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College Interviews

Dear juniors and parents:

What a beautiful spring to visit colleges! We hope you are enjoying your explorations of campuses near and far. As you choose colleges to visit and refine your college list, one area that often seems confusing for parents and students is the college interview. Which colleges should you interview at?  When should the interviews take place?

Interviews can be held on-campus or with a regional alumni interviewer in your community. Colleges are reducing the availability of on-campus interviews, due to the increased numbers of students applying, the lack of available staff, and the desire not to disadvantage students who cannot afford the travel. Alumni interviews are an excellent alternative. Take advantage of all opportunities because interviews are a critical way to demonstrate interest in your colleges.
On-Campus Interviews
Students should research the policy of each college on their website to find out whether they offer on-site interviews and how you can register. Schedule and participate in interviews for your most preferred colleges, as well as the colleges that are located close by. 
Alumni Interviews
Nearly all colleges offer alumni interviews, and they are triggered when the student submits their application, so students do not need to undertake any action at this point. The regional admissions officer will contact the student either by email or phone call to schedule the interview.  The interviews typically occur in public places, such as Starbucks or the local library, but occasionally occur by telephone or Skype. Some colleges, like MIT, have a cut-off application submission date for receiving alumni interviews.  

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you check all your colleges' interview policies online.

Feel free to schedule a mock interview appointment before your first scheduled college interview. Be prepared to answer specific questions about yourself and the college, and you will receive extensive feedback about your interviewing skills. 

I am happy to answer any questions that you have about college interviews!

Best regards, 
Julie Raynor Gross
President & Founder
Collegiate Gateway LLC

College Interview Tips: 

  • Do comprehensive research about each school you visit. 
  • Dress neatly, comfortably, and professionally. 
  • Prepare a succinct way of describing the features of each particular college that are a good fit for you. 
  • Reveal your personality, family background, interests, passions – your unique self. 
  • Describe specific highlights of your high school experiences. Provide examples, anecdotes, and illustrations. 
  • Own your transcript. Think about what you have learned through your academic successes and failures, how they have influenced the student you are now.
  • Be an active participant in your interview. Demonstrate your listening skills, flexibility, and knowledge. 
  • Treat everyone you meet during the interview and application process with respect.
Before the interview:
  • Read the school’s website thoroughly.
  • Speak to students who are currently attending the school, if possible.
  • Arrange practice interviews.
During the interview:
  • Be your BEST self!
  • Try to use your interviewer’s name at the beginning and end of the interview.
  • Think before you speak. It’s fine to pause.
  • Use your powers of observation. Do your interviewers look bored or interested? Assess whether you should speak more or less.
  • Be ready with questions about each school that reflect your personal goals and interests. Questions about the college's curriculum, student services, faculty, and local community are all appropriate.
After the interview:
  • Take some notes immediately following the meeting. Note the names and positions of your interviewers. Take a business card, if possible.
  • Reflect on what happened. Remember what you did well and learn from your mistakes. Take this knowledge with you to your next interview.
  • Email a thank-you note to all who interviewed you. Be concise and professional. Include a specific reference to topic(s) discussed during your meeting.

Sample College Interview Questions: 

1. Which courses have interested you the most and why?
2. What extracurricular activities have you enjoyed the most and why?
3. Which activities would you like to continue in college?
4. What do you do to relax?
5. Tell me about your family.
6. What achievement are you the most proud of?
7. Who have been the most important influences on you – your thinking, interests, values?
8. Why do you want to go to college?
9. What attracts you to this particular college? What aspects of this college are most important to you?
10. What strengths would you bring to this particular college?
11. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
12. Can you tell me about a book you have read that made a strong impression on you, and why?
13. Can you tell me about a movie you have seen that you especially enjoyed, and why?
14. What world issue do you think is the most important to address, and why?
15. How have you spent your summers?
16. How would your friends describe you?
17. How would your teachers describe you?
18. Do you have any additional information to share that we have not covered?
19. Do you have any questions about this college?
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