Tips & Guidelines For College Admission Interviews

Mar 19, 2021

Know some important guidelines for college admission interviews

Things to remember to make a lasting impression at college admission interviews

After giving your best shot and sending the college applications you are perhaps now waiting with bated breath for a positive response from your favourite colleges. But this is not the time to feel you are done with the application process. Don’t for a minute think that you can take it easy through your last high school year.

A large number of universities, especially the private ones, request their admission staff or even alumni to represent them and meet their college applicants. They set up such meetings because they want to:

  • Assess the applicant
  • Give the applicant a chance to get to know the college better
  • Or because they want to make both these things happen

You will probably find this meeting or interview stressful since it is a significant component of your application procedure and a lot hangs on how you fare in this interview. We’ve listed below factors and some hints to clear any doubts you may have and to help you have an outstanding college admission interview every time.

You decide what the colleges should know about you and what you choose to learn about the colleges

There are a couple of reasons why colleges set up these interviews. It is either to conduct an official meeting to gauge the applicant or use the meeting to have a casual, easy-going conversation with the applicant and respond to any college-related queries like campus life, research possibilities, etc.

A Cornell University alumni who interviewed applicants states that his brief while interviewing applicants was to concentrate on checking if the applicant was suitable for the university and vice versa. While doing so, the applicant was given the opportunity to discuss anything that wasn’t mentioned in his application – for instance, a challenging life situation, an unusual aptitude, or a latter-day achievement.


Be polite and amicable at the interview to make a favorable impact at your interview. Use the opportunity to get to know the college better. You will find ample help online to advise you on general interview protocol – for instance, saying hello with a warm smile, giving a firm handshake, sitting erect and not slouching, maintaining eye contact while speaking, etc. Ensure that the interview is a discussion or conversation where the interviewer and you are exchanging notes and it doesn’t end up being a situation where the interviewer asks you questions that you reply to. There are methods to make this happen. They are:

1. Be explicit with your responses to illustrate your merits

For instance, if you are asked what you love doing most in your free time, don’t respond with a brief one-liner – ‘I love creating artworks’. Instead, be elaborate so that the interviewer has an idea of what goes into all the art you create. So an appropriate response can be ‘I love creating art and have been enthusiastic about it since I was nine years of age. Instead of sticking to one medium, I try out various media and styles of rendering too. After working with watercolors, I experimented with acrylic colors and then tried my hand at metal craft last year. Working with metal was a challenge but it has enhanced my creativity and it shows in my recent oil paintings.’

The one-liner response is just information that is dispensed to the interviewer while the second, more elaborate response conveys how much you love art and are enthusiastic and keen on your development rather than just pursuing a hobby. When you expand on your answer to showcase your merits, it’s like writing out your college essay well.

2. Be inquiring – you should ask questions too

Generally, applicants tend to wait until they are asked if they have any questions before they inquire about things that they want to know. Interviewers however, usually complete having their say and asking all they want to before they pose this query to the applicant.

If you wait for the interviewer to ask you if you have any questions, it will mean that during the entire interview, you have been answering questions posed by the interviewer. So from such a monotonous interaction, you will have to work really hard to ask questions that will leave a memorable impact.

However, when you strike a conversation with the interviewer, it will feel like the most normal thing to do and won’t be forgotten easily. It will be a constructive conversation where you will ask questions about the programs, campus life, the interviewers’ experience on the campus, etc. and the interviewer will ask you about yourself.

For instance, if the question is ‘Will you like studying at a college in a rural location even though you are city-bred?’ your response can be ‘I’m delighted at the prospect of relocating to a rural town. After living in the hub of all the hustle and bustle of a city, I’m looking forward to a chance to live a quieter life and bond with the local community. I believe like me, you also came here from Boston where you spent your growing years. Were there any major adjustments you had to make? I’d love to hear about it.’

When you respond so expansively, it will reflect your amiable nature, a sincere wish to know the interviewer’s experiences as well as your earnest intent to pursue your studies at that college.

Any person who is willing to offer his services to interview applicants at his alma mater will do so only when he has high regard for it and cherishes wonderful memories of his time spent there. When your interviewer shares his life at the college with you, it will help you make up your mind about studying there.

Be in readiness as much as possible

There is no set location where interviews are conducted. It differs from one college to another.

Generally, interviewers favor conducting the interview in an undisturbed place like an alumni club but a few others prefer to keep the meeting informal and conduct it at perhaps a coffee shop. For instance, Cornell University mostly recommends conducting the interview at such informal locations. It’s up to you how you feel at either of the locations.


You should be in readiness to deal with any circumstance. As a novice college applicant, you can’t predict all the possible questions that you’ll be asked at your college admissions interview. However, you can still do your utmost to plan and be prepared with your responses to some questions that you’ll be positively asked. There are two things that you can do to be more comfortable at your interview:

3. Be unworried about your interview location

If you are apprehensive about meeting your interviewer at a public place, you can resolve the problem by visiting that place prior to your interview to acquaint yourself with the place. Once you know the place, you will naturally feel comfortable and at ease and be able to concentrate on the actual interview.

4. Be well turned out for your interview

Whether your interview is at a coffee shop or an alumni club, go dressed like you would if it were an interview for a job. For males, a dress shirt and slacks are the best bet – you can do away with the tie if you don’t want to wear it. For females, a dress shirt or blouse and slacks or a skirt are apt. So you will be fittingly turned out whether the interview is at an informal or formal place.

Your admission interview starts prior to and ends after the meeting

The interviewer creates a mental picture of you even before he meets you and walks away with a lasting opinion after he has met you.


You should consider all communication prior to the interview and thereafter as an essential component of the interview process. Listed below are three routes through which you can create a favorable impact prior to the interview and subsequently:

5. Be quick and skillful in replying to the first email from the interviewer

Reply with eagerness and reflection within a day of receiving the email for an admission interview. By doing so you will demonstrate resourcefulness and good communication skills.

However, if you defer replying and revert after many days, the interviewer may think that you aren’t that keen about studying at that college.

Keep your emails formal and refrain from using slang. For instance, address the interviewer Mr./Ms. in your emails.

6. Be courteous and polite with all in the interview space

Demonstrate your social etiquette with the staff of the venue where you are being interviewed – whether it’s at the coffee shop or the alumni club. Your interviewer won’t forget easily your amiableness - that you were well mannered and courteous not just with him but with everybody around.

7. Send a post-interview note of thanks

You should email your interviewer for his time and patience in responding to all your queries because in doing so you will further demonstrate your seriousness and genuineness. Your email will also work as the last image of you he has before he puts down his evaluation of you.

Use the email as the opportune time to refer to something in particular about the meeting that you are thankful for. For instance, you can write ‘I’m really thankful for your counsel of restricting the number of programs I should pursue as a freshman so that I have ample time to do other things in my spare time.’

Some concluding views

The objective of a college admission interview differs from one college to another. This also applies to formality and where the interview is conducted. All of these factors play a key role in the application procedure.

Generally, the interviews work as an avenue for the college to gauge if you will be well suited for the college – culture-wise and with their programs. For you too, the interview gives you a chance to further strengthen the merits that you’ve mentioned in all your application documents. It will also give you the opportunity to rectify any lapse in your application and get to know about that college too.

The hints discussed in this topic will help you to be in readiness for your college admission interviews and then studying at the college where you see yourself doing well academically.


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