College interviews can be as important to college acceptance as a job interview is to landing a coveted position in the professional world.

If a college offers an interview opportunity (either on-campus or with a local alumnus), you should definitely take advantage of it.

Don’t be intimidated! It’s a positive sign of the college’s interest. It’s also your chance to let your personality and passions stand out.

The best way to show that you’re ready for college at your interview is to be professional. Not necessarily business formal, but leave the flip-flops and gum at home.

That was important, so we’ll say it again.

Be professional.

But how? Here are 10 ways.

    1. Dress appropriately

Neat and clean in appearance is the goal. A suit might be overdoing it, but your clothes do show respect (or disrespect) for the occasion.

Opt for business casual—and remember to turn off your phone.

P.S.: When in doubt, remember that modesty is the best policy.

And don’t wear another college’s t-shirt!

    2. Bring your resume

Even if you have provided one previously, bringing your resume shows that you are prepared and eager. It’s also really helpful to have in front of you to prompt you in answering questions.

Q: “What are your academic strengths?”

A: “I’m really committed to computer science, as you can see from my three years in Coding Club. I’m currently the Vice President of Outreach, and I love to recruit new members and see how surprised they are about what coding can do for their academics.”

    3. Be punctual

Showing up too early sends an anxious vibe and just gives you more time to feel nervous. Showing up too late sends an irresponsible or careless vibe.

Arrive on time to demonstrate your reliability and respect for the interviewer.

    4. Do your research

Before the interview, research the college’s history, academic offerings, and statistical facts.

The interviewer is going to ask you, directly or indirectly, why you want to attend that particular university, so you need to be able to explain using specific examples.

    5. Think before you speak

Shake the interviewer’s hand. Use eye contact. Smile.

Don’t mumble or use one-word answers. At the same time, don’t talk too fast or ramble about topics that aren’t pertinent.

You should communicate clearly and confidently. Practicing answers to common interview questions ahead of time is a smart move.

    6. Ask questions

You’re the interviewer too. The college representative may be interviewing you, but you’re also trying to decide if this college is a good fit for you.

Be prepared to ask questions and have them answered to your satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, either.

    7. Talk about your goals

Here it is: the whole point of the interview.

The college representative wants to know what you’ll do with your education. You should take the opportunity to discuss your dreams—beyond your application information.

This interview is your chance to give the college deeper insight about your talents, interests, and goals, not just the list of achievements on your resume. Emphasize where you expect your education will take you in the future.

    8. Be passionate

Bring energy to the interview!

You may have all the intelligence and talent in the world, but if you don’t show your passion, no one will ever know.

Note: Passion and too much caffeine are different. Avoid crossing the line into hyper.

    9. Show your interest

Here it is: the whole other point of the interview. The college representative wants to know whether you really want to attend.

It would be a waste of everyone’s time if you left the college wondering. Be sure to express how much you’d like to be a student at the university.

    10. Follow up

On your way out, ask for the contact information of the person you meet with to send them a note of thanks. It’s appropriate to wait about a week after the interview before reiterating your gratitude for the meeting and reminding them about your interest.

Mailing a handwritten letter is classy, but a professional email is fine too. (And, seriously, check it over for grammar and punctuation before you send.)

Thank the college representative for their time and the information they shared with you.

Send a follow-up message to the college as well so they know that the interview occurred.

This is your chance to shine. Seize the moment!

For interview preparation help, contact KD College Prep’s College Counseling Division.