A (Beginner's) Guide to a Good Interview Day

Well, it’s that time of year. Yep, it’s the point where you’re gearing up for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. You’re looking forward to break and a change in scenery for a while, but there’s a thought nagging in the back of your mind. It’s also your senior year of high school, and your early applications for colleges are all due at this point and you really have to start looking at that long list of scholarship applications that your parents are making you fill out (it’s worth it, I promise). It’s also getting ready to be time for the first of two Scholarship Days at Emory & Henry College. This is the day when prospective Honors students come in and complete their interview and seminar sessions to see if they’re a good fit for the College Honors Program.

If you are anything like I was, reading that made the breath freeze in your chest. Relax! Breathe! We’re here to help you get through it with a (Beginner’s) Guide to a Good Interview Day.

1)   I’ll say it again…BREATHE. C’mon, in and out, you can do it. Your entire life does not rest on the outcome of this day, whether it seems like that or not. Go into this knowing that it will be a wonderful experience, but at the end, if you’re not invited to join the program, it’s okay. Many students who aren't invited into the Program as high school seniors come to Emory & Henry and are invited in as first-year "In-Course Admits." And even if the Honors Program here just isn’t for you, you’re going to have an amazing future anyway. Just remember, you’re awesome! Confidence helps.

2)   Do your homework! The Honors Program sends out a list of possible seminar topics and what they’re about, and it also sends out possible things the interview panel might ask you about in your individual interviews. Make sure you look over these so you have an idea of what you want to say in defense of your choice of seminar topic, and have an idea of what you want to cover in your interview.

3)   Run through some possible questions. If you’re like me, you’re more worried about your individual interview than the seminar discussion. In a group setting, I can bounce ideas off of the people next to me and engage in a great discussion, but sometimes I run out of things to say when I’m just talking about myself. What I did on my way to campus that morning was run through some questions I thought the interviewers might ask me during my individual session. I thought of possible answers and discussed them with my grandmother, who drove me. It ended up that I was actually able to use some of the ideas generated during that conversation in my interview, and it gave me a lot of relief to answer questions that I’d already thought of.

4)   What’s your passion? At Emory & Henry, our Honors interviewers really like to know what you’re passionate about. Have an idea of what you’d like to change in the world, what programs you’d like to start, and what you’d really like to do with your life. Emory & Henry is all about changing things and making connections with the people who can help you change things. Think about what you’d like to do, and practice explaining it to others.

5)   Realize right now that you won’t have the answers to everything. Interviewers are going to ask you some hard questions, and that’s okay. It’s even okay to tell them, “you know, that’s a good question!” They’ll give you time to think about it, and they won’t think any less of you if you admit that it’s something you’d need to look further into. In fact, they might think a little higher of a person that realizes further research is useful in certain situations.

6)   Talk to people! You’re going to be on campus for several hours, and not all of them will be spent in interviews and seminar discussions. Take the opportunity during the different interest sessions you participate in to make some friends. You’re all a little nervous on this day, so having someone to talk to about it will make it a little easier. Plus, some people you talk to on this day might be your future cohort members, so it’s nice to know some faces before your first year even begins.

7)   Ask questions! There will be several older students milling about for the duration of the day, so take the opportunity to ask all the questions you need to. That’s what they’re there for. We love to talk about where we’ve been and what we did there. We love to talk about our classes and professors and friends and what we do on the weekends. All you need do is ask.

8)   Be yourself! It’s old and clichéd, but it’s good advice. Everyone involved with this day wants to know YOU. Not the best face you put on just so people will think you’re something you’re not, but you. You’re invited to this day because we saw the potential of a truly amazing person that is dedicated to making the world an even better place. Yes, we saw your test scores and thought to ourselves “wow, s/he has done really well in their academics”, but that doesn’t matter as much as the person behind the scores. Tell us where you’ve been and where you’re planning on going. Tell us what you’ve done and what you’d like to do. Tell us who you want to be. That’s the most important thing to remember for this day.

Now, is that a little better? Can you breathe a little more fully? Just relax and have fun, because this day is all about you and exploring your thoughts. Make friends and make memories and enjoy Emory & Henry College’s campus.

P.S. It’s cold (very cold), so bring some layers!