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The college Interview: Questions and Answers

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

Hey there, you're back! Can't get enough? (I mean what can I say, I'm awesome, I suppose.). Well, then let's get down to business with some of the most frequently asked questions that the College Interviewer may ask, why they ask it, and how you should answer. If you have no idea what's going on right now and in general, I highly suggest that you read "How to Prepare for the College Interview Part 1" first. Like right now. Like right right now. Why are you still here?!? Shoo!

Ok - for those who did do their homework (or are just coming back): welcome. Give yourself a gold star. For the next section, I'm going to have our college counselor Dr. Melinda Blackman dole out her savvy advice because she's an expert and stuff (not only did she get her undergraduate degree at Stanford University, but she also sits on the Graduate Admissions Advisory Board at Cal State Fullerton).

Wait! Before I go, I forgot to mention something super important. Remember that little thing I said in the last blog post about being humble? Yah, well don't ever listen to me. I want you to take my cherished advice, crush it into a little ball (like all of my dreams) and chuck it out the window. Yes, I did say chuck.

I've been thinking. I don't want you humble. I want you proud. And confident. Like Beyonce confident (Single ladies version. Same goes for you men out there, because if Justin Timberlake can do it, so can you.) Because let's get real here, you want to impress the interviewer, and you can't do that by being totally humble at all times. Find that balance between putting yourself and your accomplishments out there without being full of yourself: Strut your stuff - just don't be a jerk about it.

So here we go... Dr. Melinda Blackman, everybody! *audience cheers*


Question: Brown, Baylor, Wake Forest, and Princeton all have one thing in common -what is it? 

Answer: Each of these universities incorporate an interview into their admissions process. 

Having an interview as part of the admissions process is becoming more commonplace as platforms such as Skype and Zoom become available to students and interviewers alike. Over fifty universities nationwide either require or highly encourage students to partake in their university’s interview process.

There are several interview venues that the universities offer. For instance, a student applying to a specialized discipline such as a BS/MD program might be asked to interview at the university with a faculty member, while other colleges might rely on trained alumni to conduct off-campus interviews in their geographic zone. 

Rarely will an interview make or break a candidate, though it is important to put your best foot forward during the process. Here are some of the steps to prepare you for your college interview. 


Possible Questions

Questions about your fit with a college

Interviewers may ask questions like these:

Why do you want to attend our college?
What can you contribute to our college campus?

Why they ask: They want to know that you're really interested in their college. They also want to know what you can bring to the campus.

Your answer strategy: college-fit questions

Talk about what you've learned about the college and why you feel it's the right place for you (remember that you have to research a college ahead of time to answer this type of question well). Discuss your extracurricular activities and achievements that show your character.

Questions about your personality

Interviewers may ask questions like these:

What three adjectives best describe you? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Why they ask: They want to see that you can think and speak about yourself.

Your answer strategy: personality questions

Give examples of how your chosen adjectives describe you. Talk about how you've used your strengths to accomplish something. Talk about how you overcome your weaknesses. For example, you can say, "I have a hard time learning new languages, so I set aside more time to study them."

Questions about activities, interests, and goals

Interviewers may ask questions like these:

What activities do you find most rewarding? What is your favorite book? What do you want to do after graduating from college?

Why they ask: They want to get to know you better and learn about what's important to you.

Your answer strategy: interests questions

Think about the why: Why are those activities the most rewarding? Why is a book your favorite? If you have a major in mind, talk about why you're interested in that subject. Discuss how you think college can help you meet your goals. Be sincere and honest in your answer — don't say things just to impress the interviewer.

Wide-ranging questions

Interviewers may ask some broader questions. For example:

If you had a thousand dollars to give away, what would you do with it? What's your opinion on the immigration debate (or another topic in the news)? If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?

Why they ask: They want to see that you are informed and curious and a careful thinker.

Your answer strategy: broader questions

Stay up-to-date on news and current events. Do you have strong opinions on certain issues? Can you explain your position? Try to spell out your system of values to yourself and think about how you apply it.


More College Interview Tips

Have a conversation. Don't try to memorize a script.

Ask questions. Do express your interest in the college.

Be yourself. Don't try to answer questions based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear.

Prepare. Do practice interviews with friends or family. Take turns asking questions.

Also look at:


What to Do the Day Of

Arrive a half-hour early to the interview. Bring a copy of your resume, a pad of paper (with your questions written out), and a pen/pencil.

Dress appropriately: Dress slacks and collared shirts for men and professional skirts, dresses or slacks for women. Even if it is a phone interview and you are just at home, research has shown that you will feel more professional and get into the interview mindset much better if you dress the part. If meeting in person, greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and eye contact addressing them by their name (e.g. Mr./Dr. Smith). Smile!

Be aware of your body language: Make sure to sit up straight and try not to fidget with your hands or feet during the interview.

Be prepared to give a 2-minute elevator speech about yourself when they ask you “Tell me about yourself.” Don’t be afraid of sharing your accomplishments, but stray away from bragging. Be prepared to tell the interviewer why their college is a good fit for your educational goals. Also, be ready to share what unique contribution you can make to their college if admitted. 

At the conclusion of the interview, again give the interviewer a firm handshake and thank him/her for their time. 

If you have the interviewer’s email address, send a follow-up thank-you note. 



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