The college application process is a long and grueling one. Beyond answering essay questions and provided every detail of your high school career, some colleges also require you to interview with an admissions representative or alumni of the university to which you are applying to.
A college interview is the opportunity to show up as your best self and go beyond the structured essay component of the application. An interview is the key to giving your admissions representative a true insight into your personality and all the assets you can bring to the school as well as how you will benefit from their institution within the next few years.
On the day of your interview, dress the part and go into it with no doubt in your mind that you will be the best candidate that walks through the door that day. Attitude is everything and goes hand in hand with preparedness. The best way to truly prepare for this golden opportunity is to be aware of every question coming your way, and below I have crafted a list of everything you may be asked during your interview:
- Tell us about yourself: Think about what makes you, well, you. You want to talk about your hobbies, accomplishments passions, and plans for the future so that the interviewer has personalized things to remember you by.
- Why do you want to attend ____? What appeals to you most? Give three concrete reasons that are specific to that college. Is there a professor you want to learn from? A course that is only offered there you want to take? Taking time to personalize your response beyond it’s a “beautiful campus” shows that you have a genuine interest.
- What do you want to major in and why? Be honest, whether you’re undecided or ready to take on pre-med, tell you’re interviewer what course of study you want to pursue and why. Even if you have no idea exactly what you want to study, speak to some potential majors that interest you. For example, if you enjoyed your English courses and were a member of the student newspaper at your high school, you can use those experiences to say how you may want to major in Journalism or Communications.
- What are your greatest strengths? Before your interview, formulate a list of adjectives that best describe you and that you can speak to on a personal level. Then look at those adjectives and try to think of a story or example that relates to them. As you probably learned in English, it’s better to show, don’t tell. So if one of your greatest strengths is that you are driven, instead of simply stating that as fact, support your claim by talking about how you are involved in three extracurriculars or spend your summers shadowing a PR professional. Now is the time to be more personable and become more than an application in the teetering pile.
- What are your weaknesses? How have you improved upon/handled them? Don’t be too negative if this question arises, but be prepared to admit that you’re not the most patient person, or working in groups isn’t your strong suit. No one is perfect and no one is expecting you to be, and speak to how you have learned from situations where you’re weaknesses have shown.
- What do you plan to do immediately after you graduate? And ten years down the road? Have fun with this question because at this time in your life the world is your oyster. No dream is out of reach or impossible, and it’s up to you to pursue your passions right now, so tell the interviewer how their university will help you to succeed.
- What would you change about your high school career/your specific high school itself? Here’s the chance to reflect on the past four years and point out something you have realized along the way. Did you attend high school in a rural area? A city? Are there clubs you wished you would have joined? How has all of this shaped you and what did you learn?
- Whom do you admire most in your life? This is a fun question and lets the interviewer see what you are really like. Is your mom your greatest hero? Or maybe it’s the freshman year English teacher who helped you get on track to go to college. Or perhaps it’s a notable alum for their college? It’s most important, to be honest with these questions and show who has inspired you to succeed and pursue a higher education.
- If you were to invite one famous person dead or alive to a dinner party who would it be and why? I was actually asked this question during an interview once, and off the top of my head, I actually found it difficult to produce an answer because there are so many people I admire. I would recommend thinking about three people in the public sphere or from the past that have inspired you.
- What is your favorite book? Everyone has favorite books! The problem is choosing just one, but if you can cite a quote(s) from the heart, chances are that book has stuck with you for a reason.
- Why do you want to receive a higher education? What do you wish to accomplish in your undergraduate career? Don’t be afraid to talk about your biggest aspirations. Show that you dream big and are ready to accomplish greatness in the next four years and beyond.
- What do you do for fun? The interviewer knows that you are not studying or playing soccer every single minute of your life, so be honest here as well. Talk about how you love to bake in your spare time, ski with your cousins, or your blog that you update regularly. Just make sure to keep it PG.
- Describe an obstacle you have faced and how you overcame it. This is an extremely popular question because the interviewer wants to understand how you handle stress and situations you are uncomfortable in. (Because, newsflash, college is full of stressful, uncomfortable situations.) Be sure to talk about what you have learned and how it has improved who you are today.
- What makes you unique? The adjective list will come in handy again here, but you could also tell a story that displays your unique qualities as well. Have you been involved with a certain organization? Do you work three jobs to pay for your sports teams and college applications? Don’t hold back here.
- Describe your dream school. Describe the university you are interviewing for in a roundabout way, as in pertaining to small class sizes or loud school spirit. Let the interviewer know that you have done your research and know your facts.
- What clubs and activities are you involved in? Talk about your accomplishments and a favorite memory from your four years. The more personal you are, the more the interviewer can get to know you and remember you.
- What leadership position(s) have you held and what was the biggest takeaway for you? Colleges love leadership experience because it shows that you have demonstrated the ability to be mature and organize people. Whether you were captain of the lacrosse team or debate club or the President of your class, talk about what you did and how you learned to lead.
How did your interview go? Let us know in the comments below and show us your interview ready outfit on social media! Don’t forget to tag @cfashionista.
Featured photo by @kindakaili.