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The Lessons I Learned As a Drama Geek Prepared Me For College Interviews

And Can Prepare You Too!

I’ll admit it: I was a bit of a theater geek in high school. I built sets, sang, dance, but most importantly I learned to smile through my fears and say ‘yes, and?’ to whatever life and my interviews threw at me.

Using The Core Principles of Improv

If I could give you any advice on how to prepare for your college interview, it would be these four words: Be. Prepared. For. Anything.

Have you heard about the interviews with only one question? Or maybe you had a friend whose interviewer arrived late and spent most of the interview talking about Stranger Things? That’s why you, savvy student, need to know which questions might be asked and how to adapt, and adapt professionally, to any scenario.

Say ‘Yes, And?’

Founder of Improv on the Job, Taren Sterry, once said that, “‘Yes, and’ is about accepting and building on what is offered. It’s about listening fully, then responding. It’s about investing in what’s happening in the now.”

Often we can be so focused on planning our next witty joke or impressive anecdote that we forget to truly be in the moment, connect with our interviewer, and notice important subtleties like their tone or the direction of their questions.

“Yes and’ also means that you take full responsibility for keeping the conversation going, and make statements that guide the interview to cover the topics that are most essential to you. By listening completely and giving ‘yes, and’ answers that move your conversation beyond the superficial, you can truly shine during your interviews.

Practice, And Know There Are No Mistakes.

During one memorable interview of mine, I was fiddling with my pen when I accidentally flung it high in the air, only to have it crash down on the floor next to me. I could have frozen or panicked about my now totally awkward interview, but my years in theater had taught me to roll with the punches, no matter how weird things got. I laughed, said ‘guess I was a bit nervous!’ and my interviewer and I ended up cracking up at the whole incident.

Not only should you be willing to laugh at yourself and any mishaps, you should also learn as much as you can about your interview and interviewer in advance. Is it a group or individual interview? Have any students or interviewers blogged online about their experience? Are you expected to dress up or bring a resume? The more you know going into your interview, the more confident you’ll be, even if your pen decides to go for a quick flight during your interview.

It’s All About Teamwork

You can’t choose your interviewer, but you can choose how you react to your interviewer. Your goal as an interviewee is to not just be able to highlight your experiences, goals and how Dream University is the best school for you: it’s also about connecting with your interviewer on a personal level and making them want to advocate for you. This means lots of active listening, demonstrating a genuine interest in what they say and preparing for common interview questions in advance.

You need to prepare for and be able to respond to your interviewer’s questions, no matter how simple (Do you enjoy basketball?), strange (How many rubber bands would you need to build a tower to space?) or profound (What is your purpose?). 

Unsure how to do this?

Stay tuned for part two of this article next week for our list of common college interview questions, and more importantly how to give answers that show you truly understand your interviewer’s priorities and what they’re looking for.

Questions will include:

– Tell me about yourself

– Why this major

– Why this college

– Do you have any questions for me

– Tell me about your activities (this one is deceptively simple!)

See you next week! 

Amy Brennen, Insight College Admissions Counselor 

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