Understanding the Process There’s no doubt that the college admissions interview causes a lot of angst. And yet, it’s rarely the deciding factor in admissions. Many schools don’t even schedule interviews or, instead, treat them as “informational meetings.” So why interview? Sometimes, admissions officers are looking for qualities that can’t be reflected in an application. “ The interview also allows them to check whether the student is a good “fit” for the institution – and vice versa. “Just because a student meets academic criteria to study at our college, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is a good match for the institution,” Stieffel says. Preparation To make sure you’re ready to give your best impression:
Know the basics. Scour the school’s brochures and Web site. Learn as much about the institution as possible before you go in. You don’t want to ask the dean of admissions about their MBA program only to find out that they don’t have an MBA program.
Review your application materials. The interviewers may use your application materials to strike up a conversation with you. Review your application essay so it’s fresh in your mind when you interview.
Interview Day Make sure you know exactly where your interview is being held. Call in advance and ask for directions if you’re unsure, and schedule enough time get there. You should also plan to arrive about 15 minutes early. Once you get in the interview room, introduce yourself and greet the interviewers with a handshake and smile. Remember that this is a conversation, and that the interview wants to know about you. Be yourself and be honest in your answers. And to score points: Provide more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Keep your answers as conversational as possible. Try to find specifics that back up your answers so you’ll be able to enter the conversation.
Afterward Send a thank-you note or email shortly after the interview. “The more interest you show in them and their institution, the more interest they may show in you,” Hamilton says. Relax, prepare and get ready to enter into a great conversation with your interviewer. Take advantage of the chance to get to know your prospective college a little better.
Doing an interview virtually? What to expect: Besides the obvious difference of not meeting face-to-face, what to expect in a virtual interview is not all that different from a physical one. Applicants should have a resume, transcript, and test scores available in a shareable format in the event they’re asked for them. Similarly, applicants should be prepared to answer a wide variety of questions about themselves—topics can include everything from questions about high school classes and extracurricular activities to future aspirations.
Check the tech: If taking the meeting on a laptop, make sure the laptop is fully charged, check your internet connection and ensure it’s stable, make sure your computer is capable of handling a video meeting, make sure the login and password to the meeting work.
Check the background: Create a distraction free background, preferably a blank background. Eliminate external noises by warning others in your surrounding area that they need to be quiet during this time.
What to wear: Business casual is a good guideline for what to wear to a college interview, whether face-to-face or through a computer. While the interviewer is likely only to see an applicant from the waist up during a virtual interview, it is still necessary to dress appropriately.
Common Interview Questions
This list is to give you an idea of what may get asked. Remember, every interview is different. Some will be formal in an office at the college, others will be at a coffee shop in Manhattan. Look over these questions and try to think of applicable stories, experiences, and conversational tools you would use if asked.
This is NOT for you to write down and "script" your answers. They want to know YOU! BE YOURSELF!
Tell me about yourself: What do you do in your free time? What do you enjoy? What are you involved in? What are you passionate about?
What made you interested in our college: How did you hear about it? What do you like about it? What do you know about it? (size, location, programs)
What can our college offer that other colleges can not? (bang for your buck? Specific program? Specific study abroad? Internship opportunities? Rigor? Distinguished professors? Small classes?)
What are your strengths? (What you do well in, could be personal or academic)
What are your weaknesses? (How do you manage them? Are you aware of them? Are you working on them?
What three words describe you?
Tell me about a challenge you have overcome? (Academic, Personal, Social)
Who in your life has influenced you most? (What did they do, what traits do they have, how has it impacted who you are today?)
Who has helped you get where you are today?
What do you intend to major in? (Why would you want to major in that? To gain more insight? You do well in that area? That area intrigues you?)
What will you contribute to our campus community? (What clubs/ activities interest you? How will you be involved? Research?)