College Planning

How to Prepare for Your College Interview

There are many different aspects of the college application process. This post is going to cover one important part of applying to higher education schools, the college interview.


What is a college interview?


A college interview is an opportunity for you to meet with a representative of the school you are applying to. These individuals are often someone from the admissions office, a current student or an alumnus of the school. 


Why is a college interview important?


While interviews are not required to attend every school, you can use them to your advantage. Some of the ways that these interviews can help with your application include:

  • Showing your personality beyond your transcript, essay, and the rest of your application
  • Find out more about the college from someone on a personal level, while sharing your goals and potential reasons why you want to attend the school
  • Address any questions that a school might have, such as a drop in grades in a semester
  • Ask questions you have about the school that you cannot get from the school website or other promotional materials


How to Prepare for the Interview

The first step for preparing for the interview is to find out if the school requires an interview, if it is optional, or not offered. If you are required or want to have an interview with the school, look at the school’s website or contact their college admissions office to learn the next steps. If you are traveling to the campus, consider scheduling a campus tour while there. 


Once the interview is scheduled, start preparing for the interview by researching the college. When researching the school, develop talking points on why the school could be a good fit and what excites you the most about potentially attending. 


Things to do before your interview

  • Once the interview is scheduled, mark the day and time into your calendar.
  • Visit the college’s website and other promotional materials such as mail or social media.
  • Write down reasons why you would be excited to attend this school.
  • Create a list of talking points about your academic background and other high school experiences.
  • Create a list of talking points about your life outside of school including hobbies and volunteer work and any specific family responsibilities that supply life skills.
  • Using some of the common practice interview questions listed below, conduct some practice interviews with a friend or family member. It is a good idea to take turns practicing as the interviewer as well as the interviewee.


Other Preinterview Tips

  • Dress nicely to the interview and avoid wearing casual clothing such as jeans or shirts.
  • Arrive early.
  • Be polite and confident but not arrogant.


Post Interview Tips

  • Answer questions honestly.
  • Send a thank-you note to the interviewer after the interview.


Practice Questions and Answers for Your College Interview

Here are some types of questions you may encounter and tips for answering them.

Questions about your fit with a college


Interviewers may ask questions like these:

  • Why do you want to attend our college?
  • What can you contribute to our college campus?
    • Why they ask: They want to know that you're really interested in their college. They also want to know what you can bring to the campus.


Your strategy for college-fit questions


Talk about what you've learned about the college and why you feel it's the right place for you. (Remember that you have to research a college ahead of time to answer this type of question well.) Discuss your extracurricular activities and achievements that show your character.


Questions about your personality


Interviewers may ask questions like these:

  • What three adjectives best describe you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why they ask: They want to see that you can think and speak about yourself.


Your strategy for personality questions


Give examples of how your chosen adjectives describe you. Talk about how you've used your strengths to accomplish something. Talk about how you overcome your weaknesses. For example, you can say, "I have a hard time learning new languages, so I set aside more time to study them."


Questions about activities, interests, and goals


Interviewers may ask questions like these:

  • What activities do you find most rewarding?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • What do you want to do after graduating from college?
    • Why they ask: They want to get to know you better and learn about what's important to you.


Your strategy for questions about interests


Think about the why: Why are those activities the most rewarding? Why is a book your favorite? If you have a major in mind, talk about why you're interested in that subject. Discuss how you think college can help you meet your goals. Be sincere and honest in your answerdon't say things just to impress the interviewer.


Wide-ranging (broader) questions


Interviewers may ask some broader questions. For example:

  • If you had a thousand dollars to give away, what would you do with it?
  • What's your opinion on the immigration debate [or another topic in the news]?
  • If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?
    • Why they ask: They want to see that you are informed and curious and a careful thinker.


Your strategy for broader questions


Stay up-to-date on news and current events. Do you have strong opinions on certain issues? Can you explain your position? Try to spell out your system of values to yourself and think about how you apply it.


More college interview tips


  • Have a conversation. Don't try to memorize a script.
  • Ask questions. Do express your interest in the college.
  • Be yourself. Don't try to answer questions based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
  • Prepare. Do practice interviews with friends or family. Take turns asking questions.

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