It’s important that interviews feel natural, and that your answers be organic and unrehearsed. Your interviewer is interested in learning about the real you, not in seeing how adequately you can anticipate interview questions. But some preparation is wise, and there are some types of questions that every student should be prepared to field. Here’s our list of common college interview questions, along with some tips on how best to answer them.
Tell us a little about yourself!
This is the most universally utilized interview question across the board, so come prepared for this one!
Give your interviewer a summary – no more than 60 seconds long – of who you are. What are your specific interests and talents? Why are you looking at this school in particular? Is there something that makes you stand out? Be excited to answer this question, and convey that excitement! And try your best not to say "ahhh" and "ummm". If you need to think, simply pause and stay silent.
What are you interested in studying?
Be prepared to talk not just about your potential choice of major, but about why you’re interested, and what contributions you can make to that specific department. Want to knock their socks off? Know the names of the department chair and some notable professors, and talk about their accomplishments. Doing your homework never fails to impress.
Who, or what, has influenced you?
What inspires you to succeed? Think about people and events that have moved you, and keep it personal. Your interviewer wants to hear about events and people in your life and to understand why they’re important to you.
What separates you from the pack?
Chances are, you’re competing for admission against some other very well qualified candidates. Anticipate being asked to distinguish yourself from them. What makes you special? Stay away from clichés – everyone works hard and is motivated to succeed, so you’ll want to talk about qualities beyond those you share with those other folks. Show off your personality in your answer!
What are you looking forward to?
This is a great question, and it helps to weed out the students who really understand what college is all about. Feel free to use this opportunity to talk about the intellectual freedom you’ll enjoy as a college student, and which elements of student life you’re most excited about. Be able to discuss the differences between high school and college.
What makes this school stand out to you?
This is your chance to show off how much you know about the campus, the academics – even the sports! Know some statistics, some names, and every element of the school’s history. Prove you’ve done your homework instead of just throwing your name into the hat at a handful of schools, and you’ll start to stand out from the pack.
What contributions have you made to your high school?
Discuss your academics, briefly. Then, talk about being a part of the social fabric of your school. Talk about your friends, teachers you’ve come to respect, the activities that have made you happy and helped you to mature. There are lots of ways to ask this question, but rest assured that it will come up. Your high school experience, after all, is the most important variable in the admissions process.
What do you enjoy in your free time?
This is a good opportunity to be honest. Into video games, fantasy football, or weekend backpacking trips? Talk about it with enthusiasm! Show that you’re passionate and involved in something outside of academics and school-related activities. It helps to demonstrate that you’re a real person rather than just a list of characteristics on paper, and remember – this is your only chance to accomplish just that!
This is just a sampling of questions you can expect in your interview, and every interviewer will do things differently. Remember to keep things relaxed and conversational, maintain eye contact, and answer the question you’re asked rather than meandering – consistency on those points alone will give you a tremendous advantage! Prepare, but know that you’ll never really be able to predict your interview questions – and that’s how it should be.