Originally Posted: Jan 7, 2021
Last Updated: Jan 7, 2021
College Counselor and Tutor
College interviews can be an intimidating part of the college application process, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Often, the point of college interviews isn’t for the school to learn more about you but for you to learn more about the school. It’s also a great way to demonstrate your interest.
An interview with a faculty member or admission officer will play a more significant role than an interview with an alumnus or current student. They will be making the decisions, and if it’s a highly competitive program, then the interview might be one of the deciding factors. Here are three tips to help you prepare for your college interview.
- Practice common interview questions. College admission interviewers aren’t trying to trick you. For the most part, they’ll ask you open-ended questions that allow you to talk about your interests and extracurricular activities. Before the interview, research some of the most common interview questions and prepare for them with a friend or family member.
- Extend your answers. When answering an interview question, don’t just give a short answer. For example, if they ask what your favorite subject in high school was, just saying “AP Literature” isn’t enough. A better answer would be: “AP Literature, because I love exploring different forms of writing. After reading King Learand Hamlet in the class, I realized my love for Shakespeare and joined a local theater group’s production of Romeo and Juliet.”
- Prepare questions for the interviewer. For many people, the most dreaded part of any interview is: “What questions do you have for me?” Research beforehand so you can ask the interviewer a few questions as well. Think about things you couldn’t find easily on the college’s website. You shouldn’t be overly personal, but you can ask questions like, “What was your favorite class you took outside of your major?” or “What’s your advice for incoming freshmen?”
Preparation is key for a successful college admission interview. Take advantage of this opportunity to showcase your talents and demonstrate your interest in the school. To fully prepare for your interview, this free crash course from Moon Prep can help you strengthen your case and prove why you’re the right student to be admitted.
Evan E. Lipp
Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid
Being interviewed can be difficult at first, but it’s a skill that gets easier the more you practice. One of the best things someone being interviewed can be is comfortable. Practice what you're going to say and try to anticipate some of the questions they might ask. You should also do a little bit of research into the school beforehand, not necessarily into dates and statistics but into the programs the school offers and how that might mesh with the course of study you intend to pursue.
The most important thing you can to do to prepare for an interview is to decide how you're going to tell your story. Your interviewer is curious about you: Who are you? What have you done? What do you hope to do? It’s up to you to tell them. You should be able to let the interviewer know about work you've done and the things that are important to you, as well as how you think the college they're representing can help you achieve the goals you've set for yourself.
Lastly, think about the questions you want to ask. A good interview is a dialogue, an exchange of information; your interviewer will be happy to answer any questions you might have about the school, so it’s a great opportunity to gather information.
The interview is your best chance to put a face to your application; it transforms you from a stack of papers into a living, breathing person for them to consider. Let them know who you really are.
The key to a good college interview is to sell yourself without seeming too pushy. Keep the balance between friendly and businesslike, and remember, you want your interviewer to like you!
Interviews give you an opportunity to build on your paper application by highlighting your strengths. Be prepared to discuss the following:
- A time when you overcame adversity
- Your proudest moment
- People you admire
- New experiences you would like to have
- Why you are passionate about certain subjects and activities
- What you value
- How others see you and how you assist them
Your answers to these questions will help the admission committee see you as a person rather than a compilation of numbers and test scores.
Before the interview, be sure to prepare! Make a list of things you might want to talk about, including any questions you have about the college or university. A question such as “How can I contribute to your college?” can be a powerful statement for admission counselors to use in advocating on your behalf. It’s also a good idea to offer some positive comments about the school. Finally, don’t forget to follow up on your interview with a thank-you note.
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