How to survive your college admissions interview

How to survive your college admissions interview

Overcoming social anxiety is usually no overnight task. In fact, some never seem to overcome it. But there may be ways to reduce it or at least manage it. It may not work for everyone, but if you're going into an admissions interview for a college you should take all the advice you can get to not let anxiety ruin your chances of a successful interview.

Below are three tips for rocking an admissions interview while nervous or socially anxious.

1. Think true thoughts

According to popular author and coach Bill Cole in the e-book "Interview Success Guide," the first step to overcoming interview stress is to think true thoughts. This may demystify the interview, making it simpler to manage.

Try reflecting on one or more of the following statements, suggests Cole:

  • Interview stress is totally normal.
  • Interview stress strikes the majority of people, even experienced speakers.
  • You may never completely conquer interview stress, but you may be able to manage it.
  • The more mind tools or techniques you have to beat interview stress, the better you'll likely interview.
  • People interview fine all the time, despite suffering from interview stress during the interview itself.
  • Beating interview stress is not about being perfect or fear-free. It's about adjusting and managing your anxiety and using it as an energizer during your interview.
Don't be tricked into thinking that you're the only student nervous about the admissions interview. Many are. Realizing that may help you do better.

2. Plan, prepare and practice

It's important to eliminate as many things as possible that may worry you, according to an article by Jacquelyn Smith titled "14 Tips For Staying Calm In A Job Interview." These tips can also be applied to admissions interviews. Some ways to do this, according to Smith, are:

  • Prepare for the interview by researching the school ahead of time and writing down questions for the interviewer. This should hopefully give you more confidence during the interview.
  • Do the following well ahead of time: map out your travel route, print out all necessary documents, pick out your outfit, etc.
  • Rehearse. Answer possible questions in front of a friend or the mirror. Don't necessarily remember specific lines, but have a general answer for as many questions as you can imagine them asking. As the article points out: Practice may not make perfect but practice makes prepared.
  • Arrive early. If you must, sit in your car and prepare more for the interview there. At least you're there, not worrying about traffic or going into the interview feeling rushed.
Also, Google search to see if there have been any forum discussions or blog posts about this particular school's admission interview process. Maybe your desired school has a college admissions blog that could offer some interview insight.

3. Observe and just do it

One way to dial down anxiety and feel less awkward and anxious in social situations is through observational learning, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Bill Knaus.

"We learn vicariously," writes Dr. Knaus in an article for Psychology Today. "If you watch someone you know engage a social fear, you may imitate the best of what you saw. You may keep adding to what you observe until you routinely do better."

Perhaps watch videos of successful interviews. Searching YouTube for "successful interview techniques" brings up lots of videos with tips and clips from successful interviews. One PrepMatters video even lists the six admissions interview questions students should be prepared for, which are:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are you academic interests?
  • What are your goals after college?
  • Why are you interested in our specific school or program?
  • What are your activities outside the classroom?
  • What are your strengths and weaknessses?

Do whatever exercises you need to do to help you feel more comfortable in that admissions interview. You likely have wonderful answers to the questions. You just need to not let your nerves get in the way of communicating them effectively.

According to Cole, people who fail to conquer interview stress are "those who quit interviewing." You may be able to overcome your social anxiety or nervousness and ace any interview -- school or job. And even if you don't this time, it might make you a stronger interviewer for your next job or admissions interview.