What Is a College Interview?

College interviews enable prospective students and colleges to learn more about each other. While many institutions have gotten rid of interviews as part of the admission process, some still use them as a way to distinguish between applicants and make admission decisions.

The College Interview

An interview at most colleges is optional, but many prospective students choose to participate in them because it gives them a chance to set themselves apart from other applicants. Many colleges encourage you to conduct an interview with an alumni member or admissions representative, according to the Princeton Review. College interviewers usually ask prospective students about their academic record, background, educational goals and extracurricular activities.

Important Facts About College Programs

Types of Interview Questions Why you want to attend the college, your chosen major or interests, how you'll contribute to the school, your challenges and achievements
Typical Interview Length 30-60 minutes
How to Dress Professional, yet comfortable
Median Weekly Earnings (2018)$862 (Associate's degree)
$1,198 (Bachelor's degree)
$1,434 (Master's degree)
$1,825 (Doctoral degree)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)11% growth (Associate's and postsecondary nondegree-level occupations)
10% growth (Bachelor's-level occupations)
17% growth (Master's-level occupations)
13% growth (Doctoral- and professional-level occupations)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Interview Types

Since colleges receive hundreds of applications a year from prospective students, some ask their alumni to help conduct interviews, according to Bates College (www.bates.edu). These are usually evaluative interviews, during which the alumni will complete an evaluation report once the interview is over and then send it to the college's admissions office. Information on Yale University's website (www.yale.edu) indicates the institution doesn't require an interview for potential freshmen, but they do recommend students take advantage of the chance to meet with an alumni member or a university senior to provide more information about themselves that will be considered in the admission process.

Colleges may also conduct informational interviews with groups of prospective students and their parents during campus visits. Potential students can learn about the college's history, educational programs and campus life. According to Smith College, regardless of the interview type, interviewers are looking for prospective students who are enthusiastic, intelligent, honest, creative and independent. Interviewers also look for students who demonstrate leadership.

Interview Preparation

Prospective students want to make a good impression on the interviewer, whether in an individual or group interview. Therefore, according to the Emma Willard School, individuals participating in a college interview should prepare themselves for the interview by:

  • Researching the college
  • Preparing questions
  • Being ready to answer personal questions
  • Talking positively about themselves
  • Being on time

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