By Kavitta B Bedi, Co-founder and CEO, Xtraview
During admission seasons, there are thousands of applications to scour through. Amidst all the essays, test scores, recommendation letters, and more, an interview is an excellent way to make a lasting impression and differentiate yourself from other candidates.
Some schools have interviews with members of the admissions staff or professors and others with an alumnus or other members of the staff. Some have no interviews at all.
With an interview being an integral part of the process, students wonder what an interview means about their chance of admission and the importance of the pre-admission interviews. We’ll answer this eventually, but let’s start with the basics.
What is the purpose of an interview?
An interview has numerous purposes. For starters, there’s a face behind the name of the application. It personalizes you as a candidate and gives you the opportunity to share information about yourself beyond what’s listed on your transcript. While everything looks good on paper, the interview lets you talk the talk as well. This ensures you’re well-rounded.
How much do interviews matter?
This is a hard one with no direct answer. Typically, you’re selected based on multiple factors, including the interview and not solely the interview. Some institutes like the University of Pennsylvania are vocal about the process. They say that interviews help the school get to know you better as a candidate and vice versa. Penn alumni volunteers conduct this two-way exchange and a written summary is included in your application material. Princeton University has a similar approach. The primary motive is to provide more insight and information about the university.
In order to really read into the role and importance, you need to look into the interview process at different schools of your choice.
Importance of interviews for admissions officers and students.
As rightly said by the University of Penn and Princeton University, interviews are a means of communication and conversation that give one another deeper perceptions of likes, dislikes, qualities, and more.
One of the factors that make interviews important is communication skills.
Take a college in the United States, for instance, seas of students from all over the world apply. On a daily basis, students need to mingle with professors or other students. And not every country has English as the official language. There are many ways to gauge English proficiency, one is IELTS/TOEFL exams, and the other is interviews.
During an interview, the admissions officers want to ensure all students have the level of English communication skills necessary to be successful at the institution. The interview goes beyond merely scoring. The interviewer really wants to determine if the student can have a fully immersive college experience, be it participating in class, interacting with the faculty, or with friends.
The three-dimensional aspect – as a being, you’re not two-dimensional. Admissions officers need to know who is going to show up on that first day of college.
Although a leading criterion for institutions is academic success, that’s not all they look for. Most admission processes are holistic. Meaning, when an admission officer reviews an application, they look not only at one aspect of your application but a broad range of categories like test scores, transcripts, essays, extra-curricular activities, recommendation letters, etc. This is done as it’s important to build a class of students who contribute to the community, both outside and inside the walls of the class.
Everything about you that the admissions officer reads is “two-dimensional” or “on paper.” During the interview, you breathe life into the two-dimensional façade as well as tie your entire persona and hard work together. You can explain what you did with your curiosity, what you did with your activities, and what you did with your academics.
In essence, an admissions officer is less likely to comprehend your personal story. The interview is your time to tell your story, fill in the details, and provide nuance and context to all pieces of your application so one can connect the dots.
Tip: What ends up mattering the most to admissions officers? Unlike what you think, it’s not as much to do with the content. It’s more about the feeling of getting to know you.
Preparing for the soft skills you need for the interview…and for life!
The wonderful thing about preparing for an interview is the skills you require for it are what you will use in real life, now and in the years to come.
As soon as you arrive on campus, you will interview – to be a part of an internship, a research opportunity, or a school club. In the long run, for your dream job.
Don’t let this scare you. As with many things in life, you need a little patience and a whole of commitment. What helps is professional guidance. Some experienced workshops like The Xtraprep Digital Interaction Workshop. The workshop is designed solely for this purpose. They work on boosting confidence, improving public speaking skills, giving you tips to succeed in interviews, and even the chance to interview with an expert interviewer. By the end of it, you’ll feel like a seasoned interviewer.
You may have seen the interview process as a hurdle during applications, but once you’re done, you’ll see it was one of the most insightful bits of the tasks – both in preparing for real life as well as standing out in the eyes and minds of the interviewers.
Time to put your best foot forward, muster up the courage, and ace that interview. Good luck!