Do you remember in basic training when Drill Sergeant asked you “Are you stupid or are you putting in a special effort today?” or implied you were an alien and inquired “What solar system are you from?”  If you could handle those questions then you will be able to deal with any question a college admission officer or alumni interviewer throws at you.  Interview skills are essential, not only for colleges but also for your follow on job search.  Rest assured, after you join the civilian world interviews become a way of life. In some ways, your interview are a bit like boards for promotion or NCO of the quarter. You will wholesale nba jerseys be asked questions about your knowledge and experience. Similarly, you will be gauged by your professionalism and potential for future success. A few tips we’ve found successful:

  • Research yourself and your target institution

First, take time to think about your accomplishments in the military.  What are you proud of?  What specific achievements did you reach?  For example, did you take a bunch of soldiers right out of basic training and prepare them for a deployment?  That story could be used to highlight your leadership, your communication, or your ability to work hard.  While deployed did you help keep a soldier going through a divorce focused on the mission?  A story like that highlights a unique challenge of the military lifestyle and could be used to demonstrate your maturity level and ability to handle ambiguous situations.  Similarly, you should be prepared to answer questions that acknowledge areas of weakness which you would like to improve upon, e.g.  “What is the hardest thing you have ever done?” or “What areas in your life, leadership, or academic studies do you think need improvement?” The next step is to know what stories, in particular, you may want to tell.  Researching your target institution answers that question.

Simply, google “target school interview questions.”  Typically, you will be able to find 20-30 questions that admissions officers from that school have asked in the past.  Those are the questions you want to be ready for.  They usually include questions like: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years, Tell me about yourself, Walk me through your resume, Why this school.”  So how do you match part a (self research) and part b (school research)?  You use a framework…..


  • Use a framework to match stories to questions

Imagine yourself in an interviewer’s office.  To your front is a desk with typical objects of personality, a framed picture of a loved one, a painting from a favorite trip, maybe a paperweight with a meaningful slogan.  The office and furniture itself is the opposite of personality, everything neutral beige.   You’re nervous as you sit down.  Butterflies in your stomach are going into a frenzy as the admission’s officer asks you to tell her about yourself.  That is when the butterflies erupt from your mouth and you begin to ramble about the military and your inspirational mom and how much you love the school and how excited you are and, and, and……all the while the admissions officer looks as if you are out of your mind.

You don’t want that!  It is very easy to ramble when you are nervous.  Frameworks help you stay focused and put some structure into your interview responses.  There are many interview frameworks out there, but we like to use the SPAR form.  SPAR stands for Summary Problem Action Resolution.  It would go something like this:

Admissions Officer: “Tell me about a time you solved a problem”

Candidate: “Well, I’d like to tell you about how I was able to decrease emergency response time 50% using cultural knowledge and leadership” (Summary)

“My job was to work with Iraqi National Police in Sadr City, only they didn’t want to work.  It took them hours to deal with emergency situations.  These emergencies included anything from an explosive device in an area Here to a car accident” (Problem)

“From studying the culture, I knew that I had to establish trust with their leader and from personal experience I Evian knew that all they needed to do was practice more.  Thus, the police chief and I amplía had frequent tea and discussions.  wholesale jerseys I found that Are the chief thought Bed that cheap nba jerseys his policemen’s response time was adequate. I decided to show him a video tape of his policemen smoking and merch joking when they should have been responding to an emergency” (Action)

“Our frequent teas established trust so that when I showed him the video he knew that I had the best interest of the police 101 at wholesale jerseys heart.  He agreed to allow me to hold more training exercises which reduced response time from 2 hours to 1 hour.  This critical hour allowed us to save Iraqi lives and help bring cheap nfl jerseys stability to Sadr City.” (Resolution)

  • Be authentic and enthusiastic

Just like in networking, you want to be energetic but not overdone.  The admissions officer will have been conducting interviews all day, you want to be the one that brightens up her day.  Get excited about the opportunity to go to school.  Think about how so many doors will open for you as a result of getting a degree.  Consider how much better your life will be when you have the security of a college graduate.  Do whatever you need to do mentally to get excited about your future and let that into your voice and actions

  • Treat each question as an opportunity

At the interview, you should know what the interviewer will ask and you should know exactly what stories you want to tell.  You should also have conducted informationals with current and former students and know a good deal about the school itself.  So when the interviewer asks you a question such as “How do you feel about relocating to go to school?” You don’t simply say “I feel good about it.”  Use every question as an opportunity to show off your hard won knowledge.  Instead of a simple answer, say “After talking with John Doe, who is currently a veteran and political science major here, I think that the best place for me to live would be in the West Village.  I think the atmosphere is pleasant and it is close to school.” 

  • Prepare good questions to ask the admissions officer

At the end of any interview, the interviewer will ask you if you have questions.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE INTERVIEW.  The candidates that win admission ask smart, pertinent questions.  They don’t ask about things they could find out on the website.  They ask questions that show off their knowledge.  They ask questions that are insightful.  They ask questions like “John Doe told me that Damodaran’s Corporate finance class is not to be missed, what other professors or classes should I make sure to take.”  You should prepare 5 very, very good questions to ask your interviewer.

If you prepare and are enthusiastic you will score big points during the interview and maybe even have a little fun.  Remember, the interview is your opportunity to tell your story and win admission.