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Five Common College Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

Prepare for your college admissions interview with these common admissions interview questions answers!

Kathryn Knight Randolph

July 29, 2021

A college interview is more like a conversation than an interview; get ideas for answers.
Five Common College Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
The college admissions process is comprised of a myriad of phases and must-do tasks. There is the application, test scores, and college essay, just to name a few. But there is also one major component that often gets overlooked or forgotten: the college interview. Hearing about the “college interview” may do one of three things to you: stir excitement, cause panic, or both. However, the college interview isn’t actually an interview at all. It’s simply a conversation. Yes, the admissions officer will ask questions, but it’s only to get a sense of who you are and why you want to attend their particular institution. Coming up with a few “answers” beforehand will help you better articulate your talking points and opinions as well as ease any anxiety you may have.

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Below are a few of the questions you may be asked, along with some helpful ideas to get you started on crafting your answers.
  1. Why Do You Want to Attend this School?

    This question isn’t meant to test you. Rather, your interviewer wants to know why you like their institution, why you think it’s a good fit for you. For that reason, you need to know about the school. You need to know which academic offerings appeal to you, which extracurricular activities are enticing, and what you picture your experience to be at that school.

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    Though it is important to talk about yourself, it’s also essential that you know the school.
  2. What book have you read in the last year that has special meaning to you and why?

    This is a fun question! You don’t have to think of the most award-winning, noteworthy book for this answer. It can be something that you read throughout middle or high school that especially moved you, or it can be something you’ve read in your free time. If you aren’t an avid reader, what piece of work does move you? Was it a film or documentary? A podcast? A news article?

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    In just one sentence: What scares you most about the college admission process?

    Use this opportunity to share something about yourself. Talk about why that piece of work had special meaning for you, and try to reveal your interests and personality in the process.
  3. How will you contribute to this campus?

    It may not be posed to you in exactly that matter. The interviewer may ask, “How will you be a valuable addition to the college? In what ways have you contributed to your high school?” This question can, no doubt, be overwhelming. You may be thinking, “How can I possibly contribute to a new school or a campus this size?” The important thing to realize is that you bring something to the table, academically, socially, and civically. You can use this question to talk about the impact you made within your high school or local community – and also where you may see yourself once you’re on campus.
  4. What are your academic interests?

    What do colleges want most from applicants? A passion and willingness to learn. You don’t have to know what you’ll major in, but you need to be able to explain your academic interests, why they interest you, and how you can pursue those interests at their college. With that in mind, look at their academic course offerings as well as majors. If you have dreams about studying abroad, do a quick search about which countries and international universities they have connections with in order to discuss that pursuit too.
  5. Do you have any questions?

    Even if you don’t hear any of the above questions, this one will undoubtedly be asked. So you need to be prepared. Asking your interviewer questions shows them that you’ve spent time thinking about their school, and it’s more than okay to bring a list of questions you wrote beforehand. Ask the right sort of questions. Don’t ask something that can easily be found on the school’s website. Show you’ve done some research. Ask questions that relate to your interests, not just general questions. You also don’t want to ask a question that will put their school in a negative light. Avoid asking questions that are “yes” or “no” answers like, “Are research opportunities available to freshmen?” Instead, ask a more open-ended question like, “How can a freshman get involved in research?” Remember, this is a conversation, not an interview. Relax and act like yourself. It’s important to anticipate what questions you’ll be asked and prepare answers. Also, do your research to determine if one of the institutions to which you are applying may be your home for the next four years.

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