and why you will be a good fit.
Before the interview, write out your achievements and what you are most passionate about. Then clearly identify the value of those achievements and what they will bring to the university. Next, visit the school's website and see if the university has clubs, organisations or projects where you will be able to contribute in those area's. Remember your achievements need to make you stand out and show what makes you different!
CV or Resumé:
In South Africa, we use CV’s to display experience, while in the USA they use a Resumé. The nice thing about a Resumé is that it is a summary of your achievements which can be used all over the world. CV’s are going out of fashion, due to the twitterisation of the modern world. Interviewers write a recommendation to universities, by providing them with a resume it will ensure they know your skills when drafting the letter.
The interviewers look at three main things during your interview, 1) Depth of commitment to something other than academics, 2) Intellect and, 3) Personal skills. If you can clearly express something you care about, show evidence of initiative, and demonstrate thoughtfulness, you will have had a successful interview. Remember that most of the interviewers are not being paid, meaning they have given up their time to meet you! Generally, interviewers are nice; they love meeting new people and will enjoy learning from you. All you have to do is explain yourself in a clear, concise manner and they will send a positive letter to the admissions committee.
The college interview process should be a fun experience where you get to meet a person who wants to be your champion at your dream university. If you are prepared and confident, they will help you get in! So congrats if you have earned yourself an interview, just follow the points above, and you will be well on your way to acing the interview.