If you’re wondering how to rock your college interview, the first step is preparation. A college interview is an opportunity to stand out from the other applicants. When you meet an admissions counselor in person, think of it as a conversation that focuses on who you are as a unique student.

Try not to stress yourself out about the interview. Remember, it’s just one aspect of the college admissions process that will be taken into consideration.

Keep in Touch With the Admissions Counselor

Before your interview, start a conversation by email or a phone call with the admissions counselor. Schedule your interview as early as possible in the college admission process, and stay in contact. You’ll feel more comfortable once it's time for the interview if you've spoken with the admissions counselor beforehand.

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Most colleges have an online visit request form to make scheduling easier. If you’re among the first, you will qualify for an early decision or early action. If you create a personal connection, you’ll feel more comfortable, when you’re in a formal interview setting.

Research the College

Do your homework about the college. It’s likely that you have applied to several places and it’s easy to confuse similar facts.

Before you go for your interview, browse the website, take a virtual tour and read about the history of the college. Jot down some key points that you can include in your interview. Researching the college will also help you generate some questions to ask during the interview.

Engage in Self-Reflection

It’s important to know what you’re looking for in a college before you interview. Expect to be asked why you’re drawn to the college. In addition to academic interests, be ready to discuss how you hope to grow personally.

The admissions interviewer will expect to hear examples of how you’ve made a difference in your school and your community. Jump right in and demonstrate the high points of your curricular and extra-curricular involvement.

It may seem difficult to brag about yourself, but this is your chance to show why you’re an ideal fit for the college.

Be Your Authentic Self

Treat the interview as a fun conversation and allow yourself to open up and be honest about your hopes and dreams.

You may be wondering: "how long are college interviews?" You can expect to spend an hour with an admission counselor, but don’t read too much into the length of your interview. If you are finished in 30 minutes, chalk it up to your effective communication skills. Similarly, if the interview goes longer than an hour, it may be the result of a great conversation. In the end, be real and true to yourself.

Be sure to dress for success. You may be tempted to wear jeans and a sweatshirt, but it's best to come to the interview in business professional attire. A put together appearance and a great posture will make a great, confident first impression.

College Interview Questions to Ask

A college interview is a two-way street. The college is learning about you, but you’re also discovering if the academic environment is the best option for your interests. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn more about what you’ll gain from the college.

Your questions are a signal to the admission counselor that you’ve done your homework and that you’re going to be an engaged student. Here are some sample college interview questions to consider:

  • What kind of opportunities are there to work on research projects with professors?
  • What is your best piece of advice for first year students?
  • Is it possible to be involved as a student athlete/musician and other activities on campus?
  • How many of your students are placed in internships during their senior year?
  • What is your most popular club on campus?
  • What is the typical class size?
  • How many classes are taught by adjunct faculty or graduate assistants?
  • What sets this college apart from others of similar size and type?
  • What do students do on the weekends?
  • If there was one thing that you could change about this college, what would it be and why?

Follow-Up After the Interview

Be sure to ask for the business card of the admission counselor, before you leave. If a student gave you a tour, ask for their contact information too. Once you get home, write a thank you note or email to everyone that you met. It’s important to do this immediately to reinforce your interest in the school.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.