Does the college interview really count?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

Does the college interview really count?

Brian D. Crisp
Founder and President Crisp Consulting + Coaching; Burton College Tours

Count On It!

Interviews are becoming common in the landscape of college admissions. The question Crisp Consulting + Coaching often hears is “Do these interviews really matter?” The answer is yes but the weight of the interview varies with each school. The Ivy League and other highly-selective schools will offer interviews and consider these interviews to some extent in their admission decisions. Many schools are relying on interviews to better understand an applicant and to convey the positive aspects of their institution. As applicant pools are continually growing, smaller schools such as Carleton College, Haverford College and Wake Forest University strongly encourage the admission interview. These schools utilize the interview to determine the candidates strengths and interests in attending. Forgoing an interview could cost you the price of admission.

Marjorie Shaevitz
Admissions expert, author, speaker www.adMISSION

Interviews Can Make a Difference

Usually lasting between 15 minutes to an hour, a college admissions interview is a meeting between an admissions person and a prospective student. Usually there are three kinds of interviews: 1) the on-campus interview with an admissions representative, 2) an off-campus interview with a local alumnus or alumna, or 3) an online Skype interview with an admissions rep or alum. Very few colleges require interviews; some colleges recommend them. Still others offer them only to legacies (a son or daughter of a graduate of a college). Many colleges, in particular, large public universities and some private ones, don’t offer interviews at all. The truth is that it is very difficult to “blow” an interview. Unless you’re extremely shy and/or are completely unprepared, you only gain from having an admissions interview. Admissions interviews are not a “make or break” aspect of admissions. However, interviews with admissions people are potentially “worth more” than alumni interviews. If nothing else, you can learn about a college AND you might “click” with an interviewer, who then becomes your advocate during the final selection process.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Importance of the Interview

The college interview really counts if they say it does. Some schools make it a requirement for admission. Other colleges will make it optional (read: mandatory if at all possible for you). The interview is a chance to add another dimension to your application, to demonstrate interest, so grab the opportunity if it becomes available. There is also the difference between the evaluative and informative interview; make sure you know what one you've signed on for. Interviews can be conducted in person, phone, skype, with an admissions rep, alum, student; it just depends on the college.

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

It depends...

There are two types of college interviews... Evaluative interview...this one counts!! If you interview well, you are more likely to be accepting. If interviewing is not your strong suit, I would steer clear of the interview if it is optional. Informational interview ..this one is more for you to get to know the school better and will not effect your chances of being accepted. But, you still always want to put your best foot foward.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

The Interview: More Relic than Relevant

The importance of an interview depends upon the school and the type of interview. Alumni interviews are in reality more about alumni relations than admissions. They help keep the alums involved and feeling a part of things, but ultimately have little real impact on the application process. In contrast the interviews that are often a part of scholarship competitions can be critically important to those selection processes. Meanwhile, interviews with members of the admission staff either on campus or when they are visiting schools can be valuable, but they are sometimes aimed less at learning about the student than about giving the applicant a chance to learn more about the school. In the end, for a vareity of reason but primarily because of the vast increase in applications, the interview, which one played an important role in the admissions process, has pretty much been related to a side bar status.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Does the college interview really count?

It has been a pass/fail, make or break situation for years!

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

Does the college interview really count?

The answer is both "YES!" and "It depends." Soem schools will offer what are called "informational interviews" that are meant to serve as an opportunity for you to ask questions about the application process and the school in general. These types of interviews are not used by the admission staff to make decisions about applicants, but instead serve as an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the school. Schools that have required interviews or "strongly suggest" students interview will absolutely use the interview as part of their decision making process for applicants. The extent to which the interview is weighed in the decision making process varies from school to school.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

Does the college interview really count?


Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

Does the college interview really count?

It depends. Some schools have an interview that is strictly informative in nature and it generally does not count. Other schools have an evaluative interview and reports are submitted to the admissions office. However, regardless of the type of interview, you should be polite, dress appropriately, don't chew gum or check your cell phone during the interview and have questions about the school that show you've put a little thought into them. If you are rude, obnoxious or unprepared, it is entirely possible that an interview will have a negative impact on your admissions chances.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder

Does the college interview really count?

College interviews count in several ways. They all show your demonstrated interest in a college. For some campuses, interviews are evaluative--that means they count. The interview writes up a report that goes into your file and is considered by the admissions committee. Other colleges have informational interviews where you meet with a student or admissions rep but the interview is just to help you learn more about the college and does not count in the formal admissions process. No matter what, you can write about interviews in your college specific essays and even start email dialogues with people your interview directs you towards on the college campus. YES, they do count.