How to Ace Your Admission Interview

What Admission Directors Wish You Knew

Just about every private school requires an interview as part of the admission process. The admission interview is an opportunity for students to show admission officers who they are, what they like, and how they can contribute to the school community. These personal interactions, which are often done in person during campus visits (though some schools will conduct interviews via Skype or Facetime for students who are unable to travel to the school's campus), can mean the difference between getting in and getting waitlisted or denied at top private schools

Want to know the secret to success? Two admission directors weigh in with their best advice to candidates preparing to engage in interviews. Here's what Penny Rogers, Director of Admissions & Marketing at the Academy at the Lakes in Florida and Kristen Mariotti, Director of Admission and Enrollment at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in California had to say:

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Know How to Greet People

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"Smile, make eye contact, and give a firm handshake."

Ever hear that saying that you only get one shot at making a good first impression? It's true, and private school applicants need to know how to properly introduce themselves. An admission director does not want to meet an applicant who seems disinterested. Take the time to properly say hello and show that you care, have confidence, and know how to shake someone's hand. It doesn't get much easier than that. 

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Be Yourself

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"Don't be shy to talk about your accomplishments and what makes you stand out. We won't think you are bragging; we want to know all of the great things about you!" 

It's important to show who you are to the school that you're applying to, and that means being true to yourself and talking about yourself. Don't pretend to be interested in something that you're not, as the school wants to know you, the real you. You're unique and if you enroll at the school, you will bring something special to the community. So, make sure that the schools what it is that you will contribute. Your admission officer can't get to know you if you're not willing to talk about yourself!

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Show Your Interest

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"Let us know you want to be a part of our School community! Know a little bit about us and tell us why you are interested." 

No admission officer enjoys talking to a student who isn't interested in a school. While yes, it happens that sometimes applying to a school is the parents' idea, and not the student's, it's always better to be enthusiastic about the school to which you are applying.

It also helps to know something about the School. Don't ask obvious questions that can easily be found online. Do your homework.  A great way to show you know the school and are interested is to ask for MORE information about a program, class, club or sport that you're interested in. Know a fact or two about the program, but ask for additional details. Specific questions are best, but any questions can show your interest and dedication to the school.   

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Ask Questions

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"You are interviewing the School as much as the School is interviewing you, so be sure to have two or three great questions to ask that will help you further determine if you have found the right fit."  

The private schools that you apply to will be asking you questions to see if you're a good fit, and as the candidate, you need to do the same. Many students get caught up in the excitement of applying to a school because of its reputation or because friends are also applying, but then discover in their first year after enrolling, that they really aren't happy. Take the time to ask questions about the school community, student body, activities, dorm life, and even the food. You need to know that the school is the right fit for you, also. 

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Be Honest

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"If you have something in your application that may seem like a red flag, like a bad grade or a lot of absences, there is probably an explanation, so be prepared to talk about it."

Being honest in your interview is rule number one, and it means being upfront about even something that may be negative. Sometimes, sharing information about your situation can help the school determine if they can truly meet your needs, and can help the school better understand your situation. Hiding information can lead to a negative school experience, and can hurt the student's chances for success. Schools regularly handle confidential material, including medical information, learning differences information, testing, discipline records, recommendations, and more, so you can be confident that your information is kept secure and handled properly. Plus, being truthful shows great character, and that's one personality trait that private schools value in their students, and their parents.

Acing your interview is easier than you thought.

Consider these five pieces advice, and you'll be on your way to having the best private school experience possible.