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College Interview Tips: Effective Ways to Scale your Interview in 2023

Have you been invited to a university admissions interview and are now frightened and unsure of what to expect? In this post, we’ll show you how to ace your college interviews using the most successful techniques easily. Interviews for college admissions are usually either evaluative or instructive. To get admission to highly prominent colleges,
Evaluative interviews are required. 

A personal interview is required as part of the admissions process at a college or university. It might happen on campus, off-campus, or even online. The interviewer is interested in learning more about you, your hobbies, and your ability to succeed in their program. You can also inquire about the school, degree programs, or any other subject you want to learn more about. 

All colleges do not require interviews. However, if you are given the option, you should take it. Requesting an interview demonstrates your genuine interest in the program and allows the interviewer to discover more about you than in your application packet. 

Because university admissions assessors are likely to encounter many applicants, you should consider how you might stand out and make a positive impression. When interviewers ask you to tell them about yourself (a question that will almost certainly come up), attempt to create a memorable response. This is your chance to express your enthusiasm for your chosen topic, your long-term goals, and the attributes that will help you succeed academically. 

Why Have an Interview?

Although the interview is rarely the deciding element in whether or not a college will accept you, it might provide an opportunity for a representative from the college to learn more about you. In addition, the interview provides you with the opportunity to:  

  • Show your interest in the college. 
  • Share information about yourself beyond what’s listed on your transcript. 
  • Bring up anything in your record that you’d like to explain, like a temporary drop in your grades. 
  • Discuss your goals and the reasons you want to attend the college. 
  • Ask questions about the college. 

What to Expect During Your Interview

You’ll speak with the interviewer one-on-one. If your parent joins you for the interview, he or she will most likely not be present during the interview but may have the opportunity to speak with the interviewer afterwards. 

“Why do you want to go to college?” and “Why do you want to attend this
 are examples of interview questions. He or she might also inquire about your high school experiences, hobbies, and achievements. More interview questions and methods can be found here. 

If you have any questions, the interviewer will ask them. Asking questions demonstrates your interest in the college and allows you to obtain information not available on the internet or in a brochure.

If you’re interested in a certain major, inquire about the program. Inquire about campus life if you intend to live on campus. Just try to avoid asking questions that you can easily find answers to on the college’s website. 

How to Prepare for College Interview

To begin, determine whether interviews are required, optional, or not available at all. If the college needs or offers interviews, check the website or contact the admissions office to learn more about how to schedule one. If you need to travel to the college for an interview, you might wish to include a campus tour in your itinerary. 

After you’ve arranged an interview, there are a few things you may do to prepare. One crucial step is to conduct research on the college so that you are prepared to discuss why the college is a good fit for you. Doing practice interviews with family and friends is also a wonderful idea. Find out more about how to get ready. 

While it’s a good idea to prepare ahead of time, you shouldn’t memorize answers to popular interview questions or prepare a speech; instead, the interview should be a

Tips for a Successful College Interview

When you prepare for your college interview, you can increase the chances your interview will be successful. The following tips may help you plan for your interview:  

1. Write down questions you have about the college to ask during your interview. Consider creative questions that can’t be easily answered from the school’s website.

2. Learn where the interview will be held and practice getting there. Be familiar with the route to the location, including directions to the school, building and office. This will help avoid getting lost or confused and possibly missing your interview.

3. Practice how you will answer interview questions with a friend, family member or even in a mirror to help you plan what to say and how to present your answer. You want to demonstrate enthusiasm and energy.

4. Review your application packet and admission essays. Most interviewers will ask questions taken directly from those documents so you must remember what you said or wrote. Be prepared to expand on any information that you provided.

5. Bring any transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume or other evidence to show how you succeeded in high school. The documents were likely included in your admission packet but copies may be needed for additional interviewers.

6. First impressions are important. Arrive on time, preferably 15 minutes early. Dress appropriately in work attire and maintain eye contact. Shake the interviewer’s hand. Talk naturally without slang or swear words. If it’s a virtual interview, make sure the background is appropriate.

7. Turn your smartphone off and be prepared to sit for 30 minutes or more. Have a snack, a glass of water or a small meal before your interview so you don’t go into it with an empty stomach. If you have allergies, take your own small packet of tissues.

8. Keep up with news and current events in case the interviewer asks for your opinions. You may also work current events into other answers to show that you are an informed person who cares about what’s happening outside the classroom.

9. Be yourself, so the interviewer gets a feel of who you are, how you might fit into degree programs and what you might bring to the school. Show the interviewer that you are serious, poised and mature. Also, you want them to see your confidence, so smile!

10. Follow up the interview with a thank-you note sent by mail or email. Express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and the college’s interest in you. 

More Interview Tips

You can’t pass or fail an interview, but you can make a good impression by doing the following:  

  • Dress nicely, not in jeans and a T-shirt. 
  • Arrive early. 
  • Be polite. 
  • Avoid using slang or other inappropriate language. 
  • Be confident but not arrogant. 
  • Answer questions honestly. 
  • Send a thank-you note to your interviewer after the interview. 

What to Do Before and After Your College Interview

Use this checklist to prepare for your college interviews and to handle any details that
may arise thereafter. Staying calm and confident is easier when you’re prepared. It’s also critical to be open and honest about who you are and what you’ve accomplished. If you stick to what’s true, you’ll be more compelling – and appealing. 


  • Make an interview appointment with one of the colleges I want to attend. 
  • Mark the date and time on my calendar. 
  • Research the college by checking out its website, brochure and course catalog. 
  • Make notes about why I want to attend this college. 
  • Make notes about my academic background and high school experiences.
  • Make notes about my life outside the classroom, including activities, community serrvice and hobbies. 
  • Get familiar with common interview questions and do some practice interviews with a friend or family member. Take turns being the interviewee and the interviewer. 
  • Prepare questions about the school to ask the interviewer. 
  • Get directions to the interview. 
  • Choose appropriate clothes to wear for the interview. 
  • Gather documents I might need, such as test scores and my high school transcript. 


  • Make notes about the interview.
  • File away any business cards with contact information that the interviewer and other admission staff offer. 
  • Send a thank-you note to the interviewer. Thank the person for his or her time and refer to something specific we discussed. 

What If I Decline to Interview?

Here’s another instance where an interview (or, in this case, the absence thereof) can make a difference. If you decline an interview offer, it may reflect poorly on you or at the very least raise questions. (What made him decline it? Is he uninterested in our institution? Is there something he’s trying to hide?) If you are offered one and are interested in the school, I would advocate accepting it unless you have a compelling reason to decline. 

Should I still Interview even if it is Optional?

Absolutely! Interviewing is an excellent approach to display genuine interest. Schools are measuring which candidates are likely to matriculate (accept an offer of admission) more and more these days, and while an interview is a positive indicator of interest, simply showing up for an interview can get demonstrated interest points. 

In addition, interviewing tends to make people like you. “I like a student more after I’ve met them than after I’ve merely read their application,” Monica says, “even if (especially if!) he or she isn’t the most excellent student on paper.” 

7 College Interview Questions (With Sample Answers and Tips)

Below are the most tested and common college interview questions that will get you ready for that admission you always wanted. 

1. “Do you plan to participate in academic activities outside of class?”

This question can serve as a way to assess your interest, motivation and dedication to your college campus. If there are projects, research papers or other academic pursuits you are interested in outside of class, share that in your answer. 

Example: “I am familiar with the academic clubs and opportunities your school offers outside of class, and I’m very interested in getting involved with a political research project. I would even be happy to start a project with other interested classmates.” 

2. “What skills do you hope to develop in college?”

The interviewer may ask this question as a way to address your awareness of your skill level. Answer honestly with skill sets that you feel you can improve while attending college. 

Example: “I feel that my writing and communication skills can be improved. I plan to use my class time to work on developing my skills in this area. I feel that improving these skills will help me become a better writer and public speaker.” 

3. “Will you seek financial aid?”

If the interviewer asks this question, it is most likely to assess which financial aid programs, grants or scholarships may be options for you. If you plan to seek financial aid, let them know in your answer what steps you have already taken to address the costs of college. 

Example: “I was awarded several scholarships during high school, and I will be seeking additional qualifying grants.” 

4. “What are your plans after you graduate college?”

If you are still considering what to major in, you may not have an exact answer for this. However, if you have certain career interests, travel plans or other development goals, share them in your answer. 

Example: “I don’t have an exact plan for after graduation, however, I do plan to pursue my career in political science. I hope that by moving into this career field, I can also travel to some parts of the world that I’ve been wanting to see.” 

5. “How will you contribute to the college community?”

During your college interview, the interviewer might ask you this question as a way to gauge your involvement and commitment to the school. If there are sports, clubs or other types of extracurricular activities you are interested in, you can explain that to the interviewer. 

Example: “I was very involved with my high school political science club. Since I will be majoring in political science, I hope to join the club here, too, so I can continue developing my skills in that subject.” 

6. “Why are you interested in pursuing your major in our institution?”

College students may enter their educational programs with no idea of what they will study. The interviewer most likely wants to know you at least have a plan for your college career. Answer honestly with your reasons for choosing your major. If you have yet to narrow down your choices, you might discuss two or three majors that highly interest you and your reasons for choosing them. 

Example: “I am interested in a career in political science because I feel like my generation should be involved with the development of our nation. I also feel that my generation has an equal responsibility to contribute to our nation and I hope by studying political science that I can inspire more young people to take part in our country’s governmental processes.” 

7. “What skills do you expect to develop through your program?”

You might be asked this question to assess your awareness of your academic weaknesses and how you plan to develop or improve your various academic skills. Keep your answer honest and include one or two main skills you would like to develop. 

Example: “In high school, my research writing wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, and I continue to build my writing skills in this area. I hope that through my educational program I can further develop this skill to become an efficient researcher and writer.” 

More In-depth questions  

You may also be asked some more in-depth questions about your plans during your college career or if you have any goals. Examples include:

1. Why are you interested in pursuing your major?

2. What skills do you expect to develop through your degree program?

3. Do you plan to continue your education?

4. What career fields interest you?

5. Will you seek financial aid?

6. What are your plans after you graduate college?

7. Where do you hope to be career-wise in 10 years?

8. What are some academic goals you hope to accomplish in college?

9. What skills do you hope to develop in college?

10. Do you plan to participate in activities outside of class? 


What happens at a college interview? 

They might ask in-depth about your hobbies, maybe something you mentioned in your essay, or your experiences while in high school.  

What is the purpose of a college interview? 

A college interview provides a college with an opportunity to give you more information about the school and answer any questions. 

Can a college interview hurt you? 

Use your questions as a springboard to get your interviewer to tell you more about the college you are applying to and to talk about their experience and reflections. 

When should you do a college interview? 

Most college interviews are conducted in the fall of your senior year, but you can schedule some as early as the summer before senior year and as late as February of senior year—sometimes even later. 

Do college interviews really matter? 

An interview may improve your chances of admission by demonstrating your interest in the college and revealing the personality behind your application. 


While some schools (Washington University, for example) allow students to register for an interview when they arrange a campus visit, the interview is usually triggered after the application is submitted. 

Students normally sign up for an on-campus interview through a portal if one is offered. Some schools (such as North Western) conduct regional interviews, in which case the student will be notified that the interviews will be held, but he or she must then sign up.

(Side note: Don’t worry out if your friends have heard about interviews for a particular school but you haven’t.)

It’s never a bad idea to give the admissions office or your regional representative a call or send an email. Simply state that you’ve submitted your application, that you’re from [wherever you’re from], and that you’re interested in an interview.) 

Pro Tips for Being Ready: Do confirm your interviewer’s phone number and yours prior to the interview. Aim to arrive at the venue 15 minutes early. This allows you to grab a table (and a hot beverage) if you’re in a coffee shop. 




Ajah Excel is a team growth and performance expert with over nine years of experience in blogging and personal development.
He leads a team of 36 crazy, restless innovators with an enviable work culture at Silicon Africa Technologies Limited – a fast-rising tech firm from the SouthEast.
Excel is the founder of and WriterGig.
He is also the co-organizer of TEDx Ikenegbu and convener of Social Media Fest.
He is a vibrant learner who yearns to share his knowledge to educate and inspire young Africans.
He has a B.Tech in Information Management Technology with certifications in growth hacking, effective communication, leadership, team, and personal development, to mention a few.
Ajah Anayochukwu Excel is a passionate public speaker, creative writer, and brand storyteller.

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