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College Interviews

Tips For College Interviews

5 min readaugust 28, 2021

fiveable-dylan

Dylan Black


Tips For College Interviews

What is a College Interview?

College interviews are typically a second round of the application process. Applicants submit their applications and are usually required or encouraged to participate in an interview hosted by an admissions officer or an alumnus 🧑‍🎓 of the college. These interviews consist of questions about your professional and educational career, what you like to do, who you are as a person, and why you’re interested in the school itself. Many students dread these interviews because of how cryptic 🔐 their benefits are to your application, but fear not, Fiveable is here to help! In this article, we’ll discuss why you should opt for a college interview and give some tips for making a great impression on your interviewer.

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What Are the Benefits of Doing College Interviews?

Most schools make interviews optional for applicants, so why should you spend time preparing for and being part of an interview? The most apparent benefit of an interview is that it displays demonstrated interest to admissions officers. By taking the time to sit down with an admissions officer or alumnus and discussing even basic things about yourself, officers see that you are genuinely interested in their school. This makes you more likely to gain admission to the school even if your interview isn’t anything incredible. In fact, college interviews rarely hurt an applicant except in the worst-case scenario. For an interview to make a negative impact, you would have to be actively rude or insulting 😒 to your interviewer, which we’re sure you won’t be! If you're still unsure about interviews, check out this Fiveable guide for college interview preparation tips.
Interviews can also be beneficial for you as an applicant. Most interviews allow you to ask questions 🧐 about the school itself, which can help you understand whether or not you’re actually interested. If you really want to attend a school, talking to an alumnus (or sometimes even current students) can help you understand why you chose the school in the first place, what you want to get out of your college experience, and if the school meets these needs. Let’s jump into some tips for college interviews!

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Tip #1: Be Your Best True Self

The biggest tip we have for college interviews is to be yourself! College interviewers see through facades and know that students will artificially present themselves to fit a standard that they think the school holds. In reality, they want to see you! Note that this doesn’t mean you can show up and have zero professionalism–just be sure to show off your own flair 🤗. Don’t be afraid to seem quirky or weird because often, that’s what schools want! You had your whole application to discuss your test scores, grades, and other quantifiable 📝 aspects of your career, but the interview gives you an opportunity to have an open conversation about your other accomplishments. As such, you should feel comfortable being authentic. While you may think that being yourself will lead to possible rejection, remember that interviews rarely hurt admissions and that colleges want to know you!

Tip #2: Anticipate Questions Ahead of Time

Many students worry about admissions interviews because they don’t know what questions will be asked. However, you can pretty effectively predict their questions by thinking about the goals 🎯 of the interview. Of course, every college has different questions, but most fall along the same wavelength of wanting to get to know you. They also may wish to discuss your goals and what you want to accomplish at the school. By thinking about these questions ahead of time, you can feel more confident and prepared for the interview. However, we don’t recommend writing ✍️ out answers because you’ll sound robotic. For more practice, check out this fiveable guide that breaks down college interviews!

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Tip #3: Don’t Feel Limited

At the end of the day, an interview is just a formatted conversation 🗣! This means that even if an interviewer doesn’t ask specifically about something, you’re more than welcome to discuss it. This is YOUR time to shine ☀️, so you should never feel limited to what you need to talk about. Heck, you could spend a few minutes just talking about a hobby you have even if you haven’t “accomplished” anything with it. As an example, in my interview with Brandeis University, I talked about how I loved classic video games 👾 even though I had no academic intentions with gaming. If you have a passion for something, they want to hear it. This rings especially true with liberal arts universities that have values surrounding intellectual development as opposed to necessarily career growth. However, regardless of the college, they want to hear what you’re all about. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t stay relevant, however. You still want to answer the questions specifically and accurately. What we mean by this tip is that you shouldn’t be afraid to give an answer that is your own, one that truly speaks to you as opposed to one that you believe the interviewer “wants”. On the contrary, they want you to be yourself! You can also craft an elevator pitch about yourself as a unique way to introduce yourself. to your interviewer.

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Tip #4: Thank Your Interviewer

This tip may seem trivial, but it does have an impact. Being thankful 🙏 towards your interviewer leaves them with a good feeling about you and makes them feel appreciated. Make sure to express your thanks during the interview.  You can say something simple like, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me” at the beginning or end of your interview. It's always a good idea to send a short email 📧 after the interview simply thanking them for their time, insights, and questions can genuinely impact your impression with the interviewer. For more ideas about how to thank your interviewers, check out this post by Unigo!

Tip #5: Express Interest In The College

When discussing your future goals and ambitions, be sure to explicitly state how the school itself can help you achieve these goals. Interviewers look for genuine demonstrated interest, so simply tell them what gravitated you towards the school in the first place. For example, a specific program they have, a class 🧑‍🏫 that you’ve seen and look forward to taking, or a piece of their school culture that you appreciate can all be talking points to show your interest. Some interviewers will even explicitly ask you why you’re interested in the school, in which case you should have plenty to discuss.

Conclusion

College interviews can be scary, but that’s ok! They are also your time to be center stage, proving to the college that you are the best candidate for admission 🎟. A great thing to remember is that colleges want to see you, so you should feel completely comfortable showing your personality off. If you're looking for more interview tips, some of these fantastic college admissions YouTubers have great interview advice. You can also check out these amazing TikToks for more advice about college interviews and the interview process. Good luck, and as always, you got this!

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