College Interviews: Practice Questions and Strategies

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Strategies for Answering College Interview Questions

Why Is a College Interview Important?

An interview is a chance for you to meet with someone representing the college. It's an opportunity to express interest in the college, start a relationship with people there, and show what you're all about. Schools develop useful questions to ask in a college interview. They’re a way for colleges to find out what type of student you'll be and what you can bring to the table.

Not every college uses interviews as part of the application process. But if the schools you're interested in attending do use interviews, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can make a big difference.

Common College Interview Questions

Although you’ll find that every interview will be unique, you can expect to hear certain questions at each one. Here are some of the most common.

1. Interviewer Questions About a Student's "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: This is one of the best questions for high school students because it shows that you're genuinely interested in their school. Interviewers also want to know what makes you stand out and what you can bring to the campus.

Student Answer 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 must research the college ahead of time to answer this type of question well.) Discuss extracurricular activities and achievements that show your interests and passions.

2. Interviewer Questions About a Student's Personality

Interviewers may ask questions like these:

  • What 3 adjectives best describe you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Why they ask: This is one of the more common questions asked in a college interview. It comes up because they want to see that you can think and speak about yourself.

Student Answer Strategy for Personality Questions

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

3. Interviewer Questions About Student Activities, Interests, and Goals

Interviewers may ask questions like these:

  • What activities do you find most rewarding?
  • What’s your favorite book?
  • What do you want to do after graduating from college?

Why they ask: Interviewers ask this question because they want to get to know you better and learn what's important to you.

Student Answer Strategy for Interests Questions

Make sure to answer questions about personal interests and hobbies during college interview sessions. It’s not always about academics. To form an answer, 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 answer. Don’t say things just to impress the interviewer.

4. Unusual College Interview Questions

Schools may develop broader questions to ask in college interview sessions. Some examples include:

  • If you had a thousand dollars to give away, what would you do with it?
  • What’s your opinion on a current event that’s of interest to you or that you feel passionate about?
  • If you could change 1 thing about your school, what would it be?

Why they ask: These questions, which can seem random, come up because interviewers want to see that you’re an informed, curious, and careful thinker.

Student Answer Strategy for Unusual Questions

These are unexpected questions that might be asked during a college interview. They often catch students off guard. Are you enthusiastic about certain issues? Can you explain your position? Try to think about what matters to you and what you care about, and how that applies to the question being asked.

More Interview Tips for College Admission

  • Have a conversation. Don’t appear as if you’ve rehearsed excessively. Don’t try to memorize a script.
  • Ask questions. Express your interest in the college. Create your own list of questions to ask a college interviewer while you have their attention. Most interviewers are alumni/ae. They can share what their experience was like.
  • Be yourself. Don't try to answer questions based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
  • Prepare. Practice interviews with friends or family. Take turns asking questions.

What Now?

For more tips on preparing for your interview, answering challenging questions, and coming up with new questions to ask your college interviewer, visit What to Do Before and After Your College Interview.


How should I prepare for a college interview?

The best way to prepare for a college interview is to do your research. Look into the schools you're interviewing for, learn as much as possible, and consider why you want to attend them. Practice responses. Create a list of questions to ask college interviewers. You can even do a mock interview with your counselor, a teacher, or a family member.

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How long are college interviews?

Expect these conversations to last between 30 minutes and an hour. However, the interview length depends on the school and the interviewer’s schedule.

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How should I introduce myself in a college interview?

A strong and confident introduction is always a plus. Be respectful, make eye contact, address the interviewer by their appropriate titles, shake hands when appropriate, and smile. You can also prepare a solid answer to the "tell me about yourself" college interview question. It's often the first to come up after personal introductions.

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Do colleges require an interview?

It depends on the college. College interviews are more common among selective institutions. Do your research about target schools to see if you need interview prep.

Remember that some schools might not request an interview for general admission. However, there could be interviews for certain scholarships and academic or in-demand programs.

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Do all college applicants get an interview?

It depends on the school. In many cases, colleges offer interviews to every applicant but make them optional. It’s worth it to consider an interview, when possible, to help yourself stand out. Some schools only offer limited interview opportunities. For more information, reach out to the admissions office of schools you’re interested in applying to.

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