What to Expect From College Admission Interviews

Even when they're not required, college admission interviews are often a good way to bolster an application. Here's how to tackle your admission interview.

First of all, college interviews usually aren’t necessary, so don’t panic. Only a handful of highly selective schools require them, and many schools do not have them at all. Many students also pass up on the option of going to “Interview Day” events because they are unsure of what goes on during the interview process and what effect it will have on their application. But even when they’re not required, for many students, college interviews are often a way to bolster an application and are actually a lot less scary than they may seem.

What are admission interviews like?

For starters, the college interview is a face-to-face discussion or Skype call between an applicant (or future applicant) and an admission representative or alumni. The whole interview usually lasts half an hour and revolves around two things: the college and the student—so no surprises here. The unique thing about interviews is that they go beyond the written application where students can only respond to those particular questions asked, which may not even provide the ability to go as in-depth as the student wishes. Interviews give the admission team a chance to get to know you better and in more detail. For example, a school’s application may not have a place to explain an unusual drop in grades, but this can be brought up in the interview. In fact, the ability to explain something important that happened to you—a sickness, death in the family, parent’s loss of a job, and how you bounced back from some other adversity—can actually help give really helpful insight into who you are as an applicant (and maybe even boost your admission chances). Colleges love to see character, which only comes through having a variety of experiences. Interviews also show you’re really excited about attending the school, and admission counselors keep track and consider that in making decisions sometimes.

The topic of your future

Aside from getting to know you better as an individual, your potential future at the college is the other major topic of conversation. While the campus and programs at a certain college may be great, if the school isn’t the right “fit” for you (and vice versa), then enrolling there may not end well. This might seem like a downside to a college interview, when you and the representative realize that a particular school is not your best option. But it’s actually a good thing, since you won’t make the mistake of going there for a semester (or longer)! Also, do not be afraid to continue digging deeper. As much as the admission team wants to get to know you, they want you to have all the information you want about the college. There is usually a time for you to ask your questions, and this is the perfect opportunity to ask about things that go beyond statistics and really get to know about what the next four years of your life could hold. Even if you know someone who attends that school who has told you all about the school, its students, academics, campus life, and more, you should still ask questions. If you know a lot about the college, talk about what you know and ask for really specific details. After all, you want to show how interested you are in the school.

Related: College Admission Interviews: Everything You Need to Know

My first college interview

It was a warm Sunday morning that I was scheduled to interview with the College of Wooster. They had set up an interview day at a location that was much closer to my house than the college itself. After I signed up, I had repeatedly gone over practice questions, picked out an outfit (fairly conservative, but with a little personality), and felt prepared for a Q&A session. When I walked in (a few minutes early, and a little bit nervous), I was greeted by the admission representative and his wife, who was training to be a representative also. Instead of sitting at a desk, we all sat around a table in comfortable chairs. This set the tone for a relaxed conversation about what the college had to offer.

Don't expect a ton of questions

Even though I had prepared for an onslaught of questions, I received few. They were all broad and revolved around what I wanted to get out of my college experience. Of course, they got to know me as an individual and as a student—my hobbies, interests, favorite/least favorite classes—but the focus was more about what I wanted to do in college. I want to major in biology, so we discussed their program. I want to take piano lessons, so we went over the options for that. I told them I wanted a small school where the students were focused on their studies but also had outside interests...this is where things got interesting. The admission representatives shared with me their experience of going to the college, along with the things they observed every day. I was able to ask all of the questions I had and was able to clear up any misnomers or concerns I had. The questions were easy to answer and easy to ask because it was such a low-stress atmosphere.

Related: Admission Interview Strategies Students Should Know

While some college interviews are very casual and discussion based, students should prepare for more traditional formal interviews and questions: Who are you as a person? Are you a leader? What will you contribute to our school? What is your biggest weakness? You may never be asked these questions, but, at the very least, answering them will help you understand who you are as an individual. Oh, and remember, sit up straight, smile, dress nicely, and no gum!

For more advice on getting through every part of the application process, check out the articles in our College Admission section. 

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Leman Simpson

Hello, everyone. My name is Leman. I'm from a small town in west-central Ohio. Although I'm definitely not sure what I want to do in college, I definitely want to pursue my passion for science! Throughout the year I will be researching, visiting, and applying to small colleges in Ohio and the neighboring states.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2020

CollegeXpress has been an instrumental resource for my scholarship search and has given me the opportunity to try my best so I can graduate from college debt-free.



High School Class of 2019

My college search began at CollegeXpress. Due to this helpful tool, I was able to gather a lot of information to guide my college planning decisions. Through CollegeXpress, I was also able to apply to several scholarships to help pay for my tuition. I would definitely recommend this website to anyone who wants to explore colleges and get more information from admission experts, counselors, and real students.

Daniel Ogunlokun

Daniel Ogunlokun

High School Class of 2022

When I started looking at colleges in the beginning of my senior year, I was conflicted about which ones I wanted to attend based on safety, tuition costs, location, academic rigor, and prestige. Searching the internet and getting more questions than answers, I came across CollegeXpress, which made all the steps I had taken look like a minor issue. Everything was summarized and detailed, and I couldn't be more thankful and appreciative.

Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Kory Gilbertson

Kory Gilbertson

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me explore my views on college in that "why do I wanna go to a certain school" way. It’s helped me explore the best fits in all of these outstanding choices. All these college admission counselors can access my accolades showing them how I could help their college. This source of information helps me show these admission directors who I am and what I'm interested in. Thanks to this platform, my experience for education will be better than most, and I'm so grateful for all that it has provided for me.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Robert Morris University

Moon Township, PA