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College Interview Guide


Tips On How To Prepare For College Interviews

College interviews may not necessarily be required by a school, but they are still important and recommended if offered. In addition to your application, submitted scores, written recommendations, and essays, the college interview is an additional way for schools to get a better sense of who you are. It's an opportunity for them to interact with you and make sure that you are not only interested, but also a good fit. It's also gives you an opportunity to ask questions about the school, share information about yourself beyond what you've submitted, and explain anything in your application that may need qualifying. Although the interview can be stressful, with good preparation and a solid understanding of the process, you can ace it and leave a positive, lasting impression.

  • Be prepared to answer questions about your high school experience, your personal traits, your interests, what you’re looking for in a college and how it relates to your hopes and aspirations. Every question is an opportunity to reveal something desirable about yourself.

  • Your answers should include reasons, explanations, examples, and/or descriptions.

  • Practice your responses by having somebody ask you these questions as if you were actually in the interview.

  • Bring notes to help you remember key points and details. Know what you’re going to say, but don’t memorize it word for word. You want your answers to sound natural, like a conversation, as opposed to a rehearsed script.

  • Bring a resume that highlights your extracurricular accomplishments.

  • Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices. You only have a brief window of opportunity to impress.

  • Don’t be surprised if you are asked at least one unexpected question or a question you can't answer.

  • Above all, be honest and sincere.

  • Ask questions at the end of the interview to show your interest, but avoid general questions that can easily be answered on the college website.

  • Be yourself, but showcase your best self.

  • Thank the interviewer for taking time to meet with you.


Tips On How To Answer Common Interview Questions

Tell Me About Yourself

The interview will most likely begin with this question. Make sure you have put thought into your unique personality and passions that make you special and memorable. Distinguish yourself from other applicants and avoid clichés or descriptions that are likely common answers. If you are hardworking, explain what has driven you to become diligent and why you feel it is important. There is no wrong answer, but there can be a missed opportunity if you’re not prepared.

Why Are You Interested In This College?

Colleges want to see that you’ve done your research and that you genuinely feel the school is the right place for you. Focus on specific attributes, such as your interest in an academic program, undergraduate research opportunities, the cultural values and history of the school, or extracurricular activities. Avoid general answers, such as the size, location, and prestige of the college. 

Why Do You Want to Major In ?

If you are undecided about your major, talk about the subjects that interest you the most and how you’re excited to explore classes that align with your passions. There is nothing wrong with being honest about your uncertainty. If you have identified a potential major, be prepared to discuss the strength of your interest and why. Colleges want to see that you are academically curious and motivated.

What Are Your Academic Strengths?

This is an opportunity for you to showcase your talents. Focus on your unique strengths and provide examples of situations in which you have used them to excel in school. For example, if you’re good at English, give examples of how you used your excellent writing skills to work on the school newspaper. Include how your strengths will benefit you in college.

What Are Your Academic Weaknesses? How Have You Addressed Them?

Colleges are not so much concerned with what your weaknesses are as they are with what you have to say about them. They want to see what kind of problem-solver you are and if you have the persistence and work ethic to succeed despite your challenges. Tell a specific story about how you managed to do well in a subject that was especially difficult for you. For example, you can say, "I have a hard time learning new languages, so I set aside more time to study them." The trick to this question is to frame your weaknesses in a positive way.

How Do You Plan To Contribute To This School?

Colleges want to admit students who will add to the campus experience and make positive contributions to the community. Do some research about the campus community and consider what you will do outside the classroom. Describe unique ways in which your talents will enhance the college community to make it a better place. Do you want to have a leadership position in an extracurricular activity? Are there specific community service projects you want to do? Give examples of the activities you’ve been involved in at high school that show your contribution to your school’s community.

What Do You See Yourself Doing 10 Years From Now?

Colleges are not expecting you to know exactly what you’ll be doing in 10 years. They want to know if you have given thought about your future and how college fits into your long term plans. They want students with direction. Don’t just say you want to have a fulfilling career and make a positive impact on the world. Rather, describe activities you would like to do, educational goals you would like to pursue, career interests you would like to explore.

Who Do You Most Admire?

This question really isn't so much about who you admire but why you admire someone. Colleges want to get a sense of your values by learning what character traits you most value in other people. Describe this person’s admirable attributes and how they inspire you.

What Is Your Favorite Book?

Colleges learn more about who you are from the books you read. You’ll need to know much more than just the title and author. Think about what specifically makes the book your most favorite, but don’t give a book report. Talk about why the book has special meaning for you. Did it inspire you? Did a particular character or setting resonate with you? Did you learn something from the book that influenced your opinions or behavior?

Why Do You Want To Go To College?

Schools are trying to understand why you are motivated to pursue higher education and what you are hoping to accomplish by attending. Focus on the many reasons that college is much more than just getting a degree and finding a good paying job. You can describe how college can be life-changing and enable you to learn new skills, broaden your understanding and knowledge of the world around you, meet people with different backgrounds and experiences, discover more about your passions, or aid in your personal development.

What Do You Like To Do For Fun?

Your answer should reveal your passions outside of the classroom. This question is an opportunity to describe something about yourself that cannot be learned from your application. There are many good answers, but avoid general responses, such as spending time with friends and family. Be prepared to explain why you enjoy these activities.

What Is An Obstacle You Have Faced And How Did You Get Through It?

Colleges want to know how you tackle problems and adversity. Your answer should show that you are persistent and willing to work hard in order to overcome obstacles. Think of a time when you faced a problem that challenged you and the steps you took to solve it. This can be something related to your home life, school, or an extracurricular activity. Explain how the problem challenged you, but focus on what you did to overcome it and what you have learned.

What Makes You Unique?

We are all unique, but it can be hard to put into words exactly what separates us from everyone else. Try to go beyond your accomplishments and think about what distinguishes you from the other applicants. Present examples and stories that demonstrate these qualities. Be memorable, but keep your answer focused and relevant.

Additional Resources:

Questions to Ask College/University Representatives

More Admission Interview Questions