The mere mention of the word is enough to elicit cold sweats even from the most experienced, middle-aged job seeker…so how is a university hopeful soul meant to nail an interview? By following some thoughtful insider tips, that’s how!
University admission interviews can be daunting, yet preparing for and nailing them is not all that difficult. Why? Because the hardest part is over. If they have invited you to interview, it means you impressed them with your application and have serious chances of being admitted. All you have to do now is impress them with your sparkling and prodigious personality.
Nah, just kidding…with your academic prowess, maturity, enthusiasm, and self-confidence.
No matter where you’re from, whether you studied in a Shanghai international school and are applying to a foreign university, or are applying to a university in your home country, here’s how to prepare for and NAIL your much-awaited university interview.
Many things in life can be improvised, but your university interview is not one of them. Mainly because fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants success needs steely nerves and an abundance of confidence and, at school-leaving age, you’ve arguably had very little chance to perfect both. So, prepare instead. Expect there to be questions about why you wish to attend that university, tackle that specific course, and more importantly, why you think you have the skills and aptitude to succeed in your chosen field.
In essence, you need to appreciate that universities rely on the success of their students. In an interview, they want to feel as if they’re backing a winning horse, so all you need to do is show them you’ll be a priceless asset for them in years to come. The best way to do this is to know everything about the university, what it stands for, what it offers, and how you will make a positive impact.
Having to apologize for your tardiness because you got stuck in traffic or missed the train is not a great way to nail your university interview. Get there early! If anything, it’ll give your nerves plenty of time to settle down.
Dress the Part
First impressions are absolutely crucial, so you will want to get this right. Like it or not, all respectable universities have an image to uphold, and if you want to be a part of the team, you need to look like you already are.
Given we’re way past the 1990s, there’s no need to wear a 3-piece suit – smart casual in neutral colors is a perfect choice. Team that with a neat and simple hairstyle and comfortable, flat shoes. Basically, wear nothing that screams out loud – the focus shouldn’t be on your crazy hairdo or your iridescent clothing.
Interviewing remotely? Please don’t forget to wear pants, and you certainly don’t want to become a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons!
Sit up Straight
Oops, your mum has been right all along! Don’t slouch. Sit up straight and position your chair so you’re facing and mirroring the seated position of your interviewer. Body language counts, so make sure your body looks like it’s thrilled to be there!
Mind your Manners
This one’s a no-brainer: don’t interrupt or talk over your interviewer, never raise your voice and give considerate thanks at the end of the interview. Usually, we’d recommend you offer a firm handshake when you first walk into the interview room but, in times of COVID, you need to be mindful of close contact. The best recourse here is to take your cues from the person interviewing you – they are doing this day in, day out, so let them lead you.
Finding that perfect balance between humility and boastfulness can be tricky, but remember you are there to impress. Be confident when speaking about your stellar achievements, your skills, and your career and life goals. Being prepared will help you answer the hardest questions!
Nailing university interviews also means being honest about failures and challenges you’ve faced. From here on in, remember that interviewers will always be more interested in what you learned from your mistakes, not why or how the mistake happened.
Don’t be Afraid to Show your Personality
Experienced interviewers attest that any applicant who can make them smile or laugh gets ten extra brownie points. No need to practice your stand-up routine! Just know that a fabulous disposition, enthusiasm, and ready-wit should never be suppressed.
If that sounds like you, then don’t be afraid to show you.
Much like job interviews, university interviews should ideally go both ways. Prepare a few thoughtful questions of your own that can’t be easily answered by looking up the university’s website – be it about internships, extracurricular activities, or perhaps even a recent event/achievement of the university.
Show Maturity & Independence
Maturity can be expressed in many ways. When it comes to preparing for and nailing university interviews, it means going at it confidently and on your own. Your parents may well take you to the interview, and they’ve probably been heavily involved in your entire admission process…but the interview is something they should stay out of.
This is your thing. Show your parents and the interviewer that you’re mature and confident by taking charge of your interview and, by consequence, your future.
Send a Follow-up Thank-You Note
This smallest of gestures will be immensely appreciated!
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