By Tina Wu | Co-founder & COO
As we’re approaching the peak of college/ university admissions interview season, I have been working with my students on preparing for interviews for the past few weeks. Many students are intimidated by interviews – the recurring misconception amongst the student community is that you need to be extroverted to make a good impression!
But this is simply not true. There are frameworks to train students to be ready for interviews. For expressive students, we coach them to structure their responses to stay focused; for students who are quieter in nature, we train them to articulate their insights in a passionate and understandable manner so they can build a meaningful connection with their interviewers.
But a common principle holds true to acing any kind of university interview: showing, not just telling. Let’s see how we apply this principle to different types of questions:
1. On showing academic passion: Academic passion is one of the most crucial questions asked, but students tend to breeze through the answers (‘I would like to study biomedical sciences because biology is my favorite class’) without offering genuine motivation. We often encourage students to reflect and ground their answers in personal stories – where did you discover your passion? What have you done to pursue that passion further? Write down these anecdotes to SHOW your passion.
2. On showing leadership and other core values: Key attributes (such as leadership) are never self-proclaimed but are shown through actions. Students sometimes can confuse roles with personal attributes (i.e., I have shown leadership because I was head of my school’s student union), yet, leadership is often DEMONSTRATED in specific situations such as leading a team through a challenging situation. The actions you have taken support the value you believe in.
3. On overcoming challenges: students from this region often have trouble answering this commonly asked question ‘what is your greatest failure to date, and what did you learn from it?’ (Please, don’t tell me your greatest failure was struggling in your Math/ English/ Science class!). None of us can’t fake a failure or challenge; we encourage students to run projects that let them venture out of their comfort zones and build their own ‘overcoming challenge’ stories.
Let me clarify one last thing – the preparation for university interviews starts way before your final year of high school. It’s an accumulation of your experiences throughout your teenage years.