Occasionally, in the course of growing toward full personhood, nearly every young adult confronts an admissions interviewer or two, sometimes for summer camp or job, for admission to an independent school, possibly as part of the application process for admission to college. Although applicant motivations vary somewhat, most actually want to make a good first impression. With that in mind, we want to share a few thoughts that might be helpful in achieving a successful interview.
- First, dress well and present yourself in the least controversial way possible. (Don’t assume that the interviewer will be impressed by your nose ring.)
- When in doubt, upgrade your wardrobe choices beyond expectation, if only as a sign of respect.
- Appear at the interview site ten minutes early, rather than one minute late.
- When accompanied by one or both parents, make an effort to avoid combative interactions, at least for that brief, forty-minute exercise in civility.
- If you are taken on tour by an already-enrolled student, be aware that the guide is a NARC! Any disparaging or inappropriate utterances by you will be dutifully reported following the tour. “So, do they check your room all the time, or leave you pretty much alone?”
- On tour and in the admissions office, hold doors for elders – including your mother – and avoid questions that make you look like an imbecile: “So, does M.I.T. have a good math department?” (Some time spent reading the institution’s catalogue before the interview can help reduce the frequency and intensity of such glaring blunders.)
- In the admissions office, stand up when the interviewer enters the room. Make eye contact as you shake hands – firmly, but not maniacally so. (Years ago, when this writer was an admissions officer, a slouching, disheveled athletic-type appeared in the office, but chose to remain slumped in his seat long after I greeted his standing parents. As they attempted to introduce me, the lad lifted a limp hand from deep in the cushions. I had to act quickly. Leaning forward, I put a death-grip on that hand and, at the same instant, pulled the candidate unceremoniously to his feet, eyes bulging. Nothing more was said, and the rest of the interview went well. Four years later, that student thanked me for the lift – at graduation, just before heading to the United States Naval Academy.)
- Following the interview, get the name and address of both the tour guide and the interviewer. Send a note or email to both, with thanks for their effort. The exercise will distinguish you as one of few who take the time to do the right thing. A copy of your note(s) will be placed in your admissions file, which will be reviewed favorably at a later date.
CARTER P. REESE
Director, Informed Educational Solutions
- Cheating at Harvard Exposes an Admissions Game – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)