College Tips - The Interview


Applying for college is an exciting time. But it also comes with its fair share of stress. With applications, personal statements, tours, and interviews, the excitement is easily overshadowed by deadlines and anxiety. This should not be the case! Finding the right college for you should be exhilarating and fun, an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your personal goals as you embark on the next step of your journey.

My goal, when working with individuals going through the college application process, is to ease the stress and uncertainty that goes along with each phase. The college interview is an application item that is easily overlooked or overly nerve-racking. I am happy to share some helpful tips I've learned throughout my experience on both sides of the admission process. My hope is that this helps paint a clearer picture of how to approach the college interview and make it an enjoyable experience.

Always opt to interview

Many times, colleges offer an optional interview rather than required. You always want to interview. This not only shows your true interest in the school, but allows the admission counselor to put a face to the name. This makes you much more memorable when it comes to reviewing hundreds of applications. Now, if the school to which you are applying does not even have interviews listed as optional, you do not need to worry about scheduling one. In this scenario, they have determined the interview is not an important part of their personal application files and approach, and have therefore taken the decision out of your hands. You can still reach out to your admission representative with any questions you might have.

Be yourself

Yes, there is a proper way to hold yourself in an interview setting. You want to come across as professional and responsible, but be wary not to put on an air that hides your true personality. College admission reps want to see individuality and determine who would be the best fit for their community. If you have a bubbly personality, let that shine through! You could be just what they're looking for to add to their college campus.

Answer honestly

Never assume you know what the interviewer wants to hear. You do not want to be the tenth person in a row to tell them that your greatest weakness is that you're OCD about organization. Be unique and honest, while phrasing things in a positive manner. If you enjoy sleeping in your spare time, share that! But do so in a way that is engaging. There is a big difference between "I wish I could sleep all day," and "I love sleep! It gives me energy to participate in all my other activities and is a great release from all my other commitments." Answer honestly, while highlighting priorities and unique aspects about yourself.

Put on the interviewer hat

You are interviewing the schools as much as they are interviewing you. Show your interest by asking questions you might have about the school and the interviewer. A great question to ask might be, "What do you love about working here and what aspect would you change about this school?" This keeps the interviewer on his or her toes and also shows that you truly want to learn as much as you can about the academic community.

Do your research

Make sure that you are familiar with each school. This allows you to present yourself as knowledgeable and eager about all they have to offer. Pick a club or activity in which you are interested to discuss with the interviewer. Perhaps you're eager to study abroad and are impressed with the school's extensive study abroad program. Maybe you love the internship opportunities they have to offer. Pick a handful of things each individual school has and be ready to discuss them as they relate to you.

Common interview questions 

No interview will be the same so it is tricky to know exactly what to expect. However, here are a few interview questions to review and consider in order to get that interview brain working.

Tell me about yourself. (Again, be honest and open. You could be just the student they've been waiting for!)

* Why this school?

* Why this major? (If undecided, be ready to discuss why you're undecided and what you are hoping to gain from college in order to make your decision in a future major.)

* What is your greatest strength and what is your greatest weakness? (Careful with this one. Be sure to pick a weakness that is actually a weakness. Acknowledge it about yourself and discuss how you are working toward improving.)

* What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

* How would you add to this community? What aspects about you would be a good fit?

* Who is someone you look up to and why?

* Why do you want to attend college?

* Talk about a time you were faced with an obstacle. How did you overcome it?

* What makes you unique?

* Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

The list goes on!

Final Thoughts

It helps to practice interviewing with various people. Grab a parent, friend, grandparent, sibling, anyone around and practice getting comfortable talking and answering questions. Remember, an interview is just a conversation. You should enjoy sharing these aspects about yourself and learning as much as you can about each individual school as you converse with the interviewer. Be yourself and good luck!

As always, we are here to help! If you have any questions or want to do some practice interviews with feedback readily available, do not hesitate to reach out.