College Interviews: The Basics

Are college interviews important? In many cases, the answer is “yes.” The college interview is a part of the college application process at many colleges─but not at all of them. You may meet in person to talk with someone from the admissions office, a current student, or an alum of the college. Or you may be able to take part in a video interview.

The interview is rarely the deciding factor in whether the college will accept you, but it can give a representative from the college a chance to get to know you better. And the interview gives you a chance to:

  • Show your interest in the college.
  • Share information about yourself beyond what's listed on your transcript or in your application.
  • Bring up anything in your record that you'd like to explain, like a temporary drop in your grades.
  • Discuss your goals and the reasons you want to attend that college.
  • Ask questions about the college.

What to Do Before an Interview

Being prepared will help you stay calm and confident. It's also important to be honest about who you are and what you've done. You'll be more convincing and appealing if you stick to what's real.

  • Make an interview appointment with one of the colleges you want to attend.
  • Mark the date and time on your calendar.
  • Research the college by checking out its website, brochure, and course catalog.
  • Make notes about why you want to attend this college.
  • Make notes about your academic background and high school experiences.
  • Make notes about your life outside the classroom, including activities, community service, and hobbies.
  • Get familiar with common interview questions. Do practice interviews with a friend or family member. Take turns being the interviewee and the interviewer.
  • Prepare questions about the school to ask the interviewer.
  • Get directions to the interview.
  • Choose appropriate clothes to wear for the interview.
  • Gather documents you might need, such as test scores and a high school transcript.

What to Do at and After an Interview

  • Dress nicely and professionally to leave a good impression.
  • Arrive early. Be prepared with everything you need for the interview, including a way to take notes and a list of questions to ask.
  • Be polite. Be positive and attentive throughout the interview.
  • Avoid using slang or other inappropriate language during the interview. This can leave a negative impression.
  • Display confidence but not arrogance.
  • When you’re responding to questions, answer honestly. Ask for clarification if you’re unsure what the interviewer is asking.
  • Send a thank-you note to your interviewer after the interview.

FAQ

What questions should I prepare for in a college interview?

You should be prepared to answer college interview questions about your background, academic interests, extracurricular activities, and your reasons for wanting to attend the college. Additionally, expect college-specific questions about your interest in the school and what you can contribute to the campus community. You’ll want to research the college and its programs, reflect on your experiences and goals, and practice articulating your thoughts and experiences. You should also be prepared to ask the interviewer about their experience at the college. They’ll have valuable insight on what you can expect.

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What does a college interview consist of?

A college interview is an official dialogue between a college admissions representative and a potential student. The main objective of the interviewer is to gain additional insight about the student and evaluate their compatibility with the institution. Although interviews aren’t required by all colleges, they can be a chance for the student to showcase their character, hobbies, and aspirations.

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What questions are asked in a college interview?

Before a college interview, get ready to answer questions the interviewer may ask to get to know you better and evaluate you as a potential student. These questions may have to do with your strengths and weaknesses, background, academic interests, extracurricular activities, and reasons for wanting to attend college.

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Are college interviews a big deal?

Although interviews can be a valuable way for students to showcase their qualities, interests, and suitability for the college, not all colleges require them or weigh them heavily in their evaluation process. Some colleges view interviews as optional or supplementary, and others consider them essential. Although college interviews can be mandatory in a few cases, they’re usually regarded as one component of the larger admissions process (e.g., academic performance, extracurricular involvement, essays, and test scores).

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How do I schedule a college interview?

If you're looking to schedule a college interview, start by checking the college's website or admissions portal for instructions. Colleges may offer interviews as part of their application process and will automatically schedule them for eligible applicants. In other cases, you may need to express interest in an interview or request one through the college's admissions office. Keep an eye out for any deadlines or guidelines regarding interview scheduling to ensure you have the chance to meet with a representative.

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What should you include in a college interview thank-you email?

When writing a thank-you note after a college interview, you’ll want to convey your appreciation for the chance to interview and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the college. Personalize the thank-you note by mentioning something discussed during the interview. You’ll want to make sure the tone is professional, brief, and authentic.

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