August 11, 2011 by Steph Kumah
After interviewing prospective students, I’ve learned a lot about what makes an interviewer great. However, instead of discussing what to do during the interview, this post will explore the ways in which an interviewee can shine after the interview is over. Confused? That’s okay. I’m actually referring to the question portion of the interview when I ask the student if they have any questions for me. As odd as it might sound, this part of the interview tells me a lot about whether a student is truly passionate about W&M. Therefore, this post will provide some advice about questions after interviews.
It is worth emphasizing that there is no right or wrong question to ask; however, some questions are better than others. What separates a good question from a not so good question? Personally, I prefer questions that demonstrate that a student has really done their research. If the answer to your question is online or can be very easily found, I will answer it, but I will be a little disappointed. Granted, our website can be very difficult to navigate, so if you really can’t find something, ask! Nevertheless, as a student of W&M, I can answer the questions that are harder to find on our website. So, for example, if you’re interested about what campus life is really like or what students do to have fun – ask me! I love answering questions, and telling students about W&M, especially since it allows me to reflect on the reasons I love this place so much. So, ask me questions that a) you really can’t find the answer to, and b) could only be answered by a W&M student.
What questions do impress me? It’s hard to say; the best questions I have had vary in subject and in scope. Nevertheless, I will say that the most memorable questions have made me reflect, think, and reminisce about my time at W&M. Above all, these questions have demonstrated that the student has really reflected upon his or her choice to interview at W&M. So, really take time to reflect upon why you want to attend W&M. You’ll often be surprised by what questions surface.
If it’s any consolation, when I interviewed for colleges, I usually did not ask questions. Looking back, I wish I had. Not asking a question can be just as bad as asking a question that is not well thought out. Why? It suggests a genuine lack of interest. Imagine meeting someone for the first time. They ask you lots of questions, and they really make an effort to get to know you. A pause follows, and the person you’re speaking to expects you to ask him or her about themselves, but you decide to say nothing. He or she makes a last ditch effort to avoid a longer pause, one which could become awkward. Now, think back to his or facial expression during the pause. This expression reflects the way I feel when students don’t ask me questions: surprised and a little disappointed.
So, my biggest advice to interviewees would be to ask a question – one that shows forethought and demonstrates your sincere interest in W&M.