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Preparation and Interview Techniques for College That Really Work

written by: Anne Vize•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/6/2011

Are you stressing about college interviews? Are you worried you might forget everything at the crucial moment? Never fear - try these tips on college interviews that really work. Most have stood the test of time, and have got many a stressed out college applicant out of hot water when needed!

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    Get Ready...

    The first stage in making sure you do well in a college interview (or any other interview for that matter) is to go through the 'Get Ready' stage. This is where you do the hard yards in terms of preparation. Just like studying for tests, it is no good leaving everything until the last minute and then race into an interview situation unprepared. Here's what you need to do:

    Plan what needs to be written and presented and be sure to do it early. Do you have an essay or personal reflective piece of writing to prepare and submit? Then be sure to do it well ahead of time, and save it to your computer hard drive and a memory stick as well as printing out a hard copy. Then if something happens to your computer, you still have a printed copy that you can scan or retype as needed.

    Prepare your clothes for the big day. Think 'casual, but dressed to impress' in the same combination. Nothing revealing, nothing too fancy, just neat, well cut and tidy.

    Check your directions if you are headed someplace unfamiliar. This is not a time to be mucking around with a street directory or GPS instructions on the way there!

    Think about what you might be asked and prepare some logical answers in your head. Avoid writing too much down beforehand or you risk confusing yourself, and making your verbal answers sound rehearsed and forced.

    Plan for contingencies such as the car breaking down, being called away at the last minute, or receiving a phone call on your mobile phone (switch it off before you go in for an interview).

    Get some family or other support on board - this is a great time for having someone else in your corner! Being able to enlist support for dealing with stress is an important life and work skill.

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    Get Set...

    The next stage in preparing for college interviews is to get set with some verbal skills - just as you will do as you begin looking to the world of work and job interviews. Try these:

    Work on voice pitch and tone so you have a speaking voice which sounds fairly low in pitch and is easy for others to listen to. Sometimes nerves can make our voice higher in pitch and that can be hard on an interviewer's ear.

    Slow your speaking rate down so you pronounce each word clearly and insert some pauses into your speech. Again, nerves can increase speech rate and make our words hard to understand. A clear, low and slower speaking voice means your important ideas and comments are not lost or misunderstood.

    Practice looking at yourself in the mirror as you speak and checking that you do not have any habits of which you are unaware (such as licking your lips, fiddling with your necklace, twitching your eyes or scratching your nose) that could be distracting or disconcerting for an interviewer. Remember, what you have to say is important and you don't want any of it to be missed.

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    Go...!

    The last of the college interview tips is to go strong! You have done the hard work of preparation prior to your college interviews, so now it is time to get in there and go for it. Get a good night sleep, try to relax, then leave yourself plenty of time to rehearse your thoughts beforehand.

    Project confidence through confident and assertive body language (even if you don't feel it inside) and make sure you use your clear speaking voice and well thought out answers to all those tricky questions that can come up in college interviews. Use lots of positive self talk so you feel good about yourself - it is sure to shine through to others if you do.

    And remember, ultimately interviewers are just people too - the last thing they want is for you to feel bad, or come away from the experience thinking you did not do well. It is simply not in the interests of college interviewers to make any young person feel bad about themselves - by and large they want what is best for all young people who are aiming to attend college.

    Good luck with your college interviews, and hopefully these tips for college interviews will help you reach your goals!






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