A Behind the Scenes Look at Interview Practice

Job Applicant Having An Interview

In January, most college applications are completed and we turn our attention to interviews for college admissions and scholarships. While most families (and students) are deeply concerned about the interview process, it is a skill that can be developed and can ultimately be a fun experience! I often do a crash course with students in a live mock interview situation.

Here are the things I’m concentrating on as we work together. I am listening for:

  • Confirmation that the student “on paper” is the same student sitting in front of me.
  • Validation that they display the qualities sought by the college or scholarship program.
  • An awareness of their contribution to the world and why they do what they do. The interview isn’t the place to give a rote repetition of their resume, but the opportunity to elaborate and explain themselves and their choices.
  • A demonstrated maturity that the student has learned from mistakes and moved forward.
  • A caring individual who realizes the world doesn’t revolve around themselves.
  • An understanding of current events.
  • A clarity of how others perceive them.
  • The self-knowledge of what is important or valuable to them and why.
  • Well-reasoned answers that show the teen thinks deeply and is self-aware.
  • An urgency in the voice that proves this student honestly cares about something. The word “passion” is overused today, but that is what I want to see, hear, and experience when I talk with a teen. I want to know what lights up their world and pulls them out of bed in the morning.

I am watching for:

  • Verbal pauses – uh, ohm, yeah, so. These show me the level of the student’s discomfort as well as their ability (or inability) to articulate.
  • Unconscious mannerisms: making faces when unsure of an answer, rolling their eyes, biting their lip, playing with hair, clothing, or jewelry. Often kids are unaware they are broadcasting their nervousness.
  • A smile. Interviews aren’t meant to be intense gauntlets. The student who smiles frequently communicates that they are comfortable in their skin and they are enjoying the interviewer’s company. Laughter over mistakes can actually make the mistake go away. As your student faces interviews during this busy season, keep these tips in mind. They will help kids know what is expected of them and aid them in preparation.

 

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