Cecil Says: How to Have a Successful Interview at Pitzer!

Claire Bacon Emily Munoz

When it comes to interviews, everyone has an opinion. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

Bill Gates added, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

And let’s not forget comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who famously opined, “Dating is pressure and tension. What is a date, really, but a job interview that lasts all night?”

Interviews, particularly college interviews, can be nerve-wracking experiences. But according to Emily Munoz and Claire Bacon, Admission Fellows at Pitzer College, the key is to be genuine.

“Be yourself in the interview,” advises Emily, a senior psychology major at Pitzer “Be sure that you get everything that you want us to know out in an interview, because it only benefits you.”

According to Claire, another senior who designed a major in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, a college interview is NOT a good time to be modest!

“Even though it can be a little nerve-wracking talking about yourself, this is the time when you can brag about yourself,” says Claire “Talk about what matters to you, and about the meaningful experiences you’ve had. Tell us about those unique details that tell us more than your resume will. That’s what makes interviews interesting and engaging!”

At Pitzer, individual interviews provide students with the opportunity to both tell the Admission Committee about them, and learn more about Pitzer from and Admission Counselor or an Admission Fellow.

Claire and Emily are two of 10 Admission Fellows who will be conducting interviews throughout the upcoming academic year. In addition to interviewing, Admission Fellows (all current Pitzer seniors) conduct information sessions and participate in prospective student outreach throughout the year.

“One of Pitzer’s Core Values is Student Engagement, and I think that should apply to everything that happens at Pitzer,” says Emily “The College is always changing, so it’s important to have a student voice within the Admission Office so that prospective students know what’s going on with the student body.”

For Claire, who transferred to Pitzer, the opportunity to serve as a Fellow was an opportunity to help other students think about fit.

“It was so important to me to find where I fit that I went through the transfer process twice!” recalls Claire “I wanted to be involved in the process of finding out not just who’s academically prepared, but who really fits in with the Pitzer culture. I wanted to be able to help those students figure out what Pitzer is, and whether it really fits them as a person.”

Interviews at Pitzer are recommended, but not required. Students have the option of interviewing face-to-face with a Counselor or a Fellow, or conducting phone or Skype interviews.

Pitzer also gives students the opportunity to upload a short video interview through LikeLive, an interactive online platform that similar to YouTube. Uploaded videos will be evaluated by the Admission Committee when the applicant’s file is discussed during committee.

Early Decision I applicants must complete their interviews by December 1, while Early Decision II and Regular Decision applicants have until December 15 to interview with the College.

In order to help prospective students prepare for their Pitzer interview, Emily and Claire offer up some tips and suggestions about how to leave a good impression on your interviewer and learn more about Pitzer in the process:

Do your homework!

Claire: The best, most engaging interviews are the ones where students are knowledgeable about Pitzer, and can apply the Core Values to their lives and make connections between the Values and their interests. Pitzer is such a unique institution that students should do their homework in order to know what Pitzer is. Knowing just a little bit about us, even if it’s just information from the website, goes a long way towards creating an effective interview.

Again, be yourself!

Claire: It sounds cheesy, but be yourself! It’s true that an interview is not the most organic situation, but try to let your personality shine through anyway.

Practice your interview.

Emily: A good interview leaves a good impression on the Admission Committee. If anyone offers to help you practice, take advantage of that opportunity. It will make you feel more comfortable with the process. A college interview shouldn’t be the first time you find yourself in that position.

Claire: I’ve seen a lot of kids who are so nervous, they’re either very quiet, or they stumble over their own words. Eventually they might engage with me, but if they had gotten to that point sooner, the interview would have been more informative.

Watch the fidgeting!

Emily: Don’t bring anything into the interview that will cause you to fidget. I’ve seen people bring things like folders, and play with them the entire time. If you bring your handbag with you, put it on the ground. If you leave it on your shoulder, you will want to play with it the whole time. It’s distracting for me as an interviewer, because if you’re focused on something else the entire time, you’re not looking at me, and I don’t feel like you’re engaged or connected.”

Talk about Pitzer…that’s the college you’re here to see!

Claire: Remember – you are interviewing at Pitzer, not at the Claremont University Consortium. The Claremont Colleges do share resources, but Pitzer is a very distinctive institution, and talking about Pomona, Scripps, or even a program offered at another school won’t make the best impression on your interviewer.

Emily: You can ask questions about other schools and how the Consortium works, but remember that your interview is about your fit at Pitzer.

Ask effective questions.

Claire: You should always ask a few questions during your college interview because every school is unique. I have a hard time believing that students don’t have any questions, because I’ve been here for two years and I still have questions about Pitzer! There should be something you want to know more about. I get asked about why I chose Pitzer frequently, which is good.

Emily: Ask what makes Pitzer different form other liberal arts schools. If you ask that, it tells me you’re interested in Pitzer for its own sake!

Click here for more information about interviewing at Pitzer College!