4 Things Admissions Officers Are Looking for in Your Interview

Your applications are in, you’re eagerly awaiting acceptances and you’ve even landed an interview or two ––you’re off to a great start! But, now that your interviews are just around the corner, you may be wondering what admissions officers are really looking for. Do you need an extensive resume? Should you have facts about the school memorized? We talked to Lauren Herskovic, chief operating officer at Admissionado, to find out what exactly college admissions officers are looking for in your interview.

Before you freak out, take some words of advice from Herskovic. “The truth is, the interview is not always with an admissions committee member,” she says. “In some (or many!) cases, it is with an alum and, oftentimes, a recent alum. That should instantly make you feel a little less stressed about the whole thing. But even if you are speaking directly to someone on admissions, the interview will not be as scary as you’re imagining it to be.” College admissions interviews exist so the admission committee can get to know you better ––so relax, and read up on what you should know.

1. Have some knowledge about the school

It goes without saying that if you’re interviewing for a school, you should know at least a few basics about it. Know what program you’re interested in, when the school was founded and maybe even a fun fact or two!

“You don't want to go in there, sit down and start spewing off stats and figures about the school just to prove you've done your homework,” Herskovic says. “But, if you happen to know things about the school (and we're talking much more specifically than what you can find on the school's website), you can work those things into the conversation naturally.” She suggests asking questions about a specific program or working your excitement about a specific professor into one of your answers. Showing the admissions officer you’re passionate about the school will help you stand out among a sea of interviewees.

2. Connect with your interviewer

It’s key to bond with the person who’s interviewing you. If you act detached and uninterested, it’s not going to go well. You want to show them you’re serious about going there! “They want to like you and to actually see you on campus,” Herskovic says. “If that happens, they’re going to fight for you.” Make sure you’re being authentic and engaging in conversation.

Herskovic suggests doing some research on your interviewer, asking questions and just relaxing! “And by the way, if the conversation flows away from the topics you were expecting to discuss (your resume, your transcript, the school, the books you've read in the past month, etc.), that's okay,” she says. It’s actually a good thing, so just let it happen!

3. Show who you really are

The interviewer know what you look like on paper, but what about in real life? In the interview room, show off what you couldn’t on your application or resume.

“The interviewers know that your application and essays probably went through 10,000 iterations before it got to them,” Herskovic says. “So, now it’s their chance to see who you are on the fly and to get to know you as a person.” The interviewer also wants to know you were being truthful in your application. Be mature and honest, and you’ll be in the clear.

“They want to see what kind of roommate you will be (for real, this is something Harvard interviewers specifically look for), what kind of perspective you will bring to campus, and how you'll interact with the diverse student body,” Herskovic says. “ Don't try and be someone that you are not. If something makes you laugh, laugh. If you're really passionate about something they ask about, speak passionately about it.” Don’t hide who you are! It’s going to hurt your interview experience.

Related: 6 Ways to Stand Out in Your College Interview

4. Be authentic

Don’t try and use SAT words in a sentence. “They know you are a 17-year-old student with big dreams, some fun interests and an obsession with Snapchat,” Herskovic says. “You should not try to put on airs to impress anyone. Not only will they see right through it, but that’s not what they want!” Just be yourself!

Herskovic says that the best interviews are natural conversations. “It’s more of a chat between two people than a Q&A session,” she says. “So, yes, you should absolutely prepare (including coming up with some questions of your own that you’d like to ask!), but don’t memorize answers or, worse, your resume.” Be polished, confident and well-mannered, but not robotic.

As we said earlier, the interviewer simply wants to get to know you! Remember, it’s a conversation between person A and person B. Take a deep breath and relax ––we know you’re going to kill it, collegiette!