Practice College Interview Questions
Prepare for your upcoming college interview by practicing your answers to common questions.
February 04, 2016
It’s a wonderful idea to practice before any interview. It gives you the advantage of thinking about what you’d like to say, how you’ll approach certain types of questions and help you to get into the interview mindset.
Additionally, as a high school student, you likely don’t have a ton of interview experience under your belt. This means that practicing is more vital than ever!
Keep in mind that there are two types of college interviews: informational and evaluative. The first, informational, is simply to learn more about the school. The second, evaluative, is to help a school determine whether a student is a good candidate to attend the college. These questions are to help you prepare for the second type of interview, an evaluative interview.
While these are helpful to preparing for your interview, it’s important to think about your answers without preparing any type of script. Your college interview should be more of a conversation.
Also included are what the question being asked is likely intended to help the interview discover and suggested ways you may want to think about when approaching the way to answer each type of question.
Take some time to run through these commonly asked college interview questions to help you prepare to conquer your college interview.
Questions about college and your interest in the school:
• Why do you want to attend our college?
Why they’re asking: They ask this looking to see that you are actually interested in attending their college.
Your approach: Discuss what you’ve learned about the college through tours, research and speaking to current students. Let them know how this research led you to feel it’s the right school for you.
• What have you done to prepare for college?
Why they’re asking: They would like to determine if you’ve been planning for college throughout high school.
Your approach: Discuss your achievements and accomplishments within high school, starting from your freshman year. Talk about your hard work and efforts as a student and why you continued these efforts all throughout your high school career.
Questions to get to know you, your background and your personality:
• What is your biggest strength? Greatest weakness?
Why they’re asking: They want to know if you can speak about yourself and, also, to determine how self-aware you seem to be.
Your approach: Remain confident and honest – tell the truth (as long as it’s appropriate).
• What three adjectives would a friend use to best describe you?
Why they’re asking: They’re looking to see if you can eloquently talk about yourself, even if it’s from someone else’s perspective.
Your approach: Be honest – but positive. Think: What would your greatest advocate say?
• Tell me about yourself.
Why they’re asking: Again, this question is asked to determine how well you can speak about yourself and your qualities.
Your approach: Try to pick about three things – don’t go on and on about yourself. Name three qualities, backed up with examples of how you’ve demonstrated them in daily life. For example, “I’m a disciplined student. I strictly schedule my time and plan out my weeks so that I’m able to stay organized and get everything accomplished.”
• Tell me about your interests.
Why they’re asking: This is pretty straightforward – they want to see what you’re interested in and what you’re like.
Your approach: Tell them about your interests – and mention any research you’ve done to determine that the school offers clubs or courses in these areas.
If no clubs are offered in one of your top interests, let them know that and inquire as to how a student would start a club for other students with the same interest. This will show them that you’ve research the school; you’re thinking about the future and are willing to take initiative to accomplish your goals, while contributing to life on campus.
• What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author?
Why they’re asking: Obviously, they would like to know that you read. However, this question also reflects your personality based on the author/genre you choose.
Your approach: This is a good question to note so you’re able to enter the interview with a book/author in mind. It’s also a good opportunity to let them understand your personality a little more and, potentially, find a common interest! You never know, they may love your favorite book or author, too.
• Tell me about your family.
Why they’re asking: They want to see what type of environment you grew up in and come from and what type of values you have.
Your approach: Tell them about your family, but try to speak positively and reflect that you find value in the relationships with your family. Unless that’s not the case and you’re in a unique situation, then you can talk about whatever happened and how you overcame adversity.
Questions about your high school experiences and accomplishments:
• Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of?
Why they’re asking: They want to see how you worked towards your goal and accomplished particular feats, keeping your strengths and weaknesses in mind.
Your approach: Within your answer, describe how you used your personal strengths (and overcame any weaknesses) to accomplish these particular goals. For example, “I have always struggled with math, so I knew I had to work harder in that subject. I focused more study time and even worked with a tutor. That’s why I’m so proud of my “A” in that course.”
• What has been your greatest experience in high school?
Why they’re asking: They’re looking to see what type of experiences you, as a student, find most valuable.
Your approach: Discuss what you determine to be your greatest experience. Discuss is the key word here – rather than just stating your experience, talk about how it came to be and why you choose that particular instance.
• Tell me about your involvement in extracurricular activities.
Why they’re asking: They want to know that you have interests outside of academics and that you’re a well-rounded student. They’re also looking to learn about what’s important to you as a student. They also want to determine whether or not you’d be active in student life at their school.
Your approach: Talk about all of your extracurricular activities, touching on how each helped you develop certain qualities or positive attributes. For example, “I really enjoy being on the volleyball team, because it has really strengthened my teamwork skills. I also enjoy the debate team because I get to express my opinions while respecting and valuing others’ opposing viewpoints in a positive environment.”
Questions about your goals and your future:
• What do you want to do in the future?
Why they’re asking: First, they want to know you’re thinking about your future. Secondly, they want to see if you’re thinking about a future at their school – and whether or not you’ve looked into their offered curriculum enough to determine if the school is strong in your desired pursuits.
Your approach: Talk about what your future goals are but, remember, you don’t have to be absolutely sure about one thing. Most students aren’t! Feel free to discuss interests you currently have and, even, interests that you’re looking forward to diving into in college. Also, it’s a good time to talk about your research of the school and how you feel that what they offer is a good fit to your particular interests. Let them the ways you feel the school can help you achieve your goals.
• What do you feel you can contribute to this campus?
Why they’re asking: Their goal is to ensure all prospective students bring something positive to the campus.
Your approach: Discuss your extracurricular activities and academic achievements in high school, tying in your strong student character. Talk about how you look forward to continuing these aspects at the particular college.
Questions that are thought-provoking
• If you could meet any important figure in the past or present, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Why they’re asking: They want to see if you’re a careful thinker and determine what types of conversations you find most valuable. They’re also looking to get to know your personality.
Your approach: Choose an important figure that’s an honest answer to the question. Let them know why you chose that particular figure and the relevance it holds to you. Try to think of well-thought out questions that dig deeper into a particular interest or event.
• If you could be any animal what would you be? Why?
Why they’re asking: This question is less about your preferred animals and more about characteristics and qualities certain animals are known to possess.
Your approach: While you should feel free to choose an animal you like, the focus here should be in choosing an animal that demonstrates the qualities you strive for in daily life. For example, “I’d be a dog because I admire their happy nature, positivity, resilience and loyalty.”
• What do you think about (insert a current event within the past week)?
Why they’re asking: They’re looking to see how aware you are of current events and how in-tune you are with the world around you. They also want to determine if you’re thinking about important world subjects, and how well informed you are.
Your approach: Tell them what you think about a particular event. While you should be honest, it’s probably best to avoid extreme opinions on controversial topics. (Take a stand if you feel a certain way; just express it in a politically correct manner.) Try to articulate your position and why you feel that way, spelling out how it may relate to your personal values.
This question also should remind you to brush up on current events before your interview so you’re not caught off-guard or asked about a topic you aren’t familiar with.
When It’s Your Turn to Ask Questions…
• Do you have any questions for me?
Why they’re asking: In addition to wanting to answer any questions you may have, interviewers also want to make sure you have them in the first place. Asking questions demonstrates you want to learn more, were engaged in the discussion and that you’d like to further understand aspects of the school. It also shows that you’re not only looking to impress the school, but that you’re also inquiring about it in order to ensure it’s the right fit for you, too.
Your approach: ASK! Your best approach here is to ask all of the questions you have. The most important thing is to ask questions – a lack of questions may cause an interviewer to wonder if you really care and if you are actually thinking about different aspects of the school. This is a good thing: asking questions will get you the answers you need and make you seem thoughtful and engaged, too!
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