Ah, college interview questions. For many aspiring college students, the idea of participating in a college interview is, in a word, terrifying. Like a job interview, this meeting may determine whether you get into your first-choice school. Cue the anxiety, right? Well, that may not be necessary.
First, yes, it’s true that not all colleges conduct interviews, especially at the undergraduate level. However, they are standard practice at others, particularly with highly competitive programs.
Boston University – which only admits about 23 percent of applicants – has undergraduate interviews for at least some of its programs. Harvard – which has an acceptance rate of just 4.9 percent – actually has an alumni interviewer process, where prospective students speak with a Harvard alum, which catches some applicants off guard.
Now, does that mean you should panic? Hardly. Instead, you need to prepare. So, if you want to make sure you rock your college interview questions, here’s what you need to know to pull it off.
Download our “Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet” that gives you word-for-word sample answers to some of the most common interview questions including:
Why did you choose this program/major?
Here’s another question that’s all about gauging your interest and passion. Interviewers don’t want to hear that you chose a program or major as an afterthought; they want to learn about a solid reason why you’re heading in this direction.
Ideally, you want to touch on a driving force, something that really sparked your interest in the field. Additionally, tie it into a future aspiration, such as your target career or professional field and why it’s your goal to get there.
COLLEGE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS from the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA’S SUGGESTED ALUMNI
General introduction Interview Questions: What is this student like? Personal Qualities: evident initiative, communication skills, comfort with ideas.
Academic and Personal Interests Interview Questions: What does this student like?
Penn’s resources: what they know, what theyve heard, what theyll love. What would this student be like at Penn?
Share your Penn experience:
Here are some additional interview questions that we believe can facilitate a great conversation between yourself and the applicant:
Here are some actual video samples from our friends at Penn.
See how direct and simple this is once you divvy up what you have to do? After you’ve handled that huge college application checklist, this interview process will be a piece of cake. If nothing else, you’ll feel more confident, which will make you a more engaging and exciting interviewee.
Don’t believe me? According to Sayaka Smith, a Tufts Undergraduate Admissions Officer, college interviews “are meant to be informal conversations and an alumni interviewer’s job is to get to know you as a 3D human being and tell us a little more about you.” That’s it! You won’t be graded or win points. This isn’t Jeopardy. Your interview isn’t on TV (you are on a screen this year, though!).
You’re not alone. College interviews seem scary, for real. It’s easy to become anxious and stressed about college interviews, but you’ve made it this far, having surmounted obstacles like grades, extracurriculars, writing your essays, and putting together your application. Having a respectful, open, and casual conversation about all of that is much easier than you think.
However, you do need to prepare for that informal conversation. So instead of stressing, focus all that nervous energy into what you can do right now: