In the college admissions process, the college admissions interview stands out as a valuable opportunity for a student to showcase their personality, aspirations, and potential beyond the boundaries of their college application. This is a chance to transform an application from words on paper to a living, breathing representation of who a student is, what type of student they’ll be, and what they can bring to campus.
NOTE: Most colleges don’t offer college admissions interviews as part of the application process, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity if it is there. Some universities, like Brown and the University of Chicago, are substituting video submissions in lieu of interviews. Check the admission website of each of the colleges you’re applying to for the latest information.
If your prospective colleges do offer interviews, here are some tips and strategies for preparing for and excelling in the college admissions interview.
1. Research the College
Before the interview, a student needs to understand the college they’re applying to. To do this, a student should research its history, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and any recent developments. Knowing about the college’s culture and values will enable any interviewee to tailor their responses to align with what the college is looking for in prospective students. Interviewees should always be able to answer the question, “Why are you interested in attending our college?”
2. Know Yourself
Students should reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals. Then they should use this self-awareness to consider how their experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, have shaped them as an individual. College representatives will want to know why they’re passionate about the field of study they’ve chosen. Being self-aware and confident is key to effectively communicating one’s fit for the college.
3. Practice Mock Interviews
Mock interviews can provide constructive feedback. Through practice, students can refine their responses and improve their overall interview skills. International College Counselors offers practice sessions that empower students to know how to answer common interview questions, as well as questions related to their chosen field of study and/or their intended contributions to the college community. With thorough preparation and self-confidence, a student can excel in their admissions interview and leave a lasting, positive impression on the admissions committee.
4. Dress Appropriately
Choose outfits wisely. Dressing appropriately and professionally is a sign of respect for the interview and demonstrates a student’s commitment to the process. Business-casual attire is a safe choice.
5. Be Punctual
Arriving early for an interview, whether it’s in-person or conducted virtually, shows commitment and respect. Punctuality–and better yet, showing up 10 minutes early—also gives a person time to calm their nerves and gather their thoughts before the interview begins.
6. Prepare Well-Conceived Questions
Interviews are not just about answering questions, but also about asking them. Students will do well to craft insightful and thoughtful questions that demonstrate their genuine interest in the college. It’s important to avoid asking questions that can be easily answered through the college’s website.
7. Stay Calm and Confident
Nerves are natural, but there are ways to maximize chances of staying calm and composed. Taking deep breaths, maintaining good posture, and making eye contact are key. Confidence portrays a student as a capable and poised individual who can handle the rigors of college life.
8. Tell Your Story
Your interview is a great chance for students to showcase who they are. Sharing personal anecdotes and stories that reveal character and aspirations can spotlight authenticity. The interview isn’t just a chance for the college to understand a student; it is also about the student being a good fit for the college.
9. Showcase Your Passion
Students need to express their enthusiasm for their chosen field of study or extracurricular activities. They can do this by sharing experiences that demonstrate their dedication and commitment. You want to convey that you’re not just seeking admission, but that you’re eager to contribute to the college community.
10. Follow Up
After the interview, students should send a thank-you email (or a personal, handwritten note) to their interviewer. This professional courtesy can leave a positive impression by showing appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
How else can International College Counselors help you with the College Admissions Interview process?
Our college advisors can give students and their families insight on the latest interview changes.
A few examples:
Interviews are no longer part of the application process.
University of Pennsylvania
Penn alumni make efforts to arrange informational conversations with applicants to provide the opportunity to get to know the Penn alumni community and for applicants to share information about themselves. These optional conversations are not evaluative. Penn Admissions will automatically opt a student in for an alumni conversation unless they indicate that they do not wish to participate. Due to the limited capacity of alumni volunteers, Penn Admissions cannot guarantee all applicants will be contacted.
Wake Forest University
If you choose to request an interview or submit a video, you must do so within five days of submitting your application.
International College Counselors
No matter where your family is in the college admissions process, International College Counselors can help you with every aspect, including college admissions interview preparation. Call us at 954-414-9986 to discuss how we can support you and your family!