Are you in your final year of high school? If your answer is yes, that means you are thinking about applying to certain universities. But as you are writing your motivation letter or Curriculum Vitae, you might start wondering, how you will be able to get through an interview, what you should prepare or if you can even do it. Search no more because I am here to be your guide through the magnificent and nerve-wracking experience that is applying to your dream university.

I am writing this as there have been 10 days since I have received the news that I was accepted to my dream university and let me tell you, it was the most difficult thing I had to endure. I had to take a few tests, a group assignment and an interview. Trust me, I have asked myself the questions above, and I now think I have cracked the code and can tell you how to succeed (disclaimer: I applied to top Hospitality and Business Administration universities from the Netherlands and Switzerland which usually have a more difficult admission process but these tips will help you with any kind of interview).

In this blog post, I will focus strictly on the interview experience. I have had 4 interviews with different universities and I can say that these tips applied to every single one of them.

Make sure you know everything about the university you are applying to especially if you have an interview. You have to know their philosophy, what makes them unique, what subjects they are focusing on and what they are expecting from their students. You should know the year it was founded, the main courses they teach, and what their aim is. Typical questions refer to their courses and what you expect to learn. It is really important to have high expectations from a university and let them know that you are going to be an excellent student. This is the perfect time to show your motivation towards the university and you will let the interviewer know how keen you are on that particular university.

This is what kept me going in every interview. No matter what the interviewer is asking you, you have to give them an answer. Even if you are unsure, you have to talk. It is always better than freezing or saying you don’t know. If you are unsure what he meant by the question, you can ask for more details. A strategy I used to prepare for my interviews was to write down some questions and thinking of potential answers and writing them down. You should expect to be asked about why you what to study at that particular university, why you are the best candidate for them, why you want to study in that country and where you see yourself after graduating.

!!! If you were asked to write a motivation letter and a Curriculum Vitae, make sure you know everything you wrote in them because the interviewer is likely to ask about them. He/she is either going to ask you to elaborate about one of the projects you took part in or about the motivation you have for their university.

Another tip would be to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. You might also need to know that saying you have no weaknesses will not score you more points, on the contrary. You need to be honest about yourself.

Even if you are not a confident person, you have to look like one and try not to worry too much. The interviewer is not there to cause you problems. If you were asked for an interview it means they are already interested in you as a potential student. Another tip I can give you is to maintain eye contact (you can practice with yourself in the mirror), shake their hands and smile. Another thing that might help you is to not expect them to smile back, most of them are trained to be neutral and do not show any signs of satisfaction but this should not discourage you.

Maintaining eye contact will make you seem like you have everything in control even if you are nervous. Furthermore, don not stress too much. You should act as if you are talking to a friend but in a more formal way. You should ALWAYS maintain the formal style of speaking even if your interviewer is not. That may be a strategy to see how formal you are.

This is another important part of the interview. You should always ask questions so the interviewer can see that you are interested. However, do not ask basic questions such as ‘when will we find out the results?”. You have to be original.

Those are the most important tips. If you follow these, I am sure you will have a great interview. I wish you all good luck and I am looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Written by Alexandra Marian