Congratulations! You’ve got an admissions interview, a key component in determining your enrollment in a school. The admissions interview offers the school the opportunity to get to know you beyond the application, so it’s important to make a good impression.
Your etiquette at the interview could make or break the final decision regarding acceptance into the school. A candidate with a borderline application could tip the scales in her favor by having a successful interview. On the other hand, an applicant with a straight-A transcript can sabotage his interview with bad behavior. To maximize your chances of success, we’ve compiled admissions interview etiquette every candidate should know.
Arrive On Time
Nothing makes a worst first impression than arriving late. Know where your interview is, and arrive at the interview office at least 15 minutes early. Look up directions beforehand and print out maps or use a navigation device. Assume you’ll hit traffic or have difficulty finding parking.
Remember this is not a fashion show, so dress conservatively. Dark blue or black outfits with button down white shirts are ideal for both men and women. Ban the flip flops, and instead wear closed-cover shoes. Minimize jewelry and other accessories, including removal of earrings for men. Avoid clothes with obvious brand logos and outfits with loud patterns.
Do not wear cologne, perfume, body spray or strongly-scented body lotion as these can cause headaches or nausea in people sensitive to smells. As basic as this may seem, always use deodorant. Assume even if you can’t smell yourself, other people can. You want the admissions officer to remember your positive attributes, not the body odor left lingering in his office.
Be Courteous to Everyone
Treat people the same whether they be the secretaries, students, or custodians. Your behavior reflects your personal values, and how you’ll behave at the school if admitted. You never know who the interviewer is friends with, and rude or likewise courteous behavior can impact perceptions about you.
Show your confidence and people skills by looking others in the eye and standing or sitting up straight. Use a firm hand shake – your hand should not crush the other person’s hand, but should also not be like a limp dead fish.
Don’t Chew Anything
This pertains to gum, candy, mints or even the pen you may be holding. Chomping sounds are distracting and unprofessional.
Turn Off Electronic Devices
Don’t be that guy whose phone rings in the middle of the interview. If that happens, then you may be seen as the guy who leaves his phone on during classes or during future job interviews when you are representing the school.
Research the school beforehand to know the basics about its philosophy and mission. Know why you want to attend the school, and how getting your education there will achieve your goals. Review your application to remember highlights, and have a copy of your resume handy.
Don’t rip on anyone else – other schools, past interviews you’ve had, other people, and so forth. It’s a bad reflection on you and makes the interviewer think you may talk about him or the school behind their backs. After the interview, do not criticize schools and interviewers on social media. Tweets are public, and Facebook posts are, too, if your privacy settings aren’t set correctly.
At the end of the interview, thank the admissions officer verbally and with a hand shake. After the interview, immediately send a thank you note. Though sending thanks via old fashion snail mail has been the norm, nowadays it is acceptable – and faster – to send an email. Saying thanks shows you’re interested in the school and valued the interviewer’s time.
To make sure you’re prepared for your admissions interview, bookmark this page on your website for reference or print and bring it with you to the interview to keep these etiquette tips fresh in your mind.
Maria Wen Adcock, a former college admissions counselor at New York College of Health Professions, has many years of experience mentoring and recruiting students for the corporate world. She is also a former marketing executive at Time Warner, Condé Nast, Sara Lee Corporation and General Mills.