What to Expect at School Admission Interviews

Some colleges require an admissions interview before accepting students into their school. This allows the college to come to know the student as a real person, rather than just as a piece of paper or an essay. Getting to the interview point is an accomplishment in and of itself, but if you want to get accepted to your dream college, you’re going to have to put in the extra work to prepare yourself.

Here are a few tips and things to expect at a college admissions interview.

Questions About Academics

You should expect to be asked questions about your academic record. Now, this does not mean you should memorize the grades you received, though knowing your GPA would be helpful. Rather, it means you should spend time preparing to discuss your academic life:

  • What subject do you find most challenging?
  • Which is your favorite and least favorite?
  • What is your favorite book? What are your study habits?
  • How challenging was your course load for you?

These are just some of the possible questions you may be asked. Try to think of all the different questions an interviewer might ask about your academic career so you'll know how to answer.

prep for college interview

Questions About Extracurricular Activities

Another aspect you will most definitely be asked about is your life outside of the classroom. You may be asked about the sorts of extracurricular activities you are a part of or the clubs you're a member of.

You may be asked about whether or not you hold a part time job after school or if you do volunteer work. While these items will most definitely be listed on your college application as well, the interviewers want to hear you talk about them. This is your opportunity to elaborate on your activities and discuss why you partake in them and how you feel they have enriched your life in some way. Passion and commitment to an organization or project is admirable but also be careful not to get too overly exuberant with your answers.

Also note, that specific extracurricular activities that are somehow connected to your degree may also help you receive grants and scholarships in the future, so it's never too early to get involved.

Questions About Your Goals

You should also expect to be asked about your goals in life. Be prepared to talk about your goals as a student in high school and in college. You should also be prepared to discuss how you plan to use your degree for your career:

  • What are you going to major in?
  • Why have you selected this major?
  • How do you see yourself fitting in with our school?
  • How will you use your degree when you graduate?
  • How will the college experience help you achieve your long-term goals?

All of these questions are possibilities, so prepare accordingly.

Your Demeanor

As far as expectations go, they work both ways. While you can expect what will happen at an interview, the interviewers also expect you to be prepared and to show them a certain amount of respect.

  • Dress appropriately in business casual attire.
  • Be polite and shake the hands of your interviewers upon entering the room.
  • Arrive early so you have time to collect your thoughts.
  • Try not to fidget or appear nervous during the interview. The interviewers know this may very well be your first interview, so some level of nervousness is to be expected. Even so, they want you to be prepared as well. Take deep cleansing breaths if you start to feel overwhelmed.

If at all possible have a friend throw you some practice questions while recording or videotaping your answers; once you see yourself in the mock interview you will quickly notice peculiar speech patterns such as "um's" and "like", which you can quickly eradicate. To help alleviate those stammers, pause before each answer and really think for a moment instead of offering something that sounds over-practiced and rote.

A Professional Environment

Finally, expect to be in a professional environment during your admissions interview. It will be quite a contrast from your high school, but the sooner you get used to the professional realm, the sooner you will feel comfortable. Expect people to call you Mr. or Ms. You can also expect people to be dressed somewhat formally and to speak properly. It can be intimidating to walk into such an environment unaware, but knowing what you will be faced with ahead of time can help tremendously.

And it can't be stressed enough to get a good night's sleep the night before. Yes, you will most likely be nervous and that might affect your ability to sleep, but going to your admissions interview bleary-eyed (or worse, hungover) will not reflect well on you at all.

In many ways, acing your admissions interview is like a rite of passage – you've put in the work and, thanks to this guide, you should have everything you need to feel prepared. So have a quiet night the night before, get your clothes in order and laid-out nicely, and prepare to wow them with all the reasons you'll make a great addition to their school.