Oberlin Blogs

Interview! We Hardly Know You!

August 29, 2020

Cora K. Hasegawa ’19

I encourage every student who is able to complete an interview. Some colleges require them, so be sure to check the application requirements for each college you might be interested in so you can be sure to plan ahead. At Oberlin, interviews are optional but they are an opportunity to get to talk with someone one-on-one and ask whatever questions you want. Interviews also help admissions counselors get a sense of who you are and add to the portrait of you that your recommendations and essays paint. Interviews are not something you should be afraid of, so I’m here to provide you with some advice on how to ace all your college interviews. 

  1. Research the college/university. Nothing is more disheartening to an interviewer than learning that the student knows nothing about the college five minutes into the conversation. Browse the school’s website. Find out if they offer the major you might want to pursue or any clubs you might be interested in. You by no means have to become an expert on the college, but even general information from the pamphlets in the lobby can give you a good sense of what the college can offer you.
  2. Prepare questions to ask. Interviewers expect you to have questions. In fact, I expect to spend most of the interview answering your questions. To me, this shows that you have done your research and that you are interested in Oberlin. The questions don’t have to be specific or brilliant, just two or three to keep the conversation going and clue me into what you might want to know more about. A question as simple as “What do students do for fun?” or “Can you tell me anything about this department?” can help us figure out what might interest you about our school. 
  3. Prepare for questions. Simple answers, especially yes or no answers, are the death of an interview. An interview should be like a conversation, but that conversation becomes easier when you have a few handy answers ready to go. Before you go into your interview, ask yourself, what are the five things you want your interviewer to remember about you? Make sure you bring them up, and if you’re nervous just fall back on those five things and nothing can go wrong.
  4. Professional presence. You don’t have to wear a suit or chat with us from the office, but maybe wearing a dirty old T-shirt or lying on your bed aren’t the most professional ways to present yourself. It can be easy to slip into more casual behavior, especially with virtual events. Think about how you are coming across by asking yourself, “is this how I want to be remembered?"
  5. Follow up. Following up with your interviewer
    A desktop with a pin board containing three thank you cards.
    I love decorating my desk with cards!
    really makes you stand out. A card is nice, and definitely touching, but a simple email (which you can write a template for ahead of time) is just as effective. Not only will it help an interviewer remember you, but it also shows that you’re invested in the college.

Interviews are a tricky part of the application process because they are not required, or even offered, at every school. At Oberlin, because they are optional, a good or a bad interview will not be the deciding factor for admissions, but it never hurts to do well. 


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