By Patrick Cole
In the last article we dealt with some of the more common questions. Here we’re going to look at a few more – particularly the more tricky ones. Before we start, however, let me again remind you that you shouldn’t get too stressed out about the interview.
You see, the interview at a university is not just supposed to find out if you’re a good fit for them, it’s also supposed to convince you that they’re the right fit for you. And that means they’re not going to ask difficult questions or be horribly unfair to you. Hopefully that will take some of the weight off your shoulders.
Have you been a leader or demonstrated leadership qualities
This is a question that often comes up. Universities like leaders. Leaders are more likely to make a mark for themselves and earn accolades. And accolades reflect well on the university that nurtured this rising star.
For that reason, sit down and think a moment about where you might have demonstrated leadership skills. This could be in sports, or if you were valedictorian. It can also be in a club, in a charity, or even in some group that you’ve created yourself.
Now, to really score well on this one, make sure you talk about some of the difficulties of leadership. What was it about leading people that you didn’t realize beforehand but understand now? Is there something that you would do differently with the knowledge you have? You see, if you can demonstrate what you’ve learned you don’t just show leadership capacities, you show that you can grow. And that is real leadership material.
If you could have done one thing differently in high school what would it be?
Some people take this question as an opportunity to spit venom and slander people. They’ll talk about how they wouldn’t have made a friend, how they regret certain a certain choice or how they’d lament their fate.
That is not the point of this question. Instead, what you’re trying to do here is to demonstrate how much you’ve learned since you started high school and how that wisdom would make you make better choices.
In effect, this question is once again exploring whether you’ve got the ability to learn and grow. If you can demonstrate you can do that, you’re well on your way to nailing it.
Tell me a challenge you overcame
This question is very similar to the one above. It again offers two paths for you to choose. The first one is to dwell on the challenge and how hard it was. The second path is all about how you overcame that challenge and managed to make yourself better as a person.
The first path is pessimistic, while the second one is optimistic. When you look at it like that, it isn’t hard to figure out which one you should choose.
Now, that’s not to say you should downplay the challenge. Give its due. Just make sure that the interviewer understands that the challenge has been overcome and is largely behind you.
Also, this is not the best place to speak about love lost. Yes, that’s very important, but that’s more something you want to discuss with friends and family. The interviewer doesn’t really want to know that somebody doesn’t love you anymore.
What three adjectives best describe you
Okay, the first thing you need to know when heading into this question is what is an adjective. If you don’t, you’re going to look slightly silly. An adjective are words like ‘intelligent’, ‘hardworking’, ‘passionate’ and so forth.
This is a good question to talk over with your friends, family and your favorite teacher. You see, the point of the question isn’t that you find the best adjectives you can come up with. It is that the person you’re talking to actually thinks there is some basis for them. If you say you’re meticulous, while your hair is slovenly and you’ve got ketchup on your collar, that isn’t going to impress anybody.
Accuracy is key.
How do you define “success”?
You could roll out a dictionary definition and hope that satisfies them. If you do that, however, then you’re wasting a fantastic opportunity to impress the interviewer. You see, this isn’t a question for textbook definitions. This is a question where you demonstrate character.
What do I mean with that? I mean that everybody has a different idea of success. Some people want money. Some people want fame. Some people want something truly worthwhile. To score the most ‘points’ on this question, the last one is what the interviewer is looking for.
An answer like, “helping make the world a little bit more equal” or “creating something that makes the world better” are good places to start. Obviously, you’ll have to expand on it. Maybe sit down and write out an answer, or get a custom writing job done where you work together with somebody. The goal is to demonstrate that you’re not just thinking about yourself. The world (and universities) can always use more people who think less about themselves.
What do you want to get out of the college experience?
They’re asking you to tell them about what you want to learn and how you want to grow. Your plan might be to break the beer bong record, but that’s something that you might not want to take into the interview with you.
Demonstrate that you’re thinking about the future and how this university can help you get there and you’ll be doing well with this question.
What is the most important thing you learned in high school
You could talk about the theory of relativity, or iambic pentameter. If you can pull it off and really explain why it is indeed the most important thing that you learned, then you’re no doubt going to impress the interview. After all, in so doing you demonstrate a fantastic understanding of an important theory and thereby show you’re miles ahead of your potential classmates.
You don’t have to go down that route, however. You can also talk about values, which is really what the question is about. So you can discuss community, friendship, hard work, discipline, organization or similar ideas. You don’t even have to restrict yourself to one.
If you find it really hard to choose one, then talk about two, or even three. Of course, in the end you should probably choose one as the most important. That, however, doesn’t erase what you said about the other concepts.
Here is a final piece of advice for you to consider. A lot of people spend a lot of time on what they’re going to say. That’s not the only thing that matters, however. You should also focus on how you’re going to say it.
The goal in any interview is to come over as relaxed, calm and with a clear idea of what you’re trying to get across. You see, even the smartest professors aren’t going to remember what you said word for word. Instead, what they remember is the gist of what you said as well as the way you said it.
For that reason, even if your concepts aren’t all that complicated and your ideas aren’t all that advanced, if you manage to say them with conviction and manage to get your ideas across clearly and succinctly, you’re going to probably do better than somebody who constantly loses their train of thought and won’t meet the interviewer’s eye.
So don’t just focus on content, make sure you’ve got the presentation down as well. The best way to do that is to practice a few times with people you trust. Set up a camera and run through these questions a few times.
It might sound like a lot of work, but you’ll thank yourself for taking the time when you’re sitting across from the interviewer.
: Patrick Cole is a passionate writer and contributor to several websites. Loves to write about education and self-realization. You can connect with him via Twitter