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Most Common Mistakes in College Interviews

The college interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in the process, as it is the only "face time" you will have with the school. First impressions are the only impressions here, so read this list to find out what not to do when you are called for the thirty-minute conversation.

  1. Lack of Preparation
    • Explanation: It shows when you don't do your homework on a school prior to speaking with one of its representatives. You want to appear knowledgeable enough about a school to have applied to it. No school wants to accept someone who doesn't really care where he/she goes.
    • Fix: Prior to the interview, read some literature about the school, look on its websites, know some names of professors, friends, people and programs associated with the name.
  2. Tardiness
    • Explanation: Arriving late to an interview sets a horrible tone. It makes you appear irresponsible, apathetic, and lazy.
    • Fix: Visit the site of the interview a day or two in advance so you know how to get there for the big day. Then, give yourself at least 30-45 minutes of extra traveling time.
  3. Gum-Chewing
    • Explanation: Gum-chewing is a nasty habit and completely unprofessional. It may be true that most people do chew gum. However there is a time and a place, and the college interview is neither.
    • Fix: Do not purchase gum around the time of your interview. Spit it out before walking into the room.
  4. Inappropriate Dress
    • Explanation: While many schools have a different level of professional attire, it is always better to be slightly more formal than casual. You do not want to appear lazy or unkempt.
    • Fix: Ask peers what they have worn to your particular school's interview. If the interview is at the school, wear a suit. If the interview is at a private home, you can dress down a bit more. No jeans. No sandals.
  5. Insults
    • Explanation: The worst thing you can do is put down the school to which you are applying. Be careful of the words that come out of your mouth.
    • Fix: Unfortunately, it is difficult to fix slips of the tongue in short interviews. Think before you speak!
  6. Lack of Eye Contact
    • Explanation: Eye contact is important, for it shows commitment and professionalism. Too much eye contact can be disturbing, however.
    • Fix: At least once or twice during your interview, look directly into the interviewee's eyes while you are speaking. Do not look away when he/she is speaking directly to you.
  7. Silence
    • Explanation: Silence can be awkward in interviews. At the same time, it is an inevitability when first meeting someone new whom you want to impress.
    • Fix: Have questions and comments prepared in case there is a moment of silence. This way, you will keep the conversation running throughout the time allotted.
  8. No Questions
    • Explanation: Without prepared questions, many prospective students look disinterested. Interviews are not a one-way street. You are interviewing the college just as much as it is interviewing you. Find out everything you need to know, as well.
    • Fix: Make a list of at least ten questions. Write them down on a piece of paper and stick it in your pocket. You'll probably use only one or two of them; but it is helpful to have many prepared.
  9. Fakeness
    • Explanation: The appearance of falsehood or fakeness can damage someone's opinion of you, consequently hurting your overall application.
    • Fix: Always tell the truth. People will respect your honesty over any other sort of sentiment.
  10. Apathy
    • Explanation: Without any sort of emotional or intellectual attachment to the interview, you will leave the interviewee with negative thoughts on your behalf. You want to see extremely interested in the school, without appearing needy and desperate. Yes, it is a difficult fine line to balance.
    • Fix: Make sure you have comments prepared that make you seem interested in the school. Practice them so that they do not come out of your mouth in the "wrong way."