Why is an interview important?
An interview is a chance for you to meet with someone who represents the college. It’s a great way to show your interest in the college, to start a relationship with people there and to show what you’re all about.
Interviews vary according to the type of course, but there are some standard questions you should be ready to answer:
- What do you know about the subjects you are applying to study?
- Why are you interested in these subjects?
- Why do you want to attend this college/sixth form in particular?
- What can you contribute to this college/sixth form?
- What extra-curricular activities do you currently do?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- Have you ever done any volunteering?
- What activities do you find most rewarding?
- What is your favourite book?
- What do you want to do after leaving college/sixth form?
- What careers are you considering?
- What makes you more suitable for the course than another applicant with the same grades?
- What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
- What 3 adjectives best describe you?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
These may all seem pretty basic – but they’ll help open up a discussion and let you show the interviewer how well you’d fit in the course.
Ideas for Answers
Talk about what you’ve learned about the college/sixth form and why you feel it’s the right place for you. (Remember that you have to research a college/sixth form ahead of time to answer this type of question well. Going to an open evening is a good start!) Discuss your extra-curricular activities and achievements that show your character.
Give examples of how your chosen adjectives describe you. Talk about how you’ve used your strengths to accomplish something. Talk about how you overcome your weaknesses. For example, you can say, “I have a hard time learning new languages, so I set aside more time to study them.”
Think about the why: Why are those activities the most rewarding? Why is a book your favourite? If you have a career in mind, talk about why you’re interested in the subjects you have chosen. Discuss how you think college/sixth form can help you meet your goals. Be sincere and honest in your answer — don’t say things just to impress the interviewer.
Robert Allan, a depute faculty head at Cumbernauld College, says a successful interview often comes down to attention to detail.
‘Things like being on time, bringing along supporting documents and even appearing interested in what I’m saying are all noted,’ he says. ‘Be aware of the little things – even offensive language in your email address!’
Have a conversation. Don’t try to memorize a script.
- Ask questions. Do express your interest in the college/sixth form.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to answer questions based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
- Prepare. Do practice interviews with friends or family. Take turns asking questions.
- Dress Smartly. Your appearance is part of your first impression. Dressing smartly shows that you are taking the process seriously and it is important to you.
What’s expected of you
The interviewer wants to see that you’ve thought about all aspects of college/sixth form life. You could talk about things like meeting new people or how you’ll adapt to the change between school and college.
They also want to hear you talk honestly about your choices and achievements. If you didn’t get the result you wanted in a certain exam, you can talk about why that happened and what you’ve learnt from it.
Bring along evidence or documents to show what you’ve achieved, such as exam results or examples of work that you’ve done – anything that says a bit about who you are.
If you’ve got questions, don’t be shy! It shows that you’re interested.
Carla Gethin, a department head at City of Glasgow College, says, ‘We understand that you will have hopes for your future so don’t be afraid to ask whether the course you are considering can help you with those goals, even if they are a few years away.’
Remember, the interviewer is not trying to trick you. They just want to hear that you have the maturity to take the next step in your studies and are making the right choice.