3 tips for a successful college interview

college admissions interview prep

So, you’ve completed your essays, sent in all of your test scores, gathered all of your letters of recommendation and clicked the “submit” button on your application. Now it seems that all you have to do is sit back and wait for a decision letter from the college you just applied to. But hold on! A few days later you check your email and spot a message requesting to schedule an interview. What is that all about? 

Some colleges, particularly Ivy League universities, use interviews in their selection process to get to know their applicants a bit better as a person and to see if they will be a good fit for the school. The interview is your opportunity to show them who you are outside of your application.

Here are a few tips to help you put your best foot forward in your interview:

1. Research the School

Even if you haven’t had the chance to visit the campus yet, try to get a feel for what the school is like and if you can imagine yourself being a student there. What kinds of classes would you be interested in taking? What extracurriculars might you want to participate in? It’s difficult to know if you and the school will make a good fit if you don’t know about it! So try to find at least two things about the college that really capture your attention, make you want to attend, and that you’d like to talk about with your interviewer. 

2. Remember Your Strengths

Take some time to think about your strengths, talents, and passions. What do you like to do? What are you good at? What do you care about? This is your opportunity either talk in more detail about the strengths you already mentioned, or you might even bring up other strengths you might have that you couldn’t fit into your application. More importantly, in your conversation, connect these talents to the college you’re interviewing for. For example, if you have experience babysitting or tutoring kids, you might mention that you’d could see yourself joining that college’s chapter of America Reads. 

3. Show Curiosity

Ask your interviewer some questions about the school. Showing curiosity shows that you’re interested and would like to be part of the campus community. Usually, colleges tend to ask alums to conduct these interviews so not will this help keep conversation flowing, but you also might get some unique insight about the school you might attend soon! You might ask them things like: What study abroad experiences are offered here? What kinds of activities do students do on campus when they’re not in class? Where was your favorite place to eat on campus when you were a student? 

Most importantly, your interview is a chance for you to have a genuine conversation.

You are the expert of your own experience and know what your talents and passions are. Take a deep breath and show your interviewer who you are!

Danielle majored in English modified with African and African American Studies at Dartmouth College, where she graduated cum laude with high honors. She is currently a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago.

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