What Type of Preparation Is Needed for a College Interview?

Not all colleges and universities require an interview as part of the admission process, but if you're applying to a school that either requires or recommends one, the college interview is especially important. Information gathered from an interview could be a tie-breaker when an admissions department is considering applicants with matching test scores and high school transcripts. Read on to learn about the type of preparation that may benefit you.

College Interview Preparation

Although criteria such as standardized test scores and high school transcripts speak to your academic record, a college interview allows the school to see beyond the statistics. Colleges are often more interested in the person as a whole than in a student's academic achievements alone. When all academic factors are equal, a student who is well-rounded, well-spoken and confident may have an edge over a student who is only strong on paper. Because of this importance, you should be well-prepared.

Frequent Interview Question Categories

All About You You're likely to be asked about your top weaknesses and strengths, so plan ahead. Discuss your weaknesses, but also how you've worked to overcome them. Colleges want to see your self-awareness and that you can speak articulately.
Your Interests Interviewers want to get to know you in order to determine if you're a good fit for their school. They might ask about favorite books or career aspirations. Be honest, and highlight activities you'd like to participate in on campus.
Your Campus Contribution College interviewers want to see what you can add to their campus. Give answers that are unique and specific to why you chose this college. Highlight your previous achievements and what you'd like to accomplish while attending.
Your Opinions and Insights You may be asked more high-reaching questions, like your goals for the next ten years, or your insights on current social and economic issues. Brush up on current events, and have a clear sense of your ethics and values.

Research the School

During the interview, colleges want to know that you're genuinely interested in their institution. Although the interviewer will ask most of the questions, most schools give applicants the chance to ask some questions of their own. Students who have thoroughly researched the school and are prepared to ask specific questions demonstrate to the admissions committee both a high level of seriousness and an interest in the school and its programs.

Practice

It's important to practice interviewing before the actual appointment, both to calm your nerves and to prepare your answers. Many high schools offer opportunities to participate in mock interviews, which may be helpful to you. You can also practice at home with your family or with your friends. Make sure you prepare thoughtful, original answers. Be ready to explain why you'd fit in well with the overall mission and environment of the school. You should also be prepared to talk about academic achievements, extracurricular activities and interests, though you should be cautious about coming off as smug. See below for a table of common types of interview questions.

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