Undergraduate Admission Blog

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December 1, 2015

Hello from the other side….

Interviews…another part of the college application process. We’re currently finishing up our on-campus interviews through the end of November (Thanksgiving excluded.)   You might also see us conducting interviews in cities near you throughout the United States. At this point in the process, it’s possible you’ve already gone through a few college interviews, and I’m sure at the end you left with either feelings of success, disappointment, excitement or a variety of other adjectives that could describe the uncertainty that is an interview. Hopefully I can give you a little insight into what we are thinking during those 30 minutes.

Our interviews generally last around 25 minutes and we as admission counselors, spend afternoons, from 1:30 pm until 4:30 pm, interviewing around five students. So, what’s actually going through our minds when we sit down across the table from you? Well, that largely depends on you…

Are you visibly nervous? Sweating? About to break down in tears? If the answer is yes, then I am most likely hoping that I can get you to calm down. I will generally start off with questions that have clear cut answers: Tell me what classes you are taking this semester…What book are you reading in English right now? Students don’t have to think about these questions, they already have the answers. Hopefully, this helps the person calm down, and we can have a relaxed conversation. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Most of the time students feel comfortable pretty quickly once they realize the true nature of this interview. The main ideas I try to extract from students are the following: 1) does this person know why they are applying to USC? Is there something specific they’ve seen here that is attractive to them? 2) Can this student think critically? Can they answer a question that requires though or might not have an obvious answer? 3) Are they confident in their abilities and are they sure they can succeed at USC? College is hard and we want people who want to be here.

The vast majority of my interviews go smoothly with very few bumps in the road. There are of course moments when I repeat myself because I can’t remember if I’ve asked a question during this interview, or the one right before it. So in advance, please forgive me if I ask you the same question twice. My goal during an interview is to get a solid conversation going so it feel less like an interview, and more like one person trying to get to know another. So just come with an open mind, greet us with excitement (hopefully genuine), and everything will go smoothly.

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