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College Interviews: The Basics


Numerous colleges include a college interview as an integral part of the application process. 

Why Interview In the First Place?

While the interview itself is not generally the deciding factor on whether you will be accepted or not, it offers the college representative a chance to get to know you. This is a two-way street. Use the interview for your benefit with the following:

  • Gives you an opportunity to show your interest in this facility.
  • Another opportunity to share what is listed in your transcripts.
  • Provides an opportunity to ask questions and clarify any concerns.
  • Gives you a chance to explain any part of your record, for example, a drop in your grades at one point, etc.

What to Expect During the Interview

The interview process is typically a one-on-one endeavor. You will speak with the interviewer on your own. If your parent attends, they typically are not in the room while the interview is taking place; however, they may get an opportunity to speak afterward to the interviewer.

Generally, the interviewer will want to know why you want to attend this particular college and why are you exploring post-secondary education. They often inquire about experiences in high school, accomplishments and hobbies. This is a great time to mention any volunteer hours and sports you have been involved with.

Next, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. This is how the interviewer can determine how interested you are in their institution. It enables you to obtain specific information that you were not able to find online or in a brochure. If you are inquiring about a particular major, ask them what the course load and program entails. Ask questions about campus life if you plan to live on campus. Be sure to avoid asking simple questions that are already posted on the school’s website.

Preparing For Your College Interview

The initial step is to determine if interviews are optional, are required, or not included at all. If the college does offer interviews, contact the admission office to establish how you go about setting one up. For example, if travel is required for your interview, this is the perfect time to set up a campus tour for the same time.

Once your interview has been scheduled, there are a variety of things you can do to prepare for your appointment. Research the college ahead of time to determine why this location will be a positive fit. This will give you some ammunition and talking points to explore.

Consider conducting practice interviews with your friends and family members. This is a great way to practice your interview skills and gain confidence in answering questions on the fly. If you have a well-rounded approach, you will be less inclined to clam up or be anxious when the real interview occurs.

Think Of the Interview as a Conversation

The intent of the interview should ideally resemble a relaxed conversation. Avoid sounding robotic or spending time trying to memorize answers. Be open to sharing and aim for some good night’s sleep the week prior. Never go to the interview hungry or exhausted. Be sure to balance your work, school, entertainment, and travel commitments to ensure you have the best chance for success.

Extra Tips for Interview Success

Take the following into consideration to help you make a positive impression. You won’t pass or fail the process but there are some definite things to be aware of:

  • Dress professionally. Make a positive first impression by avoiding a T-shirt and jeans.
  • Be polite.
  • Be punctual and arrive early if possible.
  • Appear confidant but do not come across as arrogant.
  • Do not rely on inappropriate language or slang.
  • Be honest and open during your discussion and while answering questions.
  • Consider sending a thank you note to your interviewer afterward to acknowledge the time they took to see you.