Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Waiting Game

Preparing for interviews. It’s something that sounds so much less onerous than ‘preparing for exams,’ but really this is the last hurdle. You’ve handed in your grades, done entrance examinations, selected your very best written ramblings, and now the last thing waiting between you and rejection is a room, a faceless interviewer, and some horror stories about antics designed to throw you off your stride.

I applied to a university that involves interviews, and I’m finding out this week if I’m one of the fortune 60% of applicants who will be selected to go to college and be interviewed. That 60% will live in college for four days and three nights, explore the city, try to appear normal and as though we aren’t working through a perpetual panic attack, and then try not to fold like a cheap tent when questioned as to our intellectual curiosity and on-the-spot aptitude.

For people anticipating the possibility of an interview, it’s wholly helpful to prepare. The most important thing to do, in my view, is read. The main question to prepare for is ‘So, I’ve been reading your personal statement, and it’s good. You’ve read lots of great books. But I’m wondering; what else have you been reading?’ If you can’t answer that question, then your claims of deep academic commitment to the subject looks like a farce. Of course, it’s also important to refresh your memory of the books and topics you’ve listed there. For one, it looks bad if you can’t answer simple questions about your reading. For another, questions about your personal statement will be designed to ease you into the interview, and not to scare you, before the meatier quizzing begins. If you can answer those sorts of questions well, you’ll be left with a good feeling, and calmer as you prepare to tackle the rest of the discussion.

Like I mentioned before, there are rumours about questions designed to throw you properly off your feet. Having spoken to a tutor, this isn’t what most people aim for. My teacher gave me a purposefully unrealistic mock interview that was designed to be off-putting and distracting. I was disarmed by her comment that she was pleased I knew the world ‘fiscal’ and by the view that ‘girls don’t really do economics, do they?’ When my friend received a similar mock interview, my teacher jokingly put her feet on the table, read the paper, doodled, and walked over to open a window. Yeah, it sounds distracting, and it was. It was an amusing exercise to do, but no one is ever going to have an experience like that any more. The fact is that we’re much more likely to hear on the grapevine about alleged strange habits from years gone by than about the multiple interviews which are genuinely geared towards making the applicant as comfortable as possible.

Finally, make sure you know why you want to apply for a particular course, college, or institution. Sure, we all know why, but you’ll find it’s harder to put these thoughts into words when your heart is racing a thousand miles an hour. These are the easy questions, easier even than ones about details on your personal statement, and it’s really helpful to take a moment to jot down some notes beforehand about the university and subject, and what drew you to them. You’re less likely to be assessed on your responses here, but if anything, being sure about why you’re applying will help settle your own mind, and make you even more determined and enthusiastic if you enter the interview room with these ideas running through your mind.

The best of luck to anyone waiting for interview responses! Feel free to leave me a comment below if you have an opinion or a question.



  1. hmmmmm...you seem to be taking this really seriously

  2. its the 23rd already and still not hearing from them is getting to me. aaaghh :(

  3. heard you got an interview, congrats!!

  4. Der Jägermeister - don't worry, most people haven't heard yet, it's nothing to worry about! And as far as I know, lateness isn't indicative of you being less likely to get an offer. Good luck :)

    lalalala9 - Thanks bbz :P You're my top commenter btw, nice work ;) xoxo