How to Prepare for a College Admissions Interview

college admissionsCollege admissions interviews are set up by some undergraduate programs and most graduate programs as a way for you and the school to determine if the school is a good fit for you. Although most college curriculums are similar in content, all colleges are slightly different in how they present program content. For example, one college program may offer a fast track program for advanced students while another college may not. You should get to know the program from the inside-out before making any final decisions, and the admissions interview gives you that opportunity.

The interview also gives the school a chance to meet and learn more about you before making final admission decisions. This does not mean that they are looking for anything in particular when they interview you, but it does mean they want to make sure you are serious about attending and succeeding in their college program. To do this, the interviewer will ask you a series of questions aimed at discovering your interest in the particular subject and your goals during school and after graduation.

Some common questions asked by interviewers are:

-Why do you want to go to college?

-Why have you chosen this particular college and this particular program of study?

-What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

-Can you tell me about a challenge you overcame, independently or in a team?

-What are your post-graduation plans?

-What can I tell you about this college and this program?

There is no one right way to answer these questions, so don’t approach them with the idea that there is a “perfect” answer. You will want to prepare honest answers that are to-the-point and reflect your personality. The interviewer will invariably pick up on dishonest or embellished responses, so just be you. Having said that, you still need to practice what you want to say if asked these questions.

Another question that may be asked is, “Can you tell me a little about yourself?” This is one of the most common questions asked in all types of career-based interviews. For this question, there are some answers you will want to avoid.

When an interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, they are asking you to explain yourself in the present. They do not want to know where and when you were born, where you went to elementary school and how many school activities you were involved in from age five to 18. Think about whom you are today and what professional goals you have achieved and want to achieve in the near future. This is an answer that is most relevant to college admissions and will most impress your interviewer.

Once you feel comfortable with your responses to potential questions, you will need to decide on what to wear to the interview. This is actually a relatively easy task, as both men and women should stick to professional business attire. Men should wear a button-up shirt and tie, dress slacks and socks and dress shoes. Women should also wear a professional blouse or button-up shirt, dress slacks or skirt and demure dress shoes. Clothing should be neatly pressed and shoes should be clean.

In addition, there are a few other things women should consider when choosing their interview attire. Wear a blouse that covers the chest area and does not ride up when seated to expose the stomach or back, keep skirts at knee length when standing, keep high heels at no more than three inches and minimize perfume and makeup. These tips will keep the interviewer focused on you and not on what you are wearing.

In addition to dress, there are a few behavior pointers that you can use to impress and connect with your interviewer. First, make sure to keep good eye contact with your interviewer when he or she is speaking to you. Second, when you are first greeted, stand and give your interviewer a firm handshake, and smile and introduce yourself. A common, easy introduction is, “Hi, nice to meet you! I’m ________.”

Once in the interview room, take a seat and try to remain still while keeping good posture and a pleasant look on your face. If you find yourself feeling nervous, just inhale and exhale slowly through your nose and smile.

When the interview has ended, shake your interviewer’s hand again and thank them for their time. Even if you decide you are not interested in the program, write a thank-you note to the school expressing your continued interest or your decision not to attend.

Lastly, one important thought to keep in your head before the interview is that this is less about you and more about finding the best school for you. Relax and good luck!

About the Author:

This guest post comes courtesy of Mariana Ashley, a freelance writer who offers online colleges advice throughout the interweb and welcomes responses at