Don’t #6: During your college interview, don’t be canned

This article is part of a series, 10 Tips for Acing Your College Interviews.

Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans. 1962

I whole-heartedly endorse the notion that you should prepare for college interviews. So kudos to you for reading these posts. That being said, you don’t want to get too carried away with the whole preparation thing.

The point of preparing is to add depth to your thoughts about the topics you’ll discuss during the interview.

It’s not to painstakingly craft the perfect answers, commit them to memory, then spit them out verbatim at what you’ve determined (perhaps erroneously) is the perfect moment.

An analogy might help: think of your interview performance less as a play and more like improv. Sure, improv actors prepare. They do exercises, alone and in teams. They learn an established set of sketch formats. They even go so far as to develop a repertoire of at-the-ready phrases and characters to trot out in a pinch. But the whole point of improv is to—you guessed it—improvise.

Like an improv show, the interview needs to feel spontaneous.

Of course, unlike an improv show, the interview probably shouldn’t involve risqué jokes, slapstick pratfalls, or abrupt shifts from one outlandish caricature to another. This last bit of advice is for the drama lovers reading this. You know who you are.

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Dr. Sean

Dr. Sean

Co-Founder at Readerly
Dr. Sean has over a decade of teaching experience at universities in the US and Asia. He earned a BA with honors from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of London. You can read more about his teaching and research here.
Dr. Sean