Interviewing with a college will likely not make or break the chance that a given student will be accepted into a university. There are always exceptions but few students would say or do something so ridiculous as to get such a strong reaction from a college representative.
My approach in prepping a student for an interview is to have them step back and look at their situation from my point of view. The subject of the interview is the student and the student is the leading expert on the planet about that subject. I ask them the question, “who knows more about you than you”? The college representative wants to learn about the applicant. Give them what they want. Instead of trying to figure out what the interviewer wants to hear, answer the questions they ask as candidly as is appropriate.
Recently, I sat down with a student who had decided to write out responses to expected questions. This of course, made him sound as though he was running for political office when I asked a question and his answer had very little to do with providing the information I wanted. After explaining to him the many reasons that wouldn’t work, I explained what the interview is for and that the interviewer is not there to trip him up or ask questions that have no answer. In fact, the situation is exactly the opposite of those things. The interviewer wants to learn about the applicant, so teach them. Tell them what you think, what you believe and ask questions you want the answer to.
Somehow, all the things about an interview that seem so obvious became ah-ha moments for the student. I can’t help but smile picturing the transformation as anxiety was replaced by relief and confidence. If I were a betting man, I would bet that there are several great interviews ahead for this student now that the mystery and fear have been put to rest.