Always Ask Questions

An interview is a two-way street. The admissions officer will ask questions such as “why this institution?” or “what are you most excited about when considering college?” You’ll want to be ready with well thought-out responses for these questions that showcase your passion, creativity, intellect, etc.

There will come a time in the interview, however, when the tables turn. The officer will ask you if you have any questions. This can be just as important a period in demonstrating your interest in the school as the first half of the interview. Simply saying, “no, I think you’ve answered all my questions” is a missed opportunity and possibly a disappointment for the admissions officer. How can you ask meaningful questions that show you off, demonstrate your interest, and get the admission officer talking about what he/she loves talking about?

There are three parts to crafting a good interview question. First, you want the question to communicate something positive about yourself. Second, you want the question to demonstrate that you have already researched the question. Third, you want to give the admission officer opportunity to say more than “yes” or “no.” Admissions officers love to talk about how awesome their school is, and they will love questions that allow them to do that.

First, start your question with information about yourself. Use this as an opportunity to show, not tell, your interviewer about your area of passion.

  • “Well, I’m very interested in pursuing fine arts, either as a major or minor. Throughout high school, I was involved in painting classes and was able to create an elective where I worked one-on-one with my teacher to attempt paintings in the styles of various masterpieces.”

Second, show that you’ve already been pursuing the answer to this question. Demonstrated interest is very important, especially at a time when schools are struggling with student yield. They want to make sure that, if they make you an admission offer, you will likely attend their institution. Demonstrated interest is one key determinant in predicting your likelihood of attendance.

  • “I’ve spent some time researching your fine arts department online and learned that every spring, students post their artwork in the student union.”

Third, pose the question so that the admissions officer can brag about his/her school. Phrase the question in an open-ended fashion, not answerable with a simple “yes” or “no.” Also, don’t ask questions that seem to attack the institution or put the officer on the defensive.

  • “I’m interested to know in what other ways X college encourages artistic creativity and showcases student artwork.”

An interview will seldom see an unqualified candidate suddenly transformed into a competitive one. High school GPA, curriculum, and standardized test scores are still the most important factors in the admission process. A solid interview can, however, help students who are in the middle and in need of an outspoken advocate on the inside. By demonstrating your abilities and passions, your interest in the particular school, and your interest in the admissions officer, you can help the interview to become a positive component of your application.

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