College Interviews: The Basics

The college interview is a part of the college application process at many colleges — but not all of them. You may meet in person to talk with someone from the admission office, a current student or a graduate of the college. Or you may be able to take part in a video interview.

Why 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.
  • 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 the college.
  • Ask questions about the college.

What to Expect

You’ll talk one-on-one with the interviewer. If your parent comes with you, he or she probably won’t be in the room during the interview but may get a chance to talk to the interviewer afterward.

An interviewer may ask questions like “Why do you want to go college?” and “Why do you want to attend this college?” He or she may also ask about your high school experiences, your hobbies and your accomplishments. See more sample interview questions along with answer strategies.

The interviewer will also ask if you have any questions. Asking questions shows the interviewer that you’re interested in the college, and it allows you to get information you can’t find on a website or in a brochure. If you’re interested in a certain major, ask what the program is like. If you’re planning to live on campus, ask about campus life. Just try to avoid asking questions that you can easily find answers to on the college’s website.

How to Prepare

First, find out whether interviews are required, optional or not offered at all. If the college requires or offers interviews, look on the college’s website or contact its admission office to find out what you have to do to set one up. If you have to travel to the college to interview, you may want to schedule a campus tour for the same trip.

After you’ve scheduled an interview, you can do several things to prepare. One important step is to research the college so you feel ready to talk about why the college is a good fit for you. Another good idea is to do practice interviews with family members and friends. Get more information about how to prepare.

Just remember that while it’s smart to get ready in advance, you shouldn’t memorize answers to common interview questions or compose a speech — the interview should be a conversation.

More Interview Tips

You can’t pass or fail an interview, but you can make a good impression by doing the following:

  • Dress nicely, not in jeans and a T-shirt.
  • Arrive early.
  • Be polite.
  • Avoid using slang or other inappropriate language.
  • Be confident but not arrogant.
  • Answer questions honestly.
  • Send a thank-you note to your interviewer after the interview.