17 Important College Interview Questions

Jul 24, 2021

The college interview gives students a chance to make a superb first impression with an admissions counselor or professor— and can be a crucial part of the admissions process. 

The interview is a part of the college’s evaluating process, which gives the college another opportunity to assess and determine whether or not to offer you admission.

Generally, every university have a different style of the interview process, but there are a few similar questions that are likely to come up in whichever university you interview at

A must-know Introduction about College Interviews

At no cost, miss the opportunity of getting interviewed. It will be of great benefit to take advantage of a chance to question because it shows that you are genuinely interested in attending the school. And showing interest can hugely improve your chances of admission.

Try not to overthink the interview. As long as you are polite, aware, and prepared, it will be easy for you to get accepted. The talk will also give you insights into the school and consider whether it might be a good fit.

After going through the list of interview questions of more than 40 colleges, in this article, I will provide you with the 17 college interview questions you totally must prepare. Additionally, I will advise you on mentally preparing for your interviews to have enough confidence and clarity to crack them when the time comes. The interview helps them learn more about you, your hobbies, and how you will contribute to the school.

There are not many colleges that require interviews. However, a good number of colleges offer optional or recommended ones. These are some highly selective or small private colleges, such as Columbia, Bates, and John Hopkins. Large, well-known public universities do not offer interviews because there are simply too many applicants.

Interviews generally happen on-campus, with an admissions representative, or off-campus near where you reside, often with an alumnus of the college. College interviews are stressful; we have mentioned some tips to help you relax and bring you confidence. 

17 Most Important College Interview Questions

1) Tell me about yourself

For this question, you have to highlight your unique interests and how you have been involved in and out of the classroom. Make sure to tie your claim to the college; for instance, if you are a football player, describe a sports-based you would like to pursue.

It is essential to avoid topics unrelated to your education or extracurriculars that don’t inform the college about what kind of student you’ll be and how you’ll fit in. For example, you should steer clear of discussing relationships or friendships.

2) Three adjectives that describe you?

You have to come up with three adjectives; otherwise, you are not answering the question. Avoid generic ones like smart and leader and words you would not use in your daily conversation, such as effervescent. Play well and show them that you have an outstanding vocabulary without showing off. “Perseverant” is an excellent example of this.

3) Why are you interested in this college?

Talk about your interest in the academic program, the culture, the college’s history, and the college’s extracurricular activities. Be meticulous and specific. Avoid talking about prestige and rankings, and don't say you just want to go there because it's close to where you live; this does not show genuine interest in the specific college! 

4) What specific subject you want to major in?

Colleges are interested to know your academic goals in this question. Talk about why a particular subject inspires you or what you are excited to learn about it. Avoid saying that you are pursuing a specific major to earn a tremendous amount of money or live that particular industry’s lifestyle. It doesn't show genuine academic interest; it just makes you seem shallow. 

5) What are your strengths?

Colleges are interested to know your perspective on where you excel. You can brag about yourself a little; just try to avoid coming off as a showoff or fool. Avoid generic responses like you are intelligent and hardworking. Focus on your unique qualities–ones that make you a great student and leader. A kind of similar to the three-adjectives question

6) What are your weaknesses?

You do not have to be too honest here and avoid saying things like that you are lazy, and you cannot show up on time, etc. Instead, you can talk about a weakness you’re working on improving. Your honest response shows how you have overcome weaknesses, and you work hard to prevent them in the future.

For example, tell them how you were involved in many extracurricular activities in the past. Still, now you have the industry’s lifestyle currently, your prioritization is improving organization skills to tackle all your responsibilities.

7) If you could live in a historical phase other than this one, when would it be?

An excellent opportunity to show off your knowledge and creativity. Why is it crucial than what? In other words, it does not matter to the interviewer that the 1800s seem beautiful to you as to why they do.

For example, You can talk about the American System, the Second Great Awakening, and the War of 1812 and what changed you could have brought during such difficult times. You can also talk about the opportunities.

8) Who is your role model?

Your role model reveals a lot about your values, perspective, and what you aspire to be and do. You should choose a great personality who has influenced your goals and inspired many people. 

9) Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

Colleges want aspiring students. Here you can describe your objective beyond academic aspiration, but mention your career in your response as well. Be specific and tell them why you want to do certain things. And how you plan on impacting the world.

10) Things you like to do outside of school?

Your answer does not need to be limited to academics and extracurricular subjects only; instead, they tell about your personality through your activities. Avoid typical responses like hanging out with friends, partying in clubs, going on a long drive with friends and family.

Instead, tell them you like to read fiction, write short stories, play music or chess or football, part of an NGO, do plastic clean-up drives, things which show your nature, even if you do not do it daily. 

11) If given a chance, what would you change about your high school?

The interviewer is looking for your ability to spot problems and better understand what you are looking for in a school. By learning what you would change, they get to know what exactly matters to you.

Give a thoughtful response. Be detailed and respectful. Don’t say you will improve infrastructure and get better teaching staff. Say how you improve individual departments like sports so more students can have the opportunity to grow and learn.

12) One experience you particularly enjoyed in high school?

This question is asked to see whether you’ll fit in at the college. Focus on the story, present it uniquely and creatively—what was the experience, how did you approach it, why exactly you did, and what makes it memorable?

13) How are you unique?

This question at the college interview is another way of asking you what’s special about you. Each of us is unique and has events that have shaped us into who we are. So think this one through of how you project yourself as being different from others. Use incidents from your life to showcase your unique qualities.   

14) A book you have read recently?

Choose one with some literary novel if you select fiction. Avoid mentioning romance, chick-lit, comedy, horror, and other genre fiction. Describe the book well. Do not just name it. The interviewer would be impressed to know that you engage in reading and processing and presenting the information in a significant and engaging way.

15) Which other colleges have you applied to?

This question at the college interview can be awkward, but it’s best to respond honestly. Even if you have applied to a rival college, mention it without hesitation – who knows, they may find you even more enjoyable.

16) How did you overcome a significant challenge in your life? Describe

Colleges want students who have faced obstacles and kept on going ahead. This shows your character, telling them that you will be able to stand up and overcome challenges in the future.

You do not need to discuss some life-threatening incident (nevertheless, if you have a good time to explain); you can mention a challenging class, a personal challenge in sports, some biting incident in your family. Focus more on what you did to face the challenge than the incident itself while giving a summary of the incident so that the interviewer understands the context.

17) Do you need to ask any questions for me? 

Never say no to this question. This shows the interviewer that you are curious. If you can develop questions during the interview, which shows you were paying attention during the interview, or you can come prepared with a few questions to ask just in case.

Although college interviews might seem daunting, there are specific tips to help you ease up and be better prepared for it.

  • Be confident 

Have you heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it”? Apply this to your interviews, and everything will be fine. Appear confident, even if you don’t feel it. There are physical ways you can show your interviewer that you are optimistic. Sit up straight (don’t slouch), keep a soft smile on your face, don’t fidget (this is the most common type of cue for nervousness), and make eye contact (looking down shows you are nervous).

  • Be responsiveness 

Pay attention to what they are saying, smile if they are smiling at you, initiate a handshake if they don’t, and most importantly, try to ask a question about something they have mentioned before. This will show them that you are listening and paying attention. 

  • Be pleasant

Everyone in the room, including the interviewer, is nervous. You can ease this by creating a rapport with them and by diffusing the tension. Make appropriate jokes. The more you are at ease with the interviewer, the more they will like you. Always appear enthusiastic, ask them how they are and about their day.

  • Make conversation

Ask them something about their school, show interest in what they are talking about. If they mention a movie, expand on it or mention your favorite movie. Although your aim should be to make yourself likable, don’t pretend to like something you don’t like. There is a difference between being coy and sweet. Being dishonest will have the opposite effect. 

Following these basic steps will create a favorable impression and likable.

Non-verbals

 You may think what you say is very important, but the way you say it is even more critical. This is a visual world, so a lot of what you communicate is through gestures, posture, and facial expression. That smile you have on your face as you start the interview should be employed throughout the interview. You need to look at your interviewer with interest. Eyes narrow and widen indicate interest and that you are hearing. In other words, it’s okay to let your facial expressions show and help you tell about yourself.

Movement is also essential. You are not at attention, and stiffness can indicate a lack of personality, fear, or indifference. Think about keeping your arm movement within the zone of your torso and not letting your hands flutter. Another problem with the campaign is if it is repetitive or nervous. Crossing and uncrossing your legs is a problem. Using the same hand gesture over and over is like using a word too much. 

Aside from crossing your arms and slouching, other non-verbals to avoid are staring, scowling, narrowing your eyes, clenching your teeth, pointing your finger at the interviewer, slapping your knee, holding onto the edge of the chair, sitting in the edge of the chair, reaching into the interviewer’s space, chewing gum, or hanging your head.

The effect of non-verbals is to appear relaxed and friendly. You should also be open to the other person, indicated by eye contact, and leaning toward, not away from him or her.

Answering Questions

An interview is not a test: you are not simply providing answers to the interviewer’s questions. You are making conversation through questions. The discussion should flow and be reciprocated. It should be a two-way street, and not just the interviewer asking you the questions. Always give complete answers and try to avoid one-word responses. You can answer the interviewer’s questions and then make small talk about where they went to school. You can ask the interviewer what they studied and what interests them the most. Show them that you are comfortable making conversation with another adult.

Some Guidelines before you go for the interview

  • Research about the college. The interviewer will now notice if you do not know anything about the college.
  • Practice your answers to these common questions with a family member or a friend, and ask for feedback.
  • Arrive early. Try to get there 15-20 minutes early.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note or email. This is a good etiquette that demonstrates both that you’re polite and invested in the college.

Check out: Our detailed guide will describe what you need to keep in mind when you attend the college interview.

Finally, How to Answer Questions you did not Prepare?

Anyhow, how much you prepare, you will almost be asked a question you weren't expecting. There is no need to worry, though. Just try to give honest, specific answers with your current knowledge and understanding. 

As long as you are considerate and professional, you are ready to ace the interview.

Also, check out our “Ultimate Guide to College Interviews."

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