The College Admissions Interview

As you plan to visit college campuses, most likely your admissions counselor will ask you to set aside some time for an interview. You should plan to attend an admissions interview for every college and university that you hope will send you an acceptance letter, even if you think your acceptance is in the bag.

During the interview, your admissions counselor will look over your application, high school transcripts, and SAT scores (bring a copy of your transcript and SAT scores with you, just in case — if nothing else, you'll look prepared and organized). Your counselor will ask you some routine questions, such as what attracts you to the school, what you hope to study, what your favorite class is, and how you plan to contribute to campus society. Think about what kind of questions you'll probably be asked and have a rough idea how you'll answer each of them.

Even if the interview is not a formal part of the application process, you want to impress the admissions office. Here are some tips to help you ace the admissions interview:

  • Arrive 10 minutes early for your appointment.

  • Dress nicely. You probably don't need to wear a suit to most college interviews — although there are exceptions — but shorts and flip flops aren't acceptable, even if you're interviewing at the University of Miami.

  • Be respectful. Treat everyone you see in the admissions office — from the counselors to the receptionists to the janitor — with courtesy. Greet your admissions counselor formally (title and last name).

  • Watch your mannerisms during the interview. Don't slouch. Don't look bored or uninterested. Don't chew on your pen cap or play with your hair.

  • Don't be overconfident. Do not give the impression that you have no doubt that the school will accept you or that you're too good for the school. Don't tell the admissions office that there are two other colleges you'd rather attend.

  • Although this should go without saying, turn your cell phone off.

After your interviewer asks you some questions, you'll also have a chance to ask questions of your own. Try to think of specific, creative questions that prove your interest. For example, instead of asking, "Do you have a journalism program?" try something like this: "My goal is to become a sports photographer, what are the classes in your journalism program that should be of the most interest to me?" Be enthusiastic, but also be yourself.

After the interview (within 7 days), don't forget to send a thank-you note to your admissions counselor and anyone who interviewed you. Consider this practice for the job interviews you'll have after college. It's really just a formality, but it is expected.