How to Crack the College Interview


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College interview. These two words are enough to send a shiver down the spine of college applicants all over the globe. College aspirants spend sleepless nights thinking about the fateful college interview that could decide the course of their education and even their careers.

While it is okay to be nervous and have a few butterflies in your stomach, a college interview is not a tough nut to crack if you know what to expect and have prepared well to face it head on. Let’s dissect the college interview process and focus on some common questions that might be hurled at you during the interview!

What Is a College Interview?

Though termed as an interview, it is a conversational exercise between the admission officer and college applicant where the applicant’s merit is reviewed and evaluated. A college interview can be informative to the applicants as it gives them a chance to clear their questions regarding the college. It can be summarized as an exchange of information and intellect between the college authorities and the applicants.

Why Is It Important?

The interview helps admission authorities to select the perfect candidates based on characteristics and qualities displayed during the interview. It is an opportunity for applicants to showcase their personality, verbal skills, intellect, and highlight what makes them stand out in a crowd. A college interview provides the perfect platform for admission officers to decide whether an applicant will fit into a particular program and whether he or she will add value to the college’s culture.

How To Prepare for the College Interview?

Preparation is the key to success in every aspect of life and it’s no different with the college interview. Here are a few things that one should do to avoid buckling under the pressure and anxiety of a college interview:

  • Research about the college

First and foremost, it is crucial that you know all the information about the college that is out there on website and brochures. Research extensively about the college and the programs that they offer. This will give you a clear picture of what to expect and will spare you the embarrassment of asking basic but silly questions during the interview.   

  • Revise your college application

The admission officer tries to strike a conversation by asking questions based on your application. So, it is important that you revise your college application and are well aware of the things that you have mentioned in it. Refresh your memory about the college essay so that you can answer questions regarding it with ease and confidence.

  • Prepare answers for common interview questions

Interview questions are not rocket science but simply an exercise to know about your qualities, passions, goals and thought process. There are a handful of questions that every interviewer uses to assess the merit of the applicant. As a college aspirant, one needs to be aware of these questions and prepare answers for them. Commonly asked interview questions are further discussed in detail later in the article.

  • Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask

Since a college interview is a two-way exchange of dialogue, an applicant should not just answer what he or she is being asked but should also come up with interesting questions about the college. After thorough research about the college, prepare a list of questions that you wish to ask about the program you are interested in, campus life, career prospects, etc.

  • Indulge in mock interviews

The best way to beat the jitters around the interview is to take part in mock interviews and practice. Once you are aware of how the interview process takes place, the fear of unknown and of failure diminishes. The more you practice by indulging in mock interviews, the more relaxed and confident you will feel about the actual interview. While it is good to ask your peers and family members to take up the role of mock interviewers, it would be great if you can practice with a person of authority, like a teacher or a counsellor.

What Are the Common Interview Questions?

There are three types of common interview questions: College-related questions, Personality-related questions, Hobbies/Goal-related questions.

College-related questions

1) Why do you want to study in our college?

2) What can you add to the campus culture of our college?

Answer: When you are asked college-related questions, it is your chance to talk about why you chose this particular college and why you think you will be a perfect fit in the campus. Talk about how the program you want to apply for gives you an opportunity to realize your goals and how your characteristics and extracurricular skills will make you gel well with others..

Personality-related questions

1) Tell me about yourself.

2) What are your strengths and weaknesses?

3) Describe one problem that troubled you and how you overcame it.

4) What three adjectives define you?

5) What are your views on racism/homosexuality/gun culture/etc.?

Answer: Ideally, answer these types of questions as honestly as possible as the interviewer assesses your personality through them. Try to describe yourself and your qualities in an interesting format. Don’t just talk about your strengths but also give them an example of how you used your strengths in real life situations. Similarly, talk about your weakness and how you handle it. Be aware of current events and have a strong opinion about the social and economic problems of the world.

Hobbies or Goal-related questions

1) What is your favorite book and why?

2) How do you spend your free time?

3) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Answer: This is your chance to show your fun side. Describe your goals and dreams in detail and make the interviewer believe in them. This is your opportunity to talk about your passions and your aim in life.

Tips for Acing the College Interview

  • Follow formal dress code: Ideally, attend the interview wearing formals. Dressing up in casuals may it give off the vibe that you aren’t serious enough about the college.
  • Know the whereabouts of the interview: Visit the campus at least a day in advance and check out the venue where the interview is going to take place to avoid any last minute hassles or confusion.
  • Reach the venue 15 minutes early: Reach the venue at least 15 minutes in advance so that you have enough time to relax and calm yourself before the interview.
  • Greet the interviewer with confidence: As soon as you come face to face with the interviewer, put on a cordial smile and greet the interviewer with confidence. First impressions go a long way!
  • Be honest: Never pretend to be someone you’re not as it is extremely easy to catch one’s lies in a face-to-face interview. If you haven’t won awards and medals in sports or extracurricular activities, don’t boast about it for the sake of impressing the admission officer. More often than not, this trick will backfire.
  • Give elaborate answers: The college interview is a chance for you to prove how different and unique you are from the rest of the lot. If you are just going to stick to yes or no answers, then the interviewer might form a negative impression about you. Utilize this opportunity to support your responses with relevant examples/anecdotes that showcase your best qualities.

College interviews can be a stressful affair without adequate preparation and practice. But you don’t need to lose sleep over your college interview – just follow the guidelines mentioned in the article and you’ll rock that interview!