Two Types of College Interviews
College interviews can be informational or evaluative in nature. Informational interviews provide the applicant an opportunity to learn more about the college or university. Evaluative interviews allow the school to further assess the applicant as a potential member of the entering freshman class. Evaluative interviews are not very common, and are mostly found at very competitive schools.
You should be able to find all information about a college's interview process on their website. Some colleges only require interviews for certain programs, and in cases where interviews are optional, you'll need to request one. Colleges usually have a specific timeframe for when interviews occur. It could be before of after the student has submitted an application. Interviews can be conducted by a member of the admissions staff, an alumnus/alumna, or even a current student. Many colleges now offer the option to conduct interviews virtually or in person, though some still prefer students to come to campus for the interview.
Some Tips for the College Interview
We've compiled a list of college interview tips below. Review this list to help you begin preparing for college interviews and make the most of the experience.
- Look nice. Dress professionally to represent yourself well. You don't need to buy a new outfit for the occasion, but make sure you create a positive impression with your appearance.
- Be prepared. Think about what you want the interviewer to learn about you and anything you want to explain from your academic career or time in high school.
- Practice. Your college interview may be the first interview you've experienced, so practice with a family member beforehand by answering open-ended questions about yourself.
- Be yourself. In your interview answers, be honest about your strengths and interests. And be self-confident about what you have accomplished so far in life.
- Stay calm. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but you should remember that the interview is only one component of the entire admissions process and not be too nervous.
- Talk about the college. In your opinion, what makes this particular college a better fit for you than other colleges? Don't forget, fit is an important consideration in the college search.
- Share your interests. If there are specific clubs, organizations, sports or opportunities at the college that interest you, discuss your interest and ask about how you might get involved.
- Have a conversation. A successful interview has the give-and-take of a natural discussion. Avoid one-word responses, but don't monopolize the time either.
- Communicate your goals. Tell the interviewer about your academic interests and what you hope to gain from pursuing your education. Discuss your short-term and long-term ambitions.
- Highlight your individuality. Don't shy away from talking about what you can contribute to the college. Many other applicants will have similar grades and test scores. What makes you an attractive addition to the classrooms, the residence halls, and the overall campus community? Everyone has something to contribute.
- Ask questions. Bring up any questions you have about attending the college. If you are accepted, you will have to decide between this college and any others that also accept you. And make sure the answers to your questions can't be found in the college viewbook or website.
- Be grateful. Always thank the interviewer. And remember to send a follow-up thank you note.
Sample College Interview Questions
Ask yourself these questions before your interview to prepare.
- What are programs or features that you like about this particular college?
- What are some things about you that aren't obvious in your college applications?
- What is a mistake you've made and how have you learned from it?
- What are you hoping to learn and do in life?
- What is a person/idea/event/book that has had an impact on your life?
- What questions do you have about this school?
- What is the accomplishment you're most proud of?
- What are three things you're hoping to learn or do in college?
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?