Top 5 Ways NOT to Embarrass Yourself during a College Admissions Interview

Are you wearing mismatched socks? Well, you are obviously NOT Princeton material.

The College Admissions Interview is an opportunity for you to be more than a GPA and list of qualifications and accomplishments. However, in the world of high-stakes academia an incidental misstep or poor Admission Interview can spell disaster. Most interview blunders can be prevented with a little common sense, preparation, and fastidious hygiene. College Compass is happy to present its readers with the Top 5 Ways NOT to Embarrass Yourself During a College Admissions Interview.

#5) Dress for Success!

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Remember that you will only have one chance to make a first impression, don’t blow it! Shorts, ball cap, and flip flops are a BIG no-no! If you want somebody to take you seriously, dress seriously.

How much should you dress up? For the guys, you should be more formal than a t-shirt, but less formal than a tuxedo. Anything from dark jeans and a button down shirt to dress pants and a sports jacket can be acceptable for an interview. For the girls, you can actually follow similar guidelines with the additional warning not to wear anything too extravagant. You want them to focus on what you are saying, not what you are wearing!

“Should I shave?”

Get a haircut, hippie.

This is a personal choice. In decades past, the well-dressed man was clean shaven, with his hair parted, but in 2013, when men devote a whole month to growing their facial hair for prostate cancer awareness (Movember), a well-groomed “mane” can be acceptable. However you decide to wear your face, just make sure it is trimmed and neat. You don’t want to appear as if you were rescued from an abandoned island with only a volleyball named Wilson to talk to.

“Should I bathe?”

Tom Hanks in Cast Away
No, YOU get a haircut!

YES. And wear deodorant. And brush your teeth. And don’t pick your nose. Gross.

#4) Be prepared for questions about your past; be prepared with questions of your own.

“What kind of questions will they ask me?”

Despicable Me? Despicable You!
“I see here you’ve won the Medal of Honor AND a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Inevitably, an admissions officer will want to talk about the past, specifically YOUR past. Look over the resume you submitted (it goes without saying, but DO NOT LIE ON YOUR RESUME) and be prepared to talk about past jobs, recommendations, accomplishments, etc. Focus on what you have accomplished, but answer questions in a way that expresses how those experiences will translate into you being a productive student at the university you are applying to.

A great way to prepare for an important interview is to anticipate these questions and rehearse your answers beforehand (And yes, this means talking out loud to yourself or a friend prior to the interview). You will seem prepared and articulate during the interview.

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“What are you interviewing for?”

In a way, you are interviewing the university as well. This does not mean you should approach your interview with a “You need to impress me” attitude; that would be disastrous. At the same time, thoughtful questions show you are willing to take an active role in your education and development. Examples include: What is the department’s graduation rate? What are the university’s post-graduation employment statistics? What kind of alumni network does the university foster?

Take the time to research the university before the interview. Be familiar with the major and department you are interviewing for, research any notable press they have received, and be able to articulate not just why you are passionate about being admitted, but how you can benefit this already prestigious institution.

This post is part of a series. Find links to the other articles in this series below:

Top 5 Ways NOT to Embarrass Yourself during a College Admissions Interview – Part II

Top 5 Ways NOT to Embarrass Yourself during a College Admissions Interview – Part III


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