From the February 2015 issue

Preparing Teens for College Mock Interviews

Picture this: Your teen is taking a college campus tour. Suddenly, an admissions rep pulls him aside for an impromptu interview. Does panic set in? Or is he ready?

That’s happening more frequently than formal face-to-face interviews these days, says Timothy Parros. And they hold weight. It’s one reason his Ann Arbor company, Parros College Planning, has launched a mock-interview prep service.

“It’s kind of off the cuff,” says Parros, a financial planner since 1991. “We want them to be prepared” – adding that even traditional interviews don’t always reveal the topics in advance.

So, at the trial run, staged at the Parros office, a pro interviewer throws a variety of questions at students. It takes up to an hour and is tailored to the schools teens are applying to. They get instant feedback at the end, which is also emailed to them – along with an actual video of the interview, to help further hone those skills.

To lure colleges, Parros says students should think about what they’re involved in. “Are you volunteering? Are you 100-percent student or are you in a band or play a sport? Any leadership goals? Are you taking AP courses? This is what colleges look at and some of the things we cover with each student after we meet with them.”

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His company also offers a gamut of college-ready services, from free workshops to custom packages covering test prep, essay review, FAFSA, resumes and more.

And the earlier, the better. “Seventh and eighth grade is the best time to sign up. I have a freshman right now myself, so I live through this,” he adds. “I can still help the older kids, but it’s best to get started right before high school.”

Top three tips

What are the keys to acing that interview? Here’s what Parros says.

  1. Be prepared for the questions.
  2. Be ready to attend the interview on the spot.
  3. Always dress for success. “Just by stepping on the campus,” he says, “you are selling yourself.”

More information on Parros College Planning

  • Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
  • Costs: $100/mock interview, $1,295/full college-prep package, free/consultation
  • Address: 2245 S. State St., Suite 2400, Ann Arbor
  • Contact: 888-590-3668

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