5 Tips and Tricks for Acing Your College Interviews
When Students First Hear That They Have To Sit Down For A Student Interview, The Majority Are Extremely Nervous...
Few people are confident in interviews, however, there’s plenty of strategies you can use to become more comfortable and give effective responses to an interviewer’s questions.
Students who take the time to prepare for their college interviews give themselves an edge against the competition. Admissions interviews are a great way for students to demonstrate their interest and get their questions answered, while boosting their chances of admission. In fact, some colleges even require interviews before accepting a student!
WHAT YOU’LL FIND IN THIS ARTICLE
- What are College Interviews?
- How Important are College Interviews?
- Common Questions You’ll Face During College Interviews
- 5 Tips and Tricks for Standing Out in Your College Interviews
- Yes: You Can Ace Your College Interviews!
What Are College Interviews?
Colleges use admission interviews to learn more about students and to see if the student would be a good potential fit for their school. Students are asked questions to gauge their interest in a school as well as to determine what talents a student would bring to that school.
This means college interviews are another chance for students to tell their stories beyond their college application.
Interviews serve to help students feel a connection to their potential future college. During the interview, students are generally offered a chance to ask several questions that help demonstrate their interest in the school. Many colleges structure their student interviews to feel more like conversations than a job interview.
How Important Are College Interviews To Your Application?
The weight that an admission interview is given in a student’s chances of being accepted varies by school. According to the 2018 State of College Admissions report, only 14% of schools rate interviews as “moderately important,” though there are some schools that require students participate in an interview to be accepted.
However, college interviews are an easy way for students to demonstrate their interest in attending a school. This is why students should schedule an interview even if it’s optional or offered as a supplement to their application. If a student is serious about attending a school, showing demonstrated interest as often as possible is a good way to boost their chances of being accepted.
Common Questions You'll Face During College Interviews
Like all other types of interviews, there are a certain set of questions that will pop up in the majority of your college admission interviews. Interviewers ask these questions because they reliably get students to share the information they need about themselves, even if it’s information students may not want to share, like their weaknesses. Preparing for some of the most common college interview questions can help put your mind at ease heading into the interview.
WHY ARE YOU CONSIDERING THIS SCHOOL?
Colleges ask “why this school” in order to gauge your level of interest in their school. They want to know if you’re drawn to their college simply because of its name, or if you’re drawn to what the school has to offer.
When answering this question, be specific and have several talking points in mind. If you’re drawn to a school mainly due to its commitment to the liberal arts, for example, be sure you also mention other reasons you’re drawn to the school such as course selection and campus culture.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
While it may seem like a good idea to focus on your strengths and forget to mention any weaknesses when answering this question, that’s not the best way to answer this question. Students should be realistic about their own weaknesses and use them to contrast their strengths. For instance, those that struggle with leadership positions can mention their weakness while highlighting how well they work as a team member. The goal here is to show some self-reflection, and to be honest about where you still have room to grow.
WHAT CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE TO OUR COLLEGE?
College interviewers aren’t looking for you to necessarily “solve” a problem on campus with this question. Instead, the interviewer is looking to gauge what you’ll bring to their college’s community and classrooms. Answering the following questions can help you brainstorm how you can contribute to each college you interview for:
- What are my strengths in the classroom?
- How do I participate in class?
- What social issues am I passionate about?
- Does this college have an organization or club for these interests?
- How do I interact with my fellow students? Am I more likely to lead a study group or a stress-busting dance session?
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM?
While it may be tempting to solely focus on your volunteer and community efforts when answering this question, don’t be afraid to showcase that you’re human to your college interviewer. A strong answer to this question would sound something like this:
- “In between hiking with my family and volunteering at the local animal shelter, I also enjoy hanging out with my friends and playing basketball. I’ve learned a lot about managing relationships out on the court.”
Give your interviewer several “threads” they can pull on if they’d like to know more about you. An interviewer may respond to the above by asking more about your duties at the animal shelter, or for an example of what kind of problems you’ve solved on the basketball court with your friends.
5 Tips And Tricks For Standing Out In Your College Interviews
BRING YOUR OWN QUESTIONS
Bringing your own questions to your college admission interview is a great way to demonstrate interest, as we mentioned earlier. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to get your questions answered by someone who is often an alumni of the school you’re interviewing with. Their first-hand experience at a school will inform their response to your questions, meaning interviewers can often provide real insight into a school.
This means you’ll want to avoid asking questions that are easily answered with a web search. Go beyond the surface level of what a school has to offer and ask about things such as campus culture, the best place on campus to hole yourself up and study, and what the interviewer wishes more incoming freshmen knew about their school.
One of the best ways to prepare for your college admission interview is to practice beforehand. Grab a trusted friend, family member, or even your counselor and ask them to play the role of college interviewer. Go through a list of several questions and answers, asking your helper to pay attention not just to what your answers say, but how you deliver them.
The more you practice interviewing, the better you’ll become at delivering your responses effectively.
The main reason you’ll want to practice this is to develop comfort in an interview-style setting. When you’re comfortable being in an interview, you’ll naturally display more confidence in your responses and your body language.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Once you’ve gotten confirmation for your interview, it’s time for you to do your homework and prepare for the interview by getting your facts straight. Make sure you’re aware of the following thing well before you head into the interview:
- Where and when your interview is taking place
- Your interviewer's name and basic credentials
- Is your interviewer an alumni of the college?
- Specific details about the college you’re applying to
It’s fine if most of your knowledge is centered around your intended area of study, however, try to have a good grasp on the college’s history and mission before the interview. This shows a genuine interest in their values, something interviewers like to see.
DON’T FOLLOW A SCRIPT
While examples and scripts are a great way to familiarize yourself with the student interview process, you should avoid following a script word for word during your actual interview. If you’ve ever seen someone awkwardly reading from a teleprompter on TV, you’ll know how uncomfortably forced a script can sound.
During your admission interview, it’s essential that you sound self-assured and natural. As we mentioned earlier, this is where practice comes in. The more you expose yourself to being interviewed and answering questions, the more natural your responses will become.
FOLLOW-UP WITH YOUR INTERVIEWER
It never hurts to send a polite follow-up email in the world of college admissions, and your admission interview is no different. After the interview, send a short email thanking the interviewer for their time. Mention a few specific points that came up during the interview and how they helped you gain a clearer understanding of the school.
Sending a follow-up email keeps your name in the interviewer’s mind, and it’s also another small way you can display your interest in a school. Plus, it’s simply a good habit to get into as you more into the more professional world of college and your career!
Yes: You Can Ace Your College Interviews!
Your college student interview is just another step on your journey toward being admitted to your dream college. You can prepare for your interview by doing your research about the school and practicing being in an interview situation. A well-prepared student can offer thoughtful and effective responses that display a real interest in attending a school.
Our WeAdmit counselors specialize in preparing students for their college admissions journey. We’re well-versed in teaching students how to communicate their goals and values effectively through everything from college interviews to applications and essays, so if you’re feeling a bit nervous about your upcoming college interviews, get in touch. We’d love to help you hone in on your strengths and show you how to highlight them for you dream school!
Grab A Friend And Sit Down For A Mock Interview. Let’s Shake Your Nerves Away And Get Into College!
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