Bad college interviews


THE BEGINNING of senior year is a chaotic, stressful time. As we fill out a slew of college applications, teachers continue to bombard us with a mountain of homework. Add to that the remaining 10% of the college process: the shudder-inducing college interview. What questions should I ask the interviewer? What questions will be thrown at us? “If you could invite three people, living or dead, to lunch, who would you invite and why? If you were a bicycle, what part would you be? If your life had a theme song, what would it be?” Most importantly, how do we make ourselves stand out to the interviewer, who has probably already met tens, maybe hundreds of students who are equally qualified? The interview is indeed a nerve-wracking experience, one that may easily go downhill. We have gathered a compilation of interview tidbits that did not go as planned:

My college interviewer tried to shoot me down each time I said something. He would either respond with a nod, a critique, or a “Why? Explain your answer.” He also cursed every three minutes.

—Stephanie Tsai

I was nervous about making a good impression, but it turned out that I would have no chance to make an impression at all. After a stunningly fast introduction (name, college, graduation year) he talked incessantly for the next hour or so while I attempted to interrupt his monologue. Then he laughed, wished me the best of luck, and walked me out of Panera.

—Maxine Chan

How do you tell your interviewer to hurry up? Imagine: three weeks go by, seven emails are sent, and zero emails are received. It seemed that my interviewer had forgotten and abandoned me. I picked up the phone to call him, but what would I have said? “My college career is in your hands, and you’re wrecking it”? I picked up the phone to hear him say, “Oh… hey, I totally forgot about the interview. You should have emailed me.”

—Keerthan Harish

Being none the wiser, I chose to sit behind the largest wall divider in the entire café to wait for her arrival. When I stood up to greet her, I admitted that this was my first interview, and she, equally nervous, admitted that this was her first time interviewing as well. We sat down simultaneously, she without taking off her backpack, and I bundled up to the nose with jacket and scarf. We “talked” for less than fifteen minutes before hitting a dead and awkward silence.

—Maxine Chan

On my interview date, I foolishly left for that Starbucks interview site without my cell phone. However, it turned out I went to the wrong Starbucks, and I ended up arriving 30 minutes late. Once I arrived, I found out that my interviewer and I both played the euphonium and she quickly let my lateness slide!

—Eric Qian

My interview at a lawyer’s house felt more like an interrogation than a conversation. She mostly asked questions and took notes. Meanwhile, her son was in the living room playing “Call of Duty” and making all kinds of noises, which made the experience even more awkward.

—Monika Masanam

One of my interviewers was a nice but persnickety man who had graduated from his college in the 1950s. He was an MBA, so we spent half an hour discussing not me, him, or the college, but the cashflow, debt, and accounting standards of my family business.

—Katherine Ye

The college interview is one of the most cringe-worthy components of the college application process because, as you can see, anything can go wrong. In fact, something will go wrong: the interview may be too short, too informal, or too awkward; you could be late, the interviewer could be late, or… the interviewer’s son could be in the living room playing “Call of Duty.” But it’s okay; just keep calm and carry on.

One thought on “Bad college interviews

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