A Student’s Guide to College Interviews and Admissions

High school students preparing to apply for college are often overwhelmed by the entire process, so if you’re feeling stressed out about it, you have plenty of company. Going to college is a huge milestone in a person’s life, and applying to college requires managing several different steps.

Applying to most schools requires submitting an application, paying a fee, sending in transcripts, taking tests like the SAT or ACT and having those scores sent, writing personal essays, and asking teachers and other adults to submit letters of recommendation. One particularly stressful part of the process for many applicants is the personal interview. Not all schools require this, but many do ask that applicants meet with someone from the admissions staff or even an alum and go through a personal interview.

How to Prepare for College Interviews

All college interviews require some of the same basic preparation. The first step is to learn about the school, including its programs, its strengths, its mission, and its core values. You should also prepare a great outfit that looks age-appropriate, clean, neat, and professional. Then, practice interviewing with friends, family members, teachers, and other trusted adults.

Remember that you should stay polite and professional, but you should also be true to yourself and let your personality shine through. Also, although you’ll mostly be answering questions during the interview, make sure to bring your own questions to ask the interviewer; this is an opportunity for you to learn more about the school while they learn more about you. Once the interview is over, don’t forget to say thank you to your interviewer, either by mailing a thank-you note or sending them an email.

Different Types of College Interviews

College admissions interviews can be either evaluative or informational. Informational interviews are typically held so that an applicant can learn more about a particular college or program. The goal of an informational interview is to learn more about a school or major from someone who has experience with the institution. These interviews are typically less formal and more conversational in nature. Often, current students or alumni meet with applicants for these types of interviews.

Evaluative interviews, on the other hand, are used to assess an applicant’s qualifications and suitability for admission. These interviews are more formal and structured and are often conducted by an admissions committee, professor, or member of the admissions staff. The interviewer will ask a series of specific questions to determine if the applicant has the right qualifications needed for the program.

Common Interview Questions

Why Do You Want to Attend This College?

All applicants should be prepared to answer this question for each college where they have an interview. This is why researching the college and its programs is so important! This is your chance to show the interviewer that you have put thought into why you applied to this school. Talk about things you’ve learned about the college that make you think that the school is a great fit for you and your life goals. You should also think about how your previous academic career and extracurricular activities show that you are a great fit for the school.

What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

Interviewers ask this question for a few different reasons. First, they want to know how self-aware you are and how capable you are of self-reflection and growth. They also want to know what you’ll bring to the table as a student as well as how you’ll overcome obstacles. When talking about your weaknesses, be honest, but focus on something that you’re working to improve.

What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like Five Years After Graduation?

Interviewers are looking for students with goals, not just dreams. Goals are backed up with a plan. This is when you can lay out your long-term professional goals and talk about what specifically makes the college and program you are interviewing for a great fit to help you achieve your goals and lead a productive, successful adult life.