The summer is a great season to set out visiting schools and perhaps even meet one-on-one with an admission officer for an interview. While many students have no problem putting together a boarding school application and seeking recommendations or writing a personal statement, they may gulp at the thought of actually talking to an admission officer for the required interview component. What’s the secret to acing your boarding school interview? Besides dressing comfortably yet smartly, these 5 steps will ensure you get off on the right foot and connect with your interviewer:
1. Be Yourself. It sounds cliché, but that’s because it’s true. The secret of the interview is … it’s not really an “interview” at all. It’s a conversation—a two-way exchange where the admission officer learns more about who you are as a person, and you find out about the school as a community. The most important thing about your application and interview is that you will discover if you will be a good fit for the environment and if the school will be a place where you thrive as an individual.
2. Learn about the school ahead of time. Make sure you do your research! You may be looking at several schools, but a small amount of prep work ahead of time will demonstrate that you are interested—a huge bonus point to your application. Noting the signature programs that the school offers, or bringing up a particular class or teacher that stands out to you can open a lot of doors in the conversation. Browse the school website prior to interviewing, follow the school on social media, and look for news stories or blogs written by the school community.
3. Think about your body language. The look on your face and your posture can truly make or break you from the get-go. A look of absolute boredom and slouched shoulders can set a negative tone. Your body constantly gives off signals, so be sure to demonstrate your interest and professionalism by sitting up straight, making eye contact, and smiling. Shaking hands is always a positive move, and answering questions using more than one word (yes or no) answers will help the natural flow of the conversation.
4. Ask questions. The interview is not just a chance for an admission officer to grill you on every aspect of your life; sometimes the most important pieces of the conversation come up when you simply ask the admission officer about their thoughts on a program or club at the school. Engaging the admission officer in mutual conversation shows maturity, curiosity, and personality.
5. Follow up. A simple card or e-mail following an interview can go a long way. Admission officers may meet hundreds of students in a given semester, and a personal note thanking them for their time will certainly make sure you stand out amid a swarm of thick files. Taking the time to follow up or ask any clarifying questions also demonstrates your continued interest in the school. Schools want to admit students who really want to be there, so anything you can do to convey this is a gold star in your favor.
Good luck in your interview!