What are some tips for acing the college interview?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

What are some tips for acing the college interview?

Cat McManus
Assistant Dean of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

What are some tips for acing the college interview?

Here is my video response to the question.

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

What are some tips for acing the college interview?

Here is my video response to the question.

Lily Trayes
Founder and CEO Ivy League Placement

What are some tips for acing the college interview?

Here is my video response to the question.

Jenny Rickard
Chief Enrollment Officer Bryn Mawr

What are some tips for acing the college interview?

Here is my video response to the question.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens


First -- relax. Take a deep breath, and try to be the best version of yourself. Don't try to be someone that you're not or try to be someone you think will impress your interviewer. Just be yourself. Second -- get to the interview five minutes early and bring a book. If you are on time, you are late. Third -- show respect for the school and interviewer's time by researching the school and asking thoughtful questions. Be sure to ask the interviewer (especially if he or she is an alum) about his or her experiences at the school!

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

The importance of the college admissions interview and how to ace it

So you've been asked to interview at the college of your dreams? Great. Or is it? A college interview offers applicants an opportunity to personalize the application. Meeting in person and wowing an admissions officer with a compelling personality will prove that the applicant will add a positive dynamic to the campus. Proof of how a student will participate in class, interact with classmates and forge ahead with new ideas for on-campus organizations may qualify a student for admission much more than a test score or GPA. During the college interview the applicant learns more about the school in addition to putting a name to a face. An interview – in most cases – will “seal the deal”. Of course, sometimes this can be for the better and others it is for the worse. College interviews vary as greatly as colleges do, and the particulars might find you interviewing with an admissions officer, a current student, or an alumnus. Sometimes schools have very informal interviews that resemble group information sessions with a question and answer session afterwards. Even individual interviews can be “informational” or “evaluative”. The latter are the ones that count in the admissions process. No matter what, during an interview the applicant must serve as their own best advocate. If you do not adequately represent yourself, then who will? Following are a few tips to remember during an interview: Be yourself. The is the most important advice in the entire admissions process. Do not memorize a speech that you think people might "want to hear” - make yourself appealing and not robot-like. Remember to stay professional, but not stiff. Know the school. Study the information about the school. Make sure you know that the school has an MBA program before you ask the dean of admissions how about the competitiveness of the MBA program. This benefits you in two ways: you learn about the college and you can ask informed questions during the interview. Review your application materials. Make sure that if you wrote about learning how to ride a horse in your application essay, that you actually do know how to ride a horse in case the person you are interviewing with happens to be a big equestrian. Be prepared to answer and ask questions. Be sure to prepare for questions that identify key topics or experiences that are important to you. Consider some of your favorite experiences, activities or plans. If you've identified your own "hit list," you'll easily recall them when asked. In addition, use your "hit list" to ask the interviewer questions about the campus, classes, and their experiences at the school. This makes the interview a learning experience for you, shows that you are interested in learning more about the school, and sets the tone for a conversation rather than a question and answer session. Set yourself up for success. Prepare yourself just as you would for a job interview: dress properly, do not use excessive slang or profanity, hold yourself with dignity and never be late! Follow up. As the interview concludes, firmly shake interviewer’s hand and thank them for their time. Mail a follow up thank you card and include an anecdote that will remind the interviewer about you. This small gesture can set you apart.

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Be prepared!

Do your homework before the interview and be fully ready to answer that key question- WHY you want to attend College ABC. It might be a good idea to take a campus tour, before your interview, so that you can be very enthusiastic about their amazing new-library, science center, student center etc. Go on their website and be sure that they do indeed have the programs that you want. It might be embarrassing to tell an admissions officer that you want to attend their school because of their fine business program, when they do not offer Business! Dress as if you value the interview and your interviewer's time. No cell phones, baseball caps or gum-chewing. Do shake his/her hand, make eye contact and be sure to pick up their business card so that you can send them a thank-you note!

Susan Weber


Probably the best way you can be sure to keep things moving positively at your interview is to have prepared a few questions in advance. Take the time to perform detailed research about the school and its majors, clubs, etc. so that you can ask something based on your interests and accomplishments rather than a question addressed on the college's home page.

Phil Kerlee
Owner Kerlee & Associates

Be Prepared

I spent several years interviewing prospective students for MIT, and the one problem that consistently came out was the students not being ready to answer questions about themselves and their activities. Be sure you have a copy of your resume, transcript and test scores. Be prepared to address any weaknesses in your transcript, and more importantly, elaborate on your strengths. Activities are important. Not only what you did, but why you did it, and what you gained from it. Interviewers are looking for passion and curiosity. Know the school. Have a few questions ready for the interviewer. Show them you cared enough to do some basic research about the school, and how you would fit in. In general, interviewers are looking for reasons to say yes. This is often the only opportunity they have to put a face to the pile of grades, test scores, essays and recommendations that is dyour application file. Show them you are an interesting and engaging person.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

An A+ Interview

Please be prepared for the interview. It isn't hard to find lists of potential questions. While answers shouldn't sound memorized, practicing is highly recommended. This includes having a few questions for them, requiring answers not easily found elsewhere. Show up on time, dress in business casual attire, use a firm handshake, make eye contact, and send a thank you note afterward. Try to remember that this is an opportunity to put a face on your application. Use this time to cover points not found on the papers in your file.