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The use of Skype for admissions interviews is becoming ever more prevalent.

Wake Forest on its website tells you, “We take interviews personally… Whether face-to-face or via webcam, it is our priority to put a personality with a name in our search for future Wake Forest students. The interview provides us with a personal and unrehearsed component to the admissions process…”

Wake Forest is not alone. Pitzer, Oberlin, Bryn Mawr, and NYU Tisch frequently perform Skype interviews in their admissions process.

From the standpoint of optimizing your interview there is a tried and trusted checklist of items that you need to follow prior to your Skype interview. 

First, test your computer equipment before the interview. Make sure that Skype is recognizing your webcam and that your voice can be heard. There is nothing worse than getting to the computer right before the call and realizing that the system has incompatibilities.

Second, make sure that your background is clear and uncluttered. The last thing you want is amess behind you that will distract your interviewer and broadcast a lack of professionalism and discipline to the very person you’re seeking to impress. Along the same lines, prior to the Skype meeting corral your pets and siblings and inform them that you cannot be disturbed during the interview. Control for all interruptions.

Practice your presentation. Get a clear sense of how you’re coming across on screen. Look into the camera not gaze at the screen. Do not over gesticulate; this can become quite awkward on Skype (especially if there are delays in the transmission). Consequently, get a friend to connect with you via Skype and learn exactly how you come across.

Prepare for the interview and treat it as if it were face to face. Dress appropriately, neither too formal but certainly not too casual. It’s best to wear neutral solid colors. Shades of black, blue, and grey are best as they don’t distract the interviewer. Plaids and stripes are best avoided. Remember, it’s always a good idea to smile. Speak clearly and slowly.

That covers the mechanics of the Skype interview; now let’s consider the substance: the more you know about the college, the department of interest, and have reviewed the core curriculum and requirements, the more comfortable you’re going to be in the interview.

Of equal importance is to know why the school interests you. Remember, you are attempting to make a match. The interview is your forum for explaining why your admission will benefit both you and the school. If you can clearly make your case, consider your interview a success.

Try to find out ahead of time who will be interviewing you. You will, in most cases, be interviewing with one of the following: an admissions officer, an alumnus, or possibly a current student. Before the interview look over the list of admissions officers (usually found on the school’s website)

Always try to anticipate the interview questions. They all fall into one of the following categories: academic life and interests, personal life, extracurricular activities, and college and future goals. Additionally, it’s a given that at the end of the interview you’ll be asked if you have any questions. Have at least two, such as the interviewer’s experience at the school, or what course or teacher should not be missed.

Even if you don’t have time to meticulously prepare for whichever type of interviews await you, log into your Skype interview smiling, with a positive attitude, show you’re committed to learning, try to relax and enjoy the interview. If you establish rapport and the interview becomes almost a conversation, be it slightly delayed, you’re there. Good things come when the real you Skypes through.

Ralph Becker, founder of Ivy College Prep, LLC and a resident of Long Beach, has been counseling students for the last 10 years. A former Yale Alumni interviewer, he holds a certificate in college counseling from UCLA Extension, and has published SAT* Vocab 800.

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