College or University Interview? Don’t Panic!
For some university or college courses, interviews are a necessary requirement to gain a place on your chosen course, nerve-racking as they may be! This may be because your course is highly competitive and the course leaders want to meet with you face to face to determine your suitability, or it may be because your application is unique and your college requires more insight than a paper application.
Either way, for some courses you can fully expect an interview (for example if you’re looking to study nursing or medicine) whereas sometimes you may be called for an interview when you’re least expecting it. At New College Manchester, we don’t interview our students before they start our courses; after all, everyone is at completely different levels when it comes to their English language ability.
However, we are aware that if you’re studying our English for University course, then you may shortly be applying to your ideal institution and potentially facing those scary first interviews! Interviews aren’t designed to trip you up however and it’s best to treat them as exactly what they are; your chance to shine.
So we’ve included a short and actionable guide to performing to the best of your ability when meeting with admissions officers. From winning greetings to simple yet effective techniques, we’ve compiled the most actionable tips for successful interviews.
It goes without saying that for an interview, formal dress is required and it is usually best to wear something smart, comfortable and simple, remember, you want to show them what differentiates you as a person, not your quirky fashion sense! It’s also important to turn up early, college campuses aren’t always the most straightforward places to navigate, and holding up the interview because you got lost around the halls of residences probably won’t be an acceptable excuse!
But of course, you already knew this, so let’s focus on the things that can make you look like a truly winning candidate:
- When greeting your interviewers, it is best to smile, thank them for inviting you and extend a firm handshake. Don’t worry if cultural or religious reasons mean you don’t feel comfortable doing this, if you explain to the interviewer then they should be very understanding.
- Body language matters, so ensure you maintain eye contact and refrain from slouching or crossing your arms across your chest. Slouching can make you look disinterested and crossing your arms can look defensive.
- If there is more than one interviewer, remember to maintain equal eye contact with everyone on the panel, focus on the person asking the question and then answer to the group.
- Bring a folder containing exam certificates, references, pictures, examples of hobbies or anything else that could be useful for elaborating on your extra-curricular activities or backing up any claims. Chances are the interviewer will simply want to ask you questions, but having any documents to hand will show you’re organised and serious about the interview.
- Prepare questions to ask your interviewers at the end of the interview. Preparing some insightful questions shows that you’re interested in the course and you’ve researched well. Don’t worry too much if your questions are answered through the course of the interview, simply explaining that you were interested to know about module choices but that has been well answered will still show you prepared!
Know Your Subject
- If your interview is for a highly competitive course then make sure you are in a position to discuss any topical events in detail – it will be expected that you keep up with any debates and newsworthy information.
- Be prepared to discuss any extra-curricular activities and how they’ve prepared you for your course. Try not to be vague as they’ll have heard all of the ‘typical’ answers before. Be completely honest, what challenges did you have to overcome, when did you demonstrate initiative or problem-solving skills? If you can demonstrate more than just academic proficiency then you’ll stand out as a worthy candidate.
After the Interview
- Unfortunately, your college or university may have conducted numerous interviews over the course of the week, so make yourself memorable and send an email/message of thanks after the interview. Thanking your interviewers for taking the time to meet with you and reiterating your interest in the course is polite and shows you’re serious about gaining a place.
We hope that’s uncovered a few common interview practices and helped you know what to expect. Unfortunately, you can’t know what questions you’ll be asked, but you can predict those ‘common’ questions to an extent! Be passionate about your course choice, know any industry news and be prepared to fully explain why you want to study at the college. Of course, our friendly NCM staff will be happy to offer advice, so feel free to ask our counsellors for their top tips.