Seven Interview Tips from Admission Tour Guides
When a prospective family arrives on campus for an admission interview, one of the first things they will experience is the campus tour. Here at The Hill School - and at most boarding schools - the tour will be led by a current student tour guide. This student often is the first person with whom a visiting family will have contact while on campus. It's important to engage your tour guide. They have lots of information to share with you, but the more questions you and your family can ask, the more you’ll learn about the student experience at the school.
In this month's blog post asked some of our tour guides the following question: What advice you would give to a student before their very first interview? Below are their answers, which we hope will be helpful to prospective families who are preparing for their visit to The Hill School.
Don't be nervous. Our admission officers are looking to have a conversation and learn more about you as a person: what are your interests, what are your values, etc. The interview is simply an evaluation of your personality and your compatibility with The Hill community. Simply put - be yourself!
Be authentic. Be 100% true to who you are and trust that The Hill School will find great value in welcoming you to our community. The Hill celebrates our unique community and we are proud of the fact that our students - from all different backgrounds - can call Hill a home.
I always encourage prospective students to open up and talk during their interview and not just give one-word answers. Admission officers are interested in seeing if you’d be a good fit for the School, so they really do want to know know all about you. It also helps to go into detail and look/act like you want to be there - maintain eye contact and smile!
The most important part about the interview process is to know yourself and to be able to discuss how you feel about being in an environment like The Hill School. The style of the interview is to get to know the prospective student better and how they would potentially fit into a community like ours. Most importantly, they should be aware that they are going to come out of the interview knowing that they had nothing to worry about from the start.
The interview is one of the most important parts of the admission process because it is an opportunity for the admission officers to really get to know you. Your experience will be that much better if you simply have a relaxed conversation with the person interviewing you.
One of the best things to do during the interview is make everything positive. It is important to paint yourself in the best light, so don’t feel bad about sharing your accomplishments, passions, and stories. I believe that the best interviews are less question-and-answer, and more like a conversation.
Stay true to yourself and the questions won't really require a lot of thinking. Also, it is okay to ask the interviewer to repeat a question or to clarify. Go into your interview it like it's a normal conversation you would have when you are introducing yourself to someone you don't know well.
Read Past Blog Posts:
So how do you get the most out of your time on a campus? Read on to make sure your visit is the best it can be:
Be On Time:
It sounds simple, but it goes a long way towards ensuring an enjoyable campus visit! Appointment times often mirror a school’s daily schedule, so tour guides might only be available during their free period. Send a confirmation email to the Admission Office a day or two before your visit to make sure the date and time are correct. In that same email, be sure to ask the Admission Office about campus entrances and directions to the office once on campus - you don't want to be late because you can't find the building! (Bonus Advice: Be sure you are dressed appropriately for your visit. Ask the Admission Office before hand or check the website for student dress code and match that - it's what we do here at The Hill). And if you end up running late – don’t worry, we understand. However, we would appreciate if you could call ahead with an updated time of arrival so we can start planning any changes that need to be made.
Handshakes and First Impressions:
You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s true: you only get one chance to make a first impression. When you arrive at the Admission Office, remember to shake hands, make eye contact, and don’t be afraid to smile! And remember, the people who work in the Admission Office are doing the same thing – we want you and your family to feel comfortable and welcome.
The Campus Tour:
We could probably dedicate an entire blog just to campus tours, but for now, here is some advice to keep in mind as you head onto campus:
- Engage your tour guide. Here at The Hill - and at most schools - you will tour campus with a current student. They have lots of information to share with you, but the more questions you and your family can ask, the more you’ll learn about the student experience at the school.
- Pay attention to the other students, faculty, and staff that you see while you are walking around. Do they seem happy? Do they say hello? Are the classroom environments active and engaged? What is the ‘feel’ of the campus, in general?
- Take a good look around campus. Is the campus in good condition? Is it clean and well maintained? Are the buildings updated and in good repair? Is there construction ongoing or planned?
Coaches and Program Leaders:
For the most part, a campus visit will include time spent with a tour guide as well as a representative from the Admission Office. But why stop there? If you have a particular passion or talent that is important to you and will play a part in how you evaluate schools, then you should ask to meet with a representative from that program or team while you are on campus. This is not an imposition in anyway, especially if it helps the Admission Office tailor your visit to you! If the coach/program leader happens to be busy or away from campus, you can still ask for their email address (or look it up on the website) to make contact and learn more about them and their program. Here at The Hill, you'll often find prospective students in the Meigs House talking with Mr. Baum about ice hockey or Mrs. Neiswender about the Orchestra or Jazz Ensemble.
Stay in Touch:
It is a good habit to send thank you notes (emails are fine!) after your visits. You can reach out to tour guides, admission representatives, program leaders/coaches - just about anyone who may have helped you and your family learn more about the school. But beyond that, staying in touch with a school not only conveys how much you enjoyed the visit, but also how excited you are at the opportunity to join the community in the future. It will also encourage the school to stay in touch with you over the coming months so that you can continue learning more as you decide where you would like to apply!