Top Tips to Smash Your College Interview
Once you’ve completed that all important application, the next thing you’ve got to tick off your check list is the interview. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie, and you don’t need to be nervous beforehand! We asked some of our tutors and course team leaders what they look for in candidates for their courses, and we’ve come up with some handy tips to prepare you for your interview.
Please note: Due to the current situation, our interviews will take place over video call or the phone.
1. It’s not all about your grades!
Yes we ask you for your predicted GCSE grades, but we are by no means judging you by them. We just need to know what level of qualification would suit you best so we know you won’t struggle with the amount and level of work. Yes, your grades are important, but they are not the be all and end all of your education.
Louise James, Head of School for Business and Management, said: “We use the consultation process to see the application as a whole person, rather than just a series of application form notes and exam grades”. Remember that our entry requirements are there to check that you’ll be able to cope with your chosen course. We know from experience what demands are made of students on each course, and what makes a successful student.
Kieran Grimes, Head of School for Care Professions and Access, advised: “Grades are important due to accessing the appropriate level of programme, however they are not the only area we look for. We are looking for commitment, stick-ability, sustainability and resilience to see the study programme through to the end”.
2. Keep cool, calm and collected
We know the thought of an interview can be nerve-wracking, can bring on a case of the butterflies and can even cause the sweats in some severe cases, but please don’t panic about your interview. All of our staff have experience dealing with all sorts of students coming from a huge variety of backgrounds – so you don’t need to worry about feeling out of place. “We actively seek out a candidate’s strengths and areas where they may need development, to reassure them that no barriers are insurmountable, and that they are confident in asking for help at this stage”, said Louise James.
Coming to College is a very big step, and if you’re coming straight from school the likelihood is that you may not have had any form of interview before. It may be worth asking your parents to do a mock-interview with you, and get them to ask you questions such as “why do you want to study this course?”, “what have you done to demonstrate your passion for this subject?”, “are you better at working in a team or in a group?”, and other similar questions that you are likely to discuss at your consultation.
3. Stand out from the crowd
All of our tutors interview hundreds of candidates each year – that’s a lot of names and faces to remember! Just like a job interview, it’s important to make yourself memorable. Louise looks for candidates who are confident, personable and can engage in a conversation with the interviewers, rather than someone who can just churn out stock interview phrases. “The main things we look for in a candidate is that they can demonstrate an interest and passion about the subject, and have a vision of where they think this programme could take them in the future”, said Kieran Grimes.
4. Make a fab first impression
First impressions are everything. Well, most of the time! It’s likely that you wouldn’t have met the tutor interviewing you before, you might have spoken to them at a previous open event, but not in an interview situation. “Punctuality, preparation and appropriate use of language is essential to making a good first impression at College”, said Kieran Grimes. Something as simple as not chewing gum, making sure your clothes are clean and making eye contact with your interviewer can make a huge impact on a first impression, especially through video call.
We hope these tips are helpful to you, but we’ve got one more tip which is probably the most important. Be yourself!
What NOT to do…
- Be late
- Dress inappropriately (no hoodies, trainers or tracksuits!)
- Be silent/don’t ask any questions
- Check your phone (put it on silent!)
- Forget the name of your interviewer
- Be unprepared