How to ace your college interview

Acing Your College Interview: Tips for the Introvert

At the sound of the word “interview”, there is always a mixed reaction from all who hear. There’s one party that thinks “Yes! Finally, a chance to show them how fun, engaging, and enthusiastic I am. I’m going to show them everything that my application could not show them about me. Now, where’s that shirt I kept specially for this occasion…”

Now that’s one category of people, and they are the social butterflies, or less casually put, the extroverts.

Then, there are those whose blood turn cold and go, “no no no… why do we even have to have interviews? I thought I already said everything in my application? Why must I still see them face to face? It’s not like I’m going to say anything different from what’s there. Now I have to practise eye contact, body language… arrgghh! God I hate interviews! Now, I have to go and find an appropriate thing to wear. Hmph! Story of my life!” Well, this group you can call the clams, or less casually put, the introverts.

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Now, most times, because the extroverts are the way they are, there’s hardly much work to do when prepping them for their interviews. Maybe just remind them not to talk their interviewer to death though. Otherwise, they are almost always pretty good to go. They can have an engaging, and interesting conversation very easily. It doesn’t take them anything to open up and share their passions, dreams, goals, and what nots. Introverts, on the other hand, are a little… who are we kidding? They are a lot different from that. They hate small talk and to open to up to an entirely new person, aka stranger about things that deeply matter to them, while still trying to maintain a cheerful disposition and trying to sound convincing and interesting. Wow! That’s asking a lot!

While it might look like it’s practically impossible for you to do above “meh” at your interview, dear introvert, know that it’s actually very possible for you to do amazingly well. We are not saying it will be a walk in the park, but it’s definitely not Mission Impossible either. You can have an interview experience that is as rewarding, or very close to as rewarding as the extroverts have. Now, although this article covers all the bases on all you need to know about acing your interview as an introvert, it’s not a standalone piece. We have other posts on acing your college interview that will be wise of you to peruse in order to get a more wholesome picture about all you need to know to have an excellent interview.

READ: Dressing Up for Your Interview

Now, without further ado, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of today’s gist.

Things You Want to Do Before the Interview

Here’s how you can ace your college interview as an introvert.

You Want to Organise Your Thoughts

If you want to ace your college interview, you must organise your thoughts. I wish there was a way to tell you that there’s a particular set of questions that all interviewers always ask on every interview. But unfortunately that would be highly fallacious. There’s nothing like that. Many times, interviewers like to flip the script and see how you are able to cue yourself in without skipping a beat.

Now, attempting to write down an answer for every possible question is not only a waste of time as none of the things you prepared for might even be asked. It’s equally not advisable for you too. Alright look at it this way. If you have all your answers rehearsed, there are two ways it could go. One, you could sound like a robot. Or two, you could get confused while answering because of everything you have crammed. Either way, there’s no positive outcome from doing that.

So, a better option might be to try and organize your thoughts into two groups only. That is: “acceptable to mention”, and “not acceptable to mention”. For instance, you can start thinking of the course you hope to major in and start thinking of all the reasons you love it. Think of how it relates to your interests and personality as an individual, experiences you have had that buttress your point, plus other things you might have engaged in that are related to that particular programme. Write every and anything. Don’t hold back.

Now, after you have done that, what you want to do next is to start editing. Think about your audience, which in this case is your interviewer. Think about the surrounding situation on ground, which will be your interview for a college admission. In the light of these circumstances now, you want to edit all that you have written, taking out the irrelevant parts of the things you have written down. Irrelevant things can include socially unacceptable points, deeply personal stuff, and the likes. Also, if you aren’t too sure about a particular point and you can’t confirm it well ahead of time, then just cross it out. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.

The good thing about doing this exercise is that it provides you a rich pool from which to draw out great conversation that even impress you. This way, you won’t get tongue-tied or go off the tangent.

You Want To Write it Out

Most introverts I know keep a journal. That’s because while conversing with people does not come naturally to them. Conversing with a book and a pen is a super fantastic way for them to get all talkative. Many can go for hours writing in their journals but will hardly spend five minutes talking to people, especially people they don’t know. Now this is something you can use to your advantage.

In an interview, the whole business and, in fact, the main crux of the whole discuss is to find out how the organisation in question is a good fit for you and how you are a good fit for that organisation too. That’s the bottom line of what interview seeks to achieve. So, bearing this in mind, your job becomes a lot simpler. You can now write down something that’s like a mini-manifesto of who you are and why you’re a perfect choice for that spot in the matriculating class of that year, or that scholarship (if that’s what you’re applying for).

Writing Your Manifesto

Writing your manifesto will help you ace your college interview. This essay doesn’t have to be so long but it shouldn’t be too brief either. Shoot for something around 300 words. After writing this, then you should memorise it, not word for word now, but memorise the concept, that is the entire idea of the piece. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading from a script but you want to sound confident, in control, and prepared; so try to master that write up.

The truth is that you’ll hardly ever get a question that will require you to recite your manifesto from top to bottom extempore but the bedrock to the answers of some of the questions you might be asked on that day might be embedded in that speech you drafted. So, sometimes, you might just have to remember a small portion of your speech that answers that particular question that you’re fielded, and build on it to give a more comprehensive and intelligent response.

READ: Preparing for Your College Interview

Things You Want to Do During the Interview to Ace Your College Interview

There are some things you must do if you want to ace your college interview. Another very good skill that you inherently have that might not look like an asset for an interview but is definitely a very awesome potential weapon is your ability to listen. Your natural disposition to rather listen than talk can actually help you do very well at your interview. How? Keep reading.

Many times, interviewers always leave a bit of time at the end of the interview for you to ask questions. This is where you put that listening skill to use. And please, never you say “no question”, that will be a poor waste of sweet opportunity. Also, don’t forget that your last impression is almost as equally important as your first. So, you want to leave a strong one. Asking questions when invited to is one of the best ways you can possibly do that during your interview.

What Kind of Questions Do I Ask?

The logical thing to do for most is to ask questions about the school and things like that. While that is good, it could actually be better. You can ask more open-ended questions that could get your interviewer talking. Most extroverts can’t handle this because their attention span won’t last long enough to keep them interested. You, on other hand, already have the natural inclination to listen. We say milk it!

You can ask questions such as “I really think you people are doing amazing stuff in the engineering department here and I’m really just curious but please could you tell me about what you people are currently working on?” “I read that this school has been rated number one in the country for student entrepreneurship, and that the school has a lot to do with it. In spite of the normal fear of dropping grades, what made the school decide to promote student entrepreneurship?”. You know, things like that. Of course you know that whatever questions you ask, they have to be relevant to the school you’re being interviewed for.

How to Come Up with Questions

The best way to come up with questions that sound intelligent is to have done prior research. Asking about recent happenings is usually a much better idea than asking about events that are long past. Another way to come up with these questions is to listen attentively during the interview session. The questions you’re asked might reveal one or two things that you can ask about when given the chance.

Do Not Say “No Questions”

If asked if you have any question, like we said earlier, don’t say no. That’s an unspoken rule for anyone who wants to ace their college interview. The reason you have to ask questions is that it shows that you’re genuinely interested in the school you have applied for. By showing this interest, you up your chances of getting in by a bit.

Open ended questions are always a much better option as they give the interviewer the chance to take the stage and talk at length while you sit and listen. In a way, you have taken the pressure off of you and transferred it to someone else, so you can afford to relax a little. If your interviewer’s answer gives you more material, then feel free to ask follow-up questions. Just make sure you don’t exceed the time slot you have been allocated.

Again, in asking in asking your questions, stick to those that are relevant to the interview and don’t delve into other matters else you could come off to the interviewer as nosy, and you don’t want that. Also, your questions must not give an air of arrogance, like you’ve already been selected, it could backfire and that’s something that you definitely don’t want.

So, who says you have to be an extrovert to ace at your college interview? Come on! Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So, do you and still achieve excellence. It is possible! Until next time, it’s toodles, from all of us at Effiko. May the odds be ever in your favour and don’t forget to share this post!

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