Preparing for the College Interview

The college interview is an important part of the college application process. It is vital that students arrange for an interview if the college requires or recommends it. At times, due to location/distance, it is not possible to obtain an on-campus interview; it is then in students’ best interests to request an alumni interview, a telephone interview, or Skype. When preparing for the meeting, students should review the information sent by the college and visit the website for current data. The following questions may be useful in planning for the session with the admission staff. Also, students should give a copy of their activity sheet to the admissions officer.

As students prepare for an interview, they may want to practice with family members, friends, teachers, and counselors. Although the first interview can be somewhat intimidating, students will become more comfortable with practice. As part of the meeting, students might want to ask for a copy of of the student newspaper and the activities calendar. 

Students should also request the interviewer’s business card so that they can send a thank you note; students can then follow up with the interviewer in case they have any further questions. If a student is not interviewed by the person who will be evaluating his/her application, they should try to get that person's business card so they can reach out to say 'hello.'

Typical Questions from College Interviewers

  • What are your college and career goals? What do you hope to gain from the college experience?
  • What characteristics of this college are most important to you? What contributions in and out of the classroom do you hope to make? In what activities would you like to participate?
  • What are your favorite classes? What have been your most stimulating intellectual experiences? Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books? What major project or research paper are you proud of?
  • How do you evaluate your high school experience? What would you change about your high school? What would you keep the same? What is the most important thing that you learned in high school?
  • What experiences outside of school have had the greatest impact on you?
  • How would your family, teachers, and friends describe you? How has your family and hometown influenced your way of thinking? What significant challenge have you faced?
  • How do you spend your free time? What newspapers and magazines do you read? What social/political issues do you feel most passionately about? Who are your heroes and why?
  • What person in history do you most admire? What character in a book or play would you like to be?
  • What kind of person would you like to become? What would you like to change about yourself?
  • Do you have any anxieties about going to college? What are your concerns about the college search process?

Questions Students Should Ask

  • What are the unique traits of this college? What are the common complaints from students?
  • What are the opportunities for internships, study abroad, research and other special programs?
  • Ask about the safety of the campus and security concerns.
  • Inquire about merit scholarships and the procedure for applying for them.
  • Does the school accept AP courses or college credit courses? What are the placement procedures for incoming freshmen?
  • Which student organizations are most active? What are the current student issues on campus?
  • What plans does the administration have for the college over the next few years? Changes in facilities? Changes in academic offerings? Changes in student life?
  • How will budget cuts/the current economy affect college decisions: admissions, financial aid packages, academic programs, student services, class availability?
  • Which academic departments are most popular?
  • Does financial need influence an admissions decision? What percent of financial need as indicated by the FAFSA is typically awarded?
  • Are there separate freshmen dorms? How are roommates selected? Are there specific activities for freshmen on weekends? What percent of the student body remains on campus for the weekend?
  • Is this college a good match for me? Do my credentials fit within the range of your accepted students? What do you recommend that I do to improve my chances here?
  • If the interviewer is a current student, this is a great opportunity to ask them specific questions about their experience – What did you do this weekend? What frustrates you? What has been particularly meaning ful about your experience?

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus