Application Tips from an Admissions Counselor: How to Approach your Interview - Articles | APU Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Application Tips from an Admissions Counselor: How to Approach your Interview

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APU has required an interview for undergraduate admissions for quite some time now. As admissions counselors, we frequently conduct interviews with our applicants. We often receive requests for tips and advice, and although there is no way to know the exact questions you’ll be asked, we’d like to share some insider info with you here. Here are the ins and outs of the APU interview!

Don’t Worry! We’re not interrogating you!

Some of you may be picturing a dark, unlit room with no windows and a single spotlight shining as we stand over you, preparing to ask a barrage of high-stakes questions. In reality, the best word to describe the 20 minutes we’ll spend together would simply be “communication”. If I were to interview you, I might ask about your passions, topics that interest you, your values, your plans for the future, your hobbies, about social awareness, and academic matters.

We want to know what kind of person you are. You don’t have to pretend to be the person you think would best for the interview. Talk comfortably and communicate with us in a way that you can express yourself the most authentically. So don’t worry! Your interview should be like a fun chat as we get to know more about you!

We don’t expect you to memorize any answers.

While it is good to prepare, it’s best to be spontaneous in your answers—we are most interested in getting to know who you truly are and how you think about things. It’s true that the interview will be your last chance to have a personal impact on your application, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The most useful skill that you can work on in advance is the ability to put your thoughts together logically. You should share with us—not memorize—what you think the perfect answer would be. If you struggle with this or need some practice, our advice is to note down some key points you want to make during the interview, such as why APU interests you, what your passions and values are, etc.

Try to avoid making detailed written notes—just write down keywords. Then, practice describing those things to a friend, a family member, a teacher, or even an animal companion who seems like a good listener! If you are going to have the interview in a language that you are not a native speaker of, practice reading out loud. You can pick up a book passage, news article, anything! This kind of practice can be helpful to develop confidence in speaking and improve your pronunciation and vocabulary as well.

We don’t score you on appearance.

As a community of individuals from many different ethnic and social backgrounds, APU doesn’t have a dress code for interviews. We don’t score your appearance, and we don’t expect you to wear a suit or other formal business attire. That being said, it is important that we can see that you care about your application based on how you present yourself. Dressing neatly and appropriately in a way you are comfortable with will signal to us that you are serious about APU. We also encourage you to sit straight and maintain eye contact when talking. If you find yourself dealing with nerves, take a deep breath and smile! More often than not, we will address you by your first name and create a relaxed atmosphere, so even if there is some tension, it should disappear in no time.

We want you to be you!

As you’ve probably noticed by this point, our main goal is to get to know you for who you are. If you try to act more mature than is natural for you or focus on telling us what you think we want to hear, you’ll end up sounding like every other generic applicant. You want to be able to stand out! A college community is academic and rigorous but must be equally fun to be a part of, and our goal is not to create a group of students that are all the same. Education thrives on the difference of opinions and approaches, and you will also get to know that diversity is the very foundation of APU. Be who you are. You are your own life’s main character! Everyone has ups and downs in life and we want to know more about you who has experienced their own life and is moving forward towards their future.

If you need to be serious to make a point, do it. If you feel like telling a funny anecdote, do it. If you feel uncomfortable expressing your true self, it is likely that APU might not be the right match for you. But don’t worry, if you are working on expressing yourself and want to grow, show and tell us in the interview. We welcome students who want to change themself and grow as a person!

Take the opportunity to be bold in your interview and think of it as a chance to see if the university itself is the right place for you. It’s good to keep in mind that the interview is a chance for us to see if you are a good fit for APU from our end as well. If you consider what our intentions are when we ask you certain questions, it will be easier to know that we are truly on the same page.

It’s not a make-or-break situation.

While the interview is an important part of the application, it’s not the only factor we consider when deciding whether to accept an applicant. After reviewing your written application, the interview helps us get a fuller picture of you by allowing us to fill in more details in any areas we’d like to know more about. Every single detail in your application matters, especially if you are applying for a tuition reduction scholarship. Look at it this way—you can’t do high school all over again, but you can write your application with care and engage with us fully during your interview for the best result possible. If you are applying for a second time, be ready to show us your progress, not just on how articulate you are but also what actions you have taken to improve yourself from the last time we met.

Preparing for an online interview.

We know that an interview under any circumstance can be nerve-wracking and here at APU, in general, our interviews are conducted online over Zoom. Doing an interview online can bring forth a whole new set of possible issues such as a weak internet connection, camera not working, the microphone not carrying your voice well. So before the interview, we recommend making sure Zoom is set up properly and that you can make calls smoothly. It would also be best to make a test call with a friend to make sure your camera and microphone work well. This way you can prepare and join the interview without any worries!

A few extra tips.

Now, before we leave you to it, here are a couple of extra tips from us personally.

Try looking around the admissions website; it can be a good indication of not only the things we may ask you about but also the type of person we are looking for. And a little extra preparation can never hurt! For example, the mission of APU is to contribute to freedom, peace, humanity, international mutual understanding, and the future shape of the Asia Pacific region. We are looking for applicants who embody this idea and can help those around them grow. If you have questions of your own, ask away! Don’t let it be a one-sided interview.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have. It gives us the chance to know more about your interests as well as tell you even more about APU!

We hope this cleared up some questions you may have had. We hope to see you over Zoom. Good luck and remember, you’ve got this!

Admissions Counselor

Admissions Counselor

Sometimes we here in the International Admissions Office put together a blog or two to help prospective students and applicants with tips and advice on applying to APU. Be on the lookout for more from us on how to apply!

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