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College Essay Writing and Interview Skills


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Top Interview Tips for Teens

Do you have a college, job, or internship interview coming up?

Would you like to feel more comfortable and confident?

When you don’t have much, or any, interview experience, there are a few tips and techniques that are especially good to know.

In this post you’ll find my top ten list of interview skills for teens. They’re easy to learn and they work. Use them and you’ll discover how to make a strong and successful impression in your interview.

Top Interview Tips for Teens

1. Arrive Early

Early means early. Being late makes a bad impression. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your interview. Leave time for traffic jams, red lights, and a lack of parking spaces.

There’s a big bonus to arriving early. You’ll have time to sit down, relax, and get acquainted with your surroundings. You can double-check your notes. You can even take a trip to the bathroom.

If you’re not sure where you’re going, schedule a practice run. Or do it virtually. I tend to get lost, so before I go someplace new I use Google Maps street view and take a virtual trip where I’m headed. That way I can see the building I’m going to and it looks familiar when I get there.

2. Dress Appropriately

Collared shirts, khakis, dress slacks, skirts, button down blouses…this is the stuff people wear to interviews. Leave anything sheer, high cut, or low cut in your closet. Bottom line: This is one time you want to get wardrobe advice from a grownup.

3. Relax. It’s Normal to Be Nervous.

It’s okay to be nervous—in fact, a few nerves can keep us on our toes. But when you’ve got too many butterflies, here’s what to do:

Before your interview:

-Prepare. This may sound obvious, but it’s the thing that works. Know your positive qualities, have four or five examples you can talk about that illustrate your fit and experiences, and practice answering common interview questions. When you get to the interview you’ll feel more confident and in control.

The day of your interview:

-Arrive early so you can settle in.
-Take a brisk walk to shake off any jitters.
-Breathe! We forget to do this all the time.
-Bring a bottle of water. Nerves can give you a dry mouth. (But sip, don’t swig.)

During your interview:

-Remember the interviewer’s not the enemy—he or she wants you to do your best and succeed.
-If you stammer or forget something, don’t worry. It happens to everybody. Just smile and move on. If you’re really stuck, you can always say, “Can I think about it and come back to that question?”
-If you need an extra moment, take a sip of water.
-Smile. It helps you relax inside.
-Breathe.

For more help on how to de-stress, read my post on combating interview nerves.

4.  Know How to Start and End An Interview

Starting Your Interview: Look the interviewer in the eye and greet him or her with a firm handshake. Address your interviewer by name. Be cheerful and complimentary. (“Hello, Mr. Gavin, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.”) Smile.

Ending Your interview. Do the same thing: Look the interviewer in the eye, shake hands, and smile. Thank the interviewer for his or her time, and make sure to say that you enjoyed the experience. (“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, Mr. Gavin. I really enjoyed talking with you.”) Saying you enjoyed the experience is important. It helps leave the interviewer with a positive impression.

Ace your college interview - handshakesTip: A note on shaking hands. Some teens feel uncomfortable about being the first to offer a handshake. Don’t be—it’s a sign of confidence and maturity. The interviewer’s looking at you for adult qualities like maturity, responsibility, and leadership. Your handshake should be firm, but not bone crushing. And certainly not like a limp fish (!). For more information, read my post on the best ways to begin and interviews.

5. Be Able to Answer Common Interview Questions.

There are lots of possible interview questions, but some pop up repeatedly. Here’s a list of common interview questions you should know how to answer:

Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want to work here/Why do you want to go to school here?
How would you be a good fit here?
Tell me about a couple of your strengths.
What’s your biggest weakness?
What are your favorite subjects in school? Why?
What’s been your most challenging subject?
What’s gotten you curious enough to explore on your own outside of class?
How would your friends or teachers describe you?
What book(s) have you read recently outside of class?
Tell me about a time you had to overcome an obstacle or challenge.
Do you get along with your teachers?
Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

Practicing is one of the best things you can do to get ready for an interview. Enlist a friend or family member to practice with you, and take turns being the interviewer and interviewee so you get a feel for both sides.

For more sample questions, check out my practice interview.

6. Never Give One Word Answers. Add Relevant Examples Instead.

Good interviews are conversations; they’re a give and take of information. That’s why you should never respond to questions with a one-word answer—it‘s like turning a two-way street into a dead end. Check out this “before” example:

Interviewer: “It’s nice to meet you. I see on your resume that you interned for the electric company.”
You: “Yes.”

Crickets. You just slammed the brakes on the conversation and now the interviewer has no place to go. But if you add an example, especially one that shows off your positive qualities, you create flow. Here’s what that answer might sound like:

Interviewer: “It’s nice to meet you. I see on your resume that you interned for the electric company.”
You: “Yes. I started out answering phones, but when I told them I was interested in marketing they let me switch departments and gave me a mentor. Now I’ve discovered how much I like marketing.”
Interviewer: That’s terrific. Tell me more about your mentor and how you work together.

When you include examples, you continue the conversation. The interviewer learns a lot more about you, and gets a much better sense of why you’d be a good fit.

Tip: Come up with 4 or 5 examples you can talk about in your interview. Your examples should help illustrate your positive qualities. Start by finding an example of leadership, an example of your ability to work as a team member, a time you overcame an obstacle, and both a class and an activity that have been particularly meaningful and why. Then, depending on the question you’re asked, choose the example that helps answer the question. (You can probably think of other ones, too.) If you need help figuring out your positive qualities, click here.

7. Research the School or Business.

Pretend you’re an interviewer and you ask two students why they want to go to your school. The first one says, “Because you’ve got lots of fun courses.” The second one says, “I really appreciate the school’s philosophy that to fully succeed you should know more than your single field of study.” Which student is going to stand out to you? The student with the specific answer.

To stand out, you’ve got to have specific, thoughtful answers. For that, you need to research the school or business. (Yes, this is homework, but I promise it pays off.)

Here are the steps you can use to help you ace your homework research:

How to Research a Business: Go to the company’s website. Find out what the company does, such as the products it manufactures or the services it provides. As you look through the website, pay attention to the main ideas the company highlights (Sustainability? Innovation? Connection with employees?). Next, look for news about the company on the website or search for it on Google. This will help you understand what’s new, and where the company is headed. As you go along, jot down the key points, especially the ones that make you feel like you’d be a good fit or excited to work there. You want to be able to answer questions like, “What do you know about our company?”…”Why do you want to work here?”…”Why would we be a good fit for you?”

How to Research a School: Go to the school’s website. You’re looking for two things: Information about the school and information about the students. Start by looking at the home page. What images and words appear on this page? The home page is like the school’s main ad—it’s where they’re going to hit you with a strong message about who they are and what makes them attractive. After the home page, find and read about the school’s mission and academic philosophy. Then follow the links that interest you to learn about academics, student life, activities, etc. As you go along, take notes about what interests you. Jot down the key words used to describe the school and its students (Involved? Globally aware? Research oriented?). Then come up with examples of how you fit those words and interests, so you can talk about it in the interview.

8. Use Good Body Language.

Body language is how we communicate without words. Believe it or not, before you say hello an interviewer is judging you based on your body language. That’s why good body language makes a good impression.

Here are good body language techniques:

– Sit up straight
– Look the interviewer in the eye
– Don’t fidget
– Don’t twirl your hair
Have good energy
– Keep your hands in your lap most of the time
– Smile when it’s appropriate

For more body language techniques, read my post, Six Confidence-Building Body Language Tips.

9. Ask Questions.

You should have two or three questions ready for the interviewer. Your interviewer will expect it. Write your questions down on a notepad and bring them with you. You can refer to the notepad when you ask your questions. (But don’t refer to your notes when you’re answering interview questions.) Make sure your questions are thoughtful. Don’t ask questions easily answered by the website.

Tip: You don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. Ask questions when it feels appropriate.

how to write collehow to write college interview thank you note10. Send a Thank You Note.

This is crucial. Send a thank you email right away. If you’d like to, you can also follow up with a handwritten note. When you’re writing, don’t be too casual. Instead of “Hey” or “Hi,” say, “Dear _____.” In the body of the note refer to something the two of you talked about, because that will make it more personal. One final, very important item: Make sure you know the correct spelling of your interviewer’s name, title, and contact information. If you don’t have it, ask for it at the desk when you arrive or ask your interviewer for a business card. If you still don’t have it after the interview, call and ask. Don’t hesitate to do this; you want everything to be just right. Details matter. Mistakes matter, too.

Bonus Tip: Show Your Personality! You want to remain professional—this isn’t the time to try out a comedy routine—but don’t hide who you are. Express your personality and let the interviewer get to know you. You can do that by:

-Greeting your interviewer warmly and with a smile.
-Engaging in conversation.
Having examples and experiences ready to talk about.

Finding connections: If you discover a connection with your interviewer (a book you’ve both read, the same city you grew up in, a shared interest or hobby), discuss it! It will help the conversation flow.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skills
Sharon Epstein is a Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, teaching students around the world how to master interview skills, write resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

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6 Confidence-Building Body Language Tips for Your Next Interview

6 Body Language Tips for Successful Interviews

It takes just a few seconds before we pass judgement on someone we meet. We can’t help it; it’s our nature. Even before a person speaks our brains start to give us the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Body language is how we communicate without words. It can be a look, a smile, a stance, a gesture. It can be a fidget, a crossed arm, a slouch.

Interviewers start to make decisions about you the moment they see you. That’s before you say hello. So if your body is talking, you need to know what it’s saying. Because in an interview, good body language is essential to your interview’s success.

If you’ve got a job interview, a college interview, or an internship interview, here are 6 simple and successful body language tips:

1. Sit up straight. Slouching is a sign that you lack confidence. Leaning back is a sign that you’re defensive or don’t care.

2. Lean slightly forward. When you lean slightly forward you lessen the space between you and the interviewer. It shows increased interest in the conversation.

3. Don’t fidget. Fidgeting is a sign of discomfort or weakness. It’s also distracting. If you twirl your hair, pull it back. If you twist or rub your hands, fold them in front of you or keep them flat in your lap. If you tap your pen, put it away. Fidgeting can be a hard habit to break, but if you work on being aware of when you do it, and stop yourself when you do, you’ll find that over time you’ll be able to control it more easily.

4. Maintain good eye contact. Looking someone in the eye is a sign of honesty and directness. It also shows that you’re engaged in the conversation. It’s okay to occasionally look away — most of us do that, especially when we’re thinking. But remember to bring your eyes back to the interviewer. Don’t stare, though — that can get creepy.

5. No limp fish handshakes. A strong handshake is a sign of confidence, so be firm when you shake someone’s hand. Too strong a handshake can come off as aggressive (and potentially painful). So can holding on for too long. Not sure about your handshake? Find several people to practice with.

6. Smile. A genuine smile lights up your face. It shows the interviewer that you’re happy to be there and that you’re enjoying the experience. So when you meet your interviewer, smile. And when it’s appropriate during the interview, smile (or even laugh). Definitely smile when you shake hands and leave — that’s the last picture your interviewer will have of you.

For more information about interviewing, check out my posts on how to begin and end college interviews and why you might be failing your job interview.

All eyes are on you from the moment you arrive for your interview until the moment you leave. Make sure your body language speaks volumes — in the right way.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skills
Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

 


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Applying to College: Why It’s Important to Know Your College Rep

Why Its Important to Know Your College RepThe parents of a student just called me. Their son was accepted to most of the colleges he applied to, even one of his reach schools. The problem? He was wait listed at a college they thought would be an easy acceptance and now it’s THE place he wants to go.

I was asked to read his letter of continued interest. (A letter of continued interest tells the school you still want to attend and why.) The letter was addressed “Dear Admissions Committee.”

I asked them to address the letter to their local admissions counselor. They didn’t know who that was.

So I asked if the student had interviewed when he visited.

“The school said the interview was only informational,” said his dad. “So we just took the tour and went home.”

By never contacting his admissions representative, the student missed a big opportunity.

Imagine if, in his letter, the student could have mentioned how he had enjoyed his interview or reminded the rep about something interesting they’d talked about. Instead, he hadn’t made a connection at all.

Your local college admissions counselor is the person who will read your application and recommend whether or not to accept you. This is the person who will fight for you (or not fight for you) when the admissions committee discusses your future.

Developing a relationship with your local college admissions representative is one of the easiest things you can do when you’re applying to college.

HERE ARE THREE WAYS TO GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL COLLEGE REP:

1. Attend College Fairs. If a college fair is held in your area or at your school, make plans to go.

Tips for making a good impression at a college fair:

  • Dress nicely.
  • Arrive early to avoid long lines.
  • Be mature. Go up to the admissions counselor and introduce yourself. Make eye contact and be the first to offer a handshake. Let him or her know that you’re interested in their school.
  • Be prepared with a few questions. (Do they offer the courses you’re interested in, what majors are most popular at their school, student life, athletics, etc.)
  • Ask for the representative’s business card or contact information. Go home and write a brief thank you note. You will be noticed and remembered.

2. Call or Email Your Local Rep. If you have specific questions during your application process, he or she will be glad to answer. Even if you don’t have questions, send your rep a short email saying hello and that you’re excited about the idea of attending. College reps don’t bite – they’re there to help you through all the stages of your application. Talk to them.

Tip: You can find the name of your local admissions representative on the school’s website or by calling or emailing the admissions office.

3. Schedule an On-Campus Interview. There are several different kinds of on-campus interviews:

  • Required.
  • Evaluative: These interviews aren’t required, but the thoughts and impressions of the person who interviews you will be included as part of the admissions process.
  • Non-evaluative/informational: These interviews aren’t considered in the decision-making process. They provide the school an opportunity to get to know you and answer your questions. (Occasionally, these interviews are conducted by students.)

Tip: If your local rep is busy or interviewing another student, you’ll meet with a different admissions counselor for your interview. Don’t worry — your interviewer will share his or her notes so that your local rep has all the information.

THE BENEFITS OF GETTING TO KNOW YOUR COLLEGE REP:

1. You Demonstrate Interest.  Sacred Heart University is a perfect example of how demonstrating interest is valuable. Christina Hamilton, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, says that while Sacred Heart doesn’t offer evaluative interviews, they strongly encourage students to interview.  She says, “We really value the demonstrated interest at Sacred Heart. We’re always encouraging students to be in touch with our staff and admission counselors. We are out in our area doing interviews or on campus hoping to be able to meet with them. The student-counselor relationship is something we definitely like to emphasize. “

2. You Put a Face to Your College Application (hopefully a smiling one).  When you can meet someone face-to-face, or send an email or a thank you note, you add a dimension to your application that isn’t already there.

3. You Give your College Rep Another Reason to Advocate for You. It takes maturity and initiative to say hello at a college fair, to pick up the phone, or to ask intelligent questions. Your rep will appreciate that when it comes time to advocate for you at the admissions table.

4. You Create a Relationship. Valuable from start to end.

So, if you’re applying to college, say hello to your college rep. Develop a relationship (don’t stalk), schedule an interview if you can, and send a thank you note. Even if you do ONE of these things you will give yourself an advantage. And if you are wait listed, you will have that relationship to draw on.

It’s good information to know.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skills


Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts and email. Visit her website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

 


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Why Am I Failing My Job Interview? Five Reasons.

why a I failing my job interviewYou walk into an interview. You sit down, discuss the job, and think it goes well. Excited, you wait for a call that doesn’t come. Weeks later, you’re still waiting. What are you doing wrong?

The problem may be your presentation, your preparation, or both.

Here are Five Ways You May Be Failing Your Interview:  

1. You Blew it in Less Than a Minute.

Studies show that you’ve got less than ten seconds to make a good impression. Think about what that means: Before you say a word, the interviewer is sizing you up and beginning to decide whether you’d be a good fit for the company.

Be on time. Being late can make you a non-starter.

Dress appropriately. If you don’t know the dress code at the company, dress up.

Body language counts. A lot. Stand up when the interviewer enters the room. Smile and be the first one to offer a handshake. If you’re already standing up, take a confident step forward as you hold out your hand.

Greet the interviewer by name. (“It’s good to meet you, Mrs. Smith. Thank you for taking the time to meet me.”) Most companies will tell you the name of your interviewer, or you can call and ask. Look up your interviewer on LinkedIn so you’ve got some background.

Your job interview begins before you say hello. Use those first seconds to your advantage and set a positive tone.

2. You Didn’t Focus on What the Interviewer Needs.

Job interviews aren’t about what the company can do for you; they’re about what you can do for the company. When you’re asked “Why do you want to work here,” be prepared to give examples.

Do your homework. Spend several hours or even an entire day researching the company. At the least, you will be expected to know the requirements of the job you’re applying for and how your skills will mesh.

Take your research a step further and find a way your skills can be of value that the interviewer hasn’t considered. For instance, a job opening might not mention language skills, but a bilingual candidate who discovers the company has a growing segment of Spanish-speaking customers, and then mentions that he or she can use those skills to help improve service to the Spanish-speaking population, might rate some serious attention.

Bottom line: If you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to the company, you can show yourself the door.

3. You Didn’t Listen.

During the interview, listen carefully to what the interviewer tells you about the company. This is another way to discover how your skills might mesh with the company’s needs.

4. You Skipped Practice.

Unless you’re skilled at interviewing, you should practice before you get there.

Get comfortable answering the question “Tell me about yourself.” (This is your elevator pitch.)

Make a list of other practice questions. The possibilities are too numerous to list, but categories of questions you might be asked include your qualifications, your future, your ability to work with others, how you have/will handle challenging situations, and how you problem solve.

Don’t memorize your answers—that’s a big mistake. Memorizing only makes your answers dry and robotic. Instead, become comfortable with what you have to say and with the examples you have to draw on.

Don’t lie. Interviewers can often tell, and even if they can’t, lies can trip you up later.

5. You Didn’t Stand Out.

Standing out doesn’t have to be an elusive task. I’ve already covered four ways to stand out:

  • Know about the company want to work for.
  • Understand how your skills match the job.
  • Listen to the interviewer.
  • Focus on the company’s needs.

Add a “wow” factor. Find a way to show you went that extra step to be prepared.

  • Bring a sharp-looking portfolio or resume.
  • If your interviewer wants to know if you’d be willing to learn additional skills, don’t hesitate—accept the opportunity.
  • Sometimes all it takes is being positive and relaxed in your interview. If the interviewer enjoys the conversation and feels like you’d fit in well at the company, that might just be enough of a “wow.”
  • When you leave, acknowledge the interviewer’s time. Most of all, tell him or her that you enjoyed being there. Your interviewer will remember you.

If you’re eager to land that job, then do your homework, set a positive tone, and understand how you can satisfy the needs of the company you want to work for. Then add a little “wow.” Your next job interview may just be the one that gets you in the door.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is a Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, teaching students around the world how to master interview skills, write resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.


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Best Ways to Begin and End College Interviews

Best Ways to Begin and End College Interviews

How you begin and end your college interview makes a difference.

Your college interview begins even before you say hello. It starts when the interviewer sees you for the first time and notices how you hold yourself, how you dress, if you smile.

Make a great impression: know how to begin and end your college interviews.

  • Be the First to Offer a Handshake. When you meet your interviewer, make eye contact, smile and hold out your hand. The interviewer will see someone who’s enthusiastic, confident and mature.

    Ace your college interview - handshakes
  • Greet the Interviewer by Name. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr./Mrs./Dean _______.  Thanks for taking the time to see me.”
    • Wait! Do you even know the interviewer’s name?? If you’re meeting an alum and you were contacted by email, check there. If you’ve made an appointment to see an admissions officer during a college visit, either ask for the name when you make the appointment or ask politely at the desk when you arrive.
    • Use the interviewer’s correct title, such as “Dean Johnson.”
    • What if the name is difficult to pronounce? Here’s what to say:  “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Dzubak. Did I get the pronunciation right?” Give yourself triple bonus points for trying – because most students probably won’t.
    • Want to remember your interviewer’s name? Take a notepad with you and write it down before you go.

  • Confidence Counts. I’ve answered my door to many students who look like they want to disappear into the woodwork. But it’s the student who stands tall and greets me with enthusiasm that has a head start. That’s the student who appears ready for college.
    • You can be one of those students – all it takes is practice.
    • Practice having an adult greet you. Work on your confidence level and greeting skills until you’re comfortable enough to handle the real thing.
  • When It’s Over, Say Thank You. You’d be surprised how many students (and adults) miss this important step.how to write collehow to write college interview thank you note
  • You Can Also Say:
    • “I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you.”
    • “I learned a lot today – it’s made me even more interested in attending.”
    • “I really enjoyed talking with you. I appreciate the time.”
    • “Would it be okay to get in touch if I have any more questions?”

These sentences are courteous and thoughtful. You’re letting the interviewer know that you’re aware he or she made time for you. When you appreciate that effort out loud, you make a good impression.

  • Send a Thank You Note.
    • Send an email thank you right away. Follow up with a snail mail thank you within a week.
    • In your note, mention something that you spoke about during the interview. For instance:

“Dear Dean Hart, Thank you for taking the time to speak with me last week. After we spoke, I researched the study abroad program you suggested and I agree with you—it looks like it could be an excellent match with my major.”

When you mention what you spoke about in the interview, or even include additional material that relates to your discussion, you’re creating a good impression. Your interviewer will take note, and that’s the way you start to build a relationship. Relationships can make a difference when colleges decide which students to admit.

Begin and end your college interview by using these steps. Your interviewer will be impressed.

Related blog posts:
5 Best Tips for College Interview Success
College Interview Tips: Is it Okay to Ask for Something to Drink?
College Interview Tips: How to Interview with an Alum
College Interview Tips: Combating Nerves
Interview Tips: How to Interview with a College Sports Coach

Other helpful links:
From Go See Campus: Make A Great Impression In Your College Interviews
From Princeton Review: College Interviews

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is a Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, teaching students around the world how to master interview skills, write resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.



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Jump-Start Your College Interview: Bring Photos

lJump-start your College Interview - Bring Photos

Want to jump-start your college interview?

Bring Photos. Why?

  • Photos can be great conversation starters.
    • Imagine being able to say, “I’ve got some pictures of the play I starred in.” The conversation is off and running.
  • Sharing photos can put you at ease.
    • Are you on the shy side? Pull out your photos. It will relax the conversation right away.
  • Photos help when something’s hard to explain.
    • One of my students from Wilton, Connecticut, starred in a lot of plays. Instead of trying to describe the roles he played, he brought photos. The photos filled in the details so he didn’t have to describe each role, plus they showed him doing what he loved.

Ace Your College Interview - Bring PhotosWhat kind of photos should you bring?

  • Anything visual. If you’ve been in a dance recital, concert, or marching band—if you’ve built a tree house, gone with your sports team to the state championship, or just come back from an experience you want to share—almost anything you’ve done can be a shared in a photo.

Avoid These Photo Pitfalls:

  • Too many photos! Edit your photos before you share them. Don’t bring a dozen when two or three will do.
  • Don’t make your interviewer wait while you thumb through a hundred photos. Find the photos you need beforehand. The object is to get the conversation started, not bring it to a grinding halt.

Above All: Everything you bring should represent you at your best. If you think a photo is too goofy, silly, or perhaps even inappropriate for an interviewer, don’t bring it.  If you’re not sure, ask an adult.

Then share your photos and enjoy the conversation.

Helpful links:
5 Best Tips for College Interview Success
College Interview Tips: Is it Okay to Ask for Something to Drink?
College Interview Tips: How to Interview with an Alum
College Interview Tips: Combatting Nerves
Interview Tips: How to Interview with a College Sports Coach

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.


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5 Best Tips for College Interview Success

College Interview Success - 5 Best TipsYou’ve got a college interview. OMG. NOW WHAT!?!? Take a deep breath and read on.

Here are my 5 Best Tips for Interview Success:

1. Relax. It’s Normal to Be Nervous. Use these 4 relaxation strategies to help ace your college interview:

  • Arrive early so you can look around.
  • Take a brisk walk to shake off jitters.
  • Breathe! We forget to do this all the time.
  • Bring a bottle of water. Nerves can give you a dry mouth—you don’t want to feel like you’re chewing on a fist full of Saltines.

2. Decide On 3 Things You Want the Interviewer to Remember About You. This is a great way to feel more in control during your interview. If you decide on three ideas beforehand, you’ll never be fishing for something to say.

What should you choose? Any activity, accomplishment, goal or value that’s important to you. Think about:

  • Ways you’ve been a leader.
  • How you’ve contributed to your sport or school.
  • Your best qualities (You’re thoughtful, determined, loyal, etc.)
  • Your goals.

3. Be Prepared to Ask and Answer Questions.

  • Anticipate the types of questions you’ll be asked and practice answering them. (Don’t try to wing it. It doesn’t work.)
  • Have questions ready for the interviewer.
  • Tip: Don’t ask questions that are easily answered by the catalog or website.
  • I give you practice questions to ask and answer on my  website.

4. Body Language Counts.

  • Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Don’t fidget.
  • No gum or candy. (True story: One of my students kept reaching into his pocket, unwrapping and sucking on Starbursts, then shoved the papers into his pocket and wiped his hands on his pants.)
  • Dress nicely. Like your mom would be proud of.

5. Follow Up Right Away with a Thank You Note.

  • An email is fine, but if you want to stand out also send an old-fashioned, hand-written thank you. It’s one more way to make an excellent impression, which is exactly what you want.

Remember: A good interview is an exchange of information and ideas. Be prepared, be comfortable and enjoy.

I’ll be writing about more interview tips, so stay tuned.

Helpful links:
College Interview Tips: Is it Okay to Ask for Something to Drink?
College Interview Tips: How to Interview with an Alum
College Interview Tips: Combatting Nerves
Interview Tips: How to Interview with a College Sports Coach

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is a Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, teaching students around the world how to master interview skills, write stand-out resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, FaceTime, Skype and email. Visit my website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.