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How to Prepare for a College Interview

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If you are worried about your college interview, you are not alone. Even the most outgoing and talkative students find the process a bit unnerving. However, if you want to make the most of the situation, preparedness is vital. Planning for this important sit-down can take the edge off any anxiety you might have.

In this article, we will give you some of the most common questions college interviewers ask and how to prepare yourself to answer them. But first, let’s look at why the interview is so important.

What Is the Point of a College Interview?

During a college interview, the school has the opportunity to put a face to your application. They get a chance to learn a little bit more about you than what is on paper, such as your hobbies, personality, and interests. Most importantly, they determine how you can contribute to the student body and if you are a good fit.

These days, there are not as many colleges that require interviews. Most large universities do not offer them because the number of applicants makes it impractical. However, some smaller and selective colleges still utilize them. To find out if the college you are interested in offers interviews, contact the admissions office. Interviews typically take place on campus, but sometimes an admissions representative in your area can conduct one as well.

If you have the opportunity to get interviewed, you should take it. Participating in a college interview (especially when it is optional) shows demonstrated interest that can increase your chances of getting admitted.

Another important reason to go to a college interview is to address your own questions and concerns. If you have things you are still unclear about, a one-on-one meeting with an admissions official can help clear them up and assist you in making a final decision about whether the school is right for you.

Typical College Interview Questions

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In the next part of this article, we will take a look at a series of common questions asked during a typical interview. Study them and practice your answers with a friend, teacher, or parent. By preparing yourself to respond to these questions thoroughly, you will be well on your way to acing your college interview.

1. What Can You Tell Me About Yourself?

This is likely one of the first questions an interviewer will ask at the beginning of your meeting, so make it count. It is well worth it to prepare to make a unique statement that sums up something memorable about yourself. Avoid using terms and descriptions that are too general. Instead of saying you are compassionate, explain what drives your level of compassion and how important it is to you. Rather than saying you are a hard-working student; talk about the different methods you have come up with to study.

Discuss the things that inspire you, such as your interests and activities. Make sure you practice answering this first question carefully and solicit the advice of others to make sure it sounds like a good statement of who you are.

2. What Makes You Want to Attend This College?

This vital question shows the interviewer that you are in earnest about attending their school. The answer will demonstrate that you take your application seriously. To be able to answer confidently, you want to make sure you have done plenty of research ahead of time.

Make sure you know exactly why you want to attend the school and be specific about the details. Tell the interviewer about any unique reasons you have for wanting to be a part of the student body. Don’t just spout off facts about rankings or reputation. Talk about what drew you to the school, its culture, its values, and how they line up with your own.

3. Why Do You Want to Study _____?

If you have already chosen a major, the interviewer may ask what makes you so interested in that particular subject. They want to see what your academic goals are. Tell them the truth about your aspirations and what inspired you to pursue a specific course of study. Don’t be vague, as this won’t demonstrate you have a genuine interest. Instead, speak thoughtfully about the experiences you have had thus-far that sparked an interest in this particular subject and about what makes it exciting for you.

4. What Are Some of Your Strengths?

Colleges really want to know where you are likely to excel academically, so don’t just say something like, “I’m good at science.” Explain your academic strengths in terms of how they came about, how much effort you have put into your skills, and how you use them each day.

You don’t have to limit yourself to your academic skills either. If one of your strengths is that you are good in a crisis or that you are extremely organized, talk about these as well.

5. What Are Your Weaknesses?

This is one of those questions nobody enjoys, but the answer can indicate some critical things about you as a person. Colleges want students who are aware of themselves and who understand that they, like all students, have some areas of weakness. What they really want to know is how well you will persist in overcoming these challenges.

One way to approach this question is to reveal a time when one of your weaknesses caused difficulty for you and what skills you used to manage that difficulty.

6. What Can You Contribute to Our College?

To answer this, you should have at least one or two specific goals in mind that you intend to pursue during your time at college. Do you want to be involved in particular service projects or assume a leadership role in a school organization? Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say you will get good grades or use other vague answers. Schools want to admit new students who will make a difference on campus and who are interested in making the college and the world a better place.

7. Where Do You Want to Be 10 Years From Now?

This can be a frustrating question because you probably don’t know the answer right now. But here’s a little secret—most people never have the answer to this question.

Understand that when an interviewer asks this question, they are not expecting you to have an entire 10-year plan all worked out. What they are actually looking for is forward-thinking students who can motivate themselves to set and achieve goals. To answer this question, avoid vague generalities like saying you hope to have a rewarding career. Instead, narrow down one or two specific activities that are actionable, achievable, and believable.

Do you want to visit South America by the time you are 30? Are you planning to learn how to ski? Do you want to own horses? These answers show you have some direction and aspirations. Your answers should be uniquely you and not something anyone else could say.

8. Who Is Someone You Admire?

The answer to this question can give the interviewer a sense of the values you hold. Many people will name a relative or historical figure. It’s not so important whom you admire as the reason you admire them. What has this person explicitly done that causes your admiration? Did they overcome a particular challenge? Think carefully about what it is that makes them special to you and come at it from that angle.

9. What Is Your Favorite Book?

Think about the books you have read and what you like about them. How did they inspire you? Was it a childhood book or something you read recently? How did you relate to the characters? What did you learn that shaped your values and perspectives? If you can name a couple of books in this manner, even better. Colleges definitely like to see enthusiastic readers!

10. What Do You Like to Do for Fun?

This is another one of those questions that help to assess your personality. It should not be hard to answer this as long as you are honest. You might think your version of fun is too humdrum, but the best answer is one that reflects who you are. Do you like to bake or garden? Say so! Talk about how you got started with these activities and what makes them meaningful to you. Just because you don’t participate in dramatic activities like skydiving does not mean your contribution to the student body will be any less. (On the other hand, if skydiving is your favorite activity, say so!)

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Final Thoughts

When you prepare for your college interview, write down some key points in a notebook, and practice your responses with someone else. Pretend that they are the interviewer and picture how you want to answer. Be as detailed as you can and set yourself apart from the rest of the applicants by revealing what makes you unique and special.

Obviously, your interviewer might not ask every one of the above questions. They may even have other questions you had not practiced for. In this case, don’t get flustered. If you aren’t sure how to answer, say so. As long as you are genuine and polite, there is no need to be concerned. Give honest answers and be yourself and the rest will fall into place.

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