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The 10 Most Common Mistakes Applicants Make in Video Responses

Here are some of the most common mistakes that admissions teams want applicants to know about. 


You’re over-prepared or over-coached

“When an applicant is struggling to remember the order of words she or he has practiced for a common question, it makes it harder to evaluate their enthusiasm and passion because they're far more concerned about remembering a script. We’re not looking at your acting skills, we’re looking at why you want to come to our school.”


You’re trying to say it all

“My biggest pet peeve is when an applicant just goes on and on listing out their accomplishments in a response, without going into any detail about any of them. I appreciate that you're involved in 12 different extracurriculars, but I would rather know why they were important to you and what you learned from them than the sheer volume of activities you participated in.”


You didn’t answer the question

“I wish ‘following directions’ was a competency. When we ask a targeted question and an applicant will just respond with three reasons they should get accepted to the program, without any evidence of what the question asked for, we can’t fairly evaluate that response against his or her peers.”


You’re too confident

“Attitude really comes through in these assessments. When I see a student who clearly doesn’t want to be doing this and who thinks that they’ll get in no matter what he says, it reflects poorly on their application.”


You’re not specific enough

“When an applicant just gives a really general story about a project being ‘very difficult’ and ‘requiring a lot of work’ and having to ‘do a lot of work to get it done’, it doesn’t give the admissions team much to work with. Be specific! It makes you stand out.”


You're clearly reading off your screen or a notepad

“Sometimes you can tell applicants have pre-written a response to a question they're prepared to answer. Generally, their voice becomes more monotone, and their eyes are clearly following some pre-written text. The whole reason we use Kira is to see the real student -- just to see you talk to us about something you care about -- and when we get those types of responses, it’s really disappointing.”


You're sitting in the dark

“A surprising number of applicants record their responses with very low-lighting and are backlit by their computer screens. It’s not a huge deal, because we listen for their content and that’s the most important aspect, but it always feels a little eery to review someone in a dark room.”


You didn’t plan ahead for distractions

“I’ve seen applicants clearly get a pop-up on their computer, read it, and lose track of what they were talking about. While you can always recover, it’s a distraction that could have been avoided.”


We couldn’t hear you over the background noise in your video

“Some applicants videos have background noise where you can hear their parents or roommates talking, or sometimes there are really loud construction noises that are extremely distracting. It’s totally not their fault, but sometimes we have to ask for a retake because we can’t hear what they’re saying.”


You worry too much!

“You’d be surprised how many applicants apologize excessively if they stutter or make a mistake. We know you’re human and we know you’re nervous; we aren’t taking off points if you stumble on a word!"


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