The Search Continues!

The Flip Side with Janel Sullivan

So, as far as college interviews go, I thought I had it down to a science. Feed ’em a line, get ’em interested, then run it.

That’s been the standard for how I’ve done my college interviews so far. But, then I went for my interview at Syracuse University. (My first choice, by the way) Though I still think the interview went well, there was a little bit of a change of pace. More direct questions, and questions that required some more thought, and a quick visit to Google. So I decided that this Flip Side should focus in on the college interview, more than the actual searching part.

Personally, I think that strong interview skills are good to have all around, not just for college. You just leave a better impression.

So let’s start with your attire. I know everyone says “Dress for Success,” and this is true. Make sure your “interview clothes” are neat and presentable, but I also think it is important for you to be comfortable.

Let’s give an example, shall we? On one interview I went to there were three girls, including me. I was wearing khaki pants, a white button down, and flats. The next girl was wearing a long, baby doll style t-shirt (that she kept tugging on), leggings and flats. The third girl came in wearing an off-white long sleeve t-shirt, and a voluminous denimish jumper (that she had to keep fixing so her underwear wouldn’t show when she sat down), and brown boots.

I have to give her snaps on the boots. They were pretty sweet. But not for an interview!

So my point with that is that out of the three of us, I was probably the most “dressed up” and one might go as far as to say “overdressed.” At least no one saw my panties, nor did I have to constantly alter the way my clothing was hanging on my body. I understand that college interviews are supposed to be casual and slightly informal, but I believe that your
clothes do make an impression. So try to look nice.

My next bit of advice is, be polite.

Stand up and shake hands when you greet the person interviewing you. Wait to be told to take a seat. (This one annoys me, but it’s just because I feel awkward standing there. Something I’ve gotta get over.) Smile. Say thank you and shake hands after the interview. And if you’re a guy, hold the door open for the ladies. (This one might just be me as well, but I like a guy who’ll hold the door open.)

And, as the Genie from Aladdin says, “Just beeeeeeeeeeee yourself!”

I know there’s the whole “you talk too much” “you don’t talk enough” thing, and trust me I LOVE to explain/justify my answers. (Like you all didn’t know that already.) I find that really it’s better to just answer the question. Do what they want your own way.

Things get complicated when they ask questions like “If your parents told you that you had to take a year off from school, what would you do with the time?”

Putting aside obvious questions like, “Why did my parents make me do such a thing?” My answer was along the lines of; “I’ve always wanted to travel, so I would definitely take the opportunity to see the world.”

The interviewer does not look impressed. I remember this school likes community service. So I add: “And while I was traveling I would take the opportunity to help poor

Oh, yes, the interviewer is smiling. She has walked into my web once again.

I think the “you talk too much” “you don’t talk enough” thing is one rule of interview etiquette that can be stretched or bent, when appropriate. I mean, how are you supposed to be yourself and let the interviewer know about you if your answers are stifled? At the same time, please, don’t tell your life story. Know the few things in your life that may need more explaining and stick to the subject.

Take my involvement in the Entergy Nuclear Science Fair. Some interviewers may ask for some background about what Entergy is, and I am happy to give it. I have found that if more explaining is required, then the person interviewing you will ask.

And there seems to be my problem with the science of interviewing. For me, it was a bit of a surprise to suddenly be at SU and I’m being conducted in a structured interview that asks questions like “what has been your biggest obstacle?” This was very different from Hamilton where the interviewer said “Oh, I see you’re in the science club. What kinds of things do you do?”

This, to me, pretty much means; “Talk about science club. Ready? Go!”

So, regarding the talking/no talking rule, I’m probably a bad person to take advice from. I’m just telling you what works for me.

Most of all, I think that if you feel confident in yourself, your appearance, and your answers, then you should be fine in an interview situation. If you’re the type of person who tends to get nervous, then look up some standard interview questions on line and practice answering them in front of a mirror or a stuffed animal army. If you talk too fast, I find that if you practice answering questions/ talking at all with Crest White Strips in your mouth, you tend to have to speak slower.

If anyone else has interview tips, or etiquette rules, please comment on the Fulton Daily News comment thingy-mah-bob. The more the merrier, and happy interviewing everyone.

1 Comment

  1. Nice job Janel. You continue to wow me with your amazing style of writing. Any school would be crazy not to grab you up. I believe that SU was your choice back in 6th grade. Keep up the good work.

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