The Importance of College Admissions Interviews

Some colleges and universities will have interviews as part of their admissions process. Whether they’re required or recommended, college interviews are important. They shouldn’t be skipped, and students participating in them should always put their best foot forward. Here are some things you need to know about college admissions interviews and what you can expect if you’re called to one.

What are College Interviews?

College interviews are a meeting between a student and a representative of the school to determine whether or not the student is a good fit for the college. The representative could be an alumnus, from the admissions department, or someone else from the school. They may be central to a student gaining admission to the college in question.

Questions and topics can range from the student’s interests to their long-term career goals. At the moment, most schools that require interviews offer virtual meetings. College interviews may be required, recommended, or completely optional.

Are College Interviews Important?

College interviews are extremely important whether they’re considered required, recommended, or optional by the college. They’re often a chance for the school to identify the best students from their applicant pool and get to better know their applicants.

However, they’re not only important for the college, they’re important for the student, too. Students can use this time to ask questions they have about the school and identify if it’s the right college for them! The interview absolutely goes both ways.

College interviews give students a chance to shine, and schools will ask for more information about the individual’s passions, personality, strengths, weaknesses, goals, extracurriculars, volunteer work, and more.

For highly selective colleges, an interview can absolutely impact your admission chances. There are schools, too, that simply offer the interview for the student’s benefit, giving them the chance to ask questions, and these have little to no impact on admission.

Should You Attend a College Interview?

Yes! If you are offered to schedule a college interview, whether it’s required, recommended, or advised, you should generally schedule one. For schools that require the interview, skipping it could mean losing out on an acceptance letter.

For those that recommend or advise you to schedule an interview, it’s always a good idea to do it. Attending a college interview, even when they’re not required, can show initiative and serious interest in the school, giving students an edge over the competition. Colleges may also ask for an interview if they need to clarify some information in the student’s application.

Which Colleges Have Admissions Interviews?

Not all colleges and universities will have interviews as part of their admissions process. In fact, a majority of schools don’t. However, the most competitive colleges tend to have them.

All of the Ivy League schools have required or recommended interviews, for instance. Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale all recommend interviews from their applicants. Brown recommends students submit a video portfolio in lieu of an interview. Cornell requires them for Architecture majors, and recommends them for Fine Arts and Urban and Regional Studies majors.

Some other popular schools that require interviews include (but not limited to):

A few colleges that recommend or even strongly recommend admissions interviews are:

If you’re not sure whether or not your potential colleges require or recommend interviews, always reach out to the admissions office as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.

What Should Students Expect During College Interviews?

Every college’s interview process will be slightly different. Generally, though, students can expect:

  • Questions about themselves. Interviewers will ask the students about their passions, interests, interests in the school, goals, career aspirations, intended major, and other related subjects
  • A portfolio review (if applicable). For some schools, such as art colleges, interviewers may use this time to review portfolios with the student.
  • A chance to ask their own questions. Students will almost always have the chance to ask their own questions about the college and get some information that could help them make their own decision when acceptance letters come in the mail.

Tips for Acing Your College Admissions Interview

If you have a college interview on the horizon, it’s important to put your best foot forward at all times. To help ace yours, follow these tips:

1. Practice with Mock Interviews

One of the best things you can do for college admissions interviews is to practice. This is true for job interviews, too! By participating in mock interviews, you can get rid of any jitters and nerves while practicing your responses to the most commonly asked questions. You can ask a family member, friend, guidance counselor, or someone else you trust with these sessions.

Some quick advice for your mock interviews:

  • Take them seriously!
  • Don’t memorize your answers – the interviewer can tell
  • Try to get your practice partner to ask relevant questions you may actually see in the interview
  • Ask for feedback

2. Research the College’s Interview Process

Every college’s interview process is slightly different. Some schools may consider this a very important part of the admissions process, while others may be simply giving you the chance to ask your own questions. Research other students’ experiences to see what you can expect during the interview. This will help you prepare and also give you some information so you can better set up the mock interviews.

You will also want to know exactly how to sign up for the interview and how to attend one. Do you meet them on campus? Online? Your high school? Elsewhere?

3. Research the School

If you’re serious about this particular college, you don’t want to go into the interview not knowing basic information about the school! You should seem well educated on the college and be able to answer why you want to attend this school. What makes it unique? What about this school calls to you above all others? Research will help you answer these questions and others.

4. Come Up With Your Own Questions

Part of being prepared for a college interview is knowing what questions you will ask the interviewer. These shouldn’t be questions you can easily find the answer to online. Instead, they should be relevant to you and your own goals and interests. By taking the time to ask these questions, you show you’re engaged and interested in the school. You also show initiative.

Avoid asking inappropriate questions including ones about parties off campus even if you’re trying to lighten the mood. These should always be approached professionally.

5. And More

These other tips are also necessary if you want to have a standout interview!

  • Dress appropriately, even for a virtual interview
  • Always meet interview deadlines and ask if you’re unsure about requirements
  • For virtual interviews, choose a neutral background
  • Be on time
  • Make sure to prepare any necessary documents, including your portfolio, if relevant

College interviews can be extremely important to the admissions process, even when they’re considered optional. If given the opportunity to attend one, don’t skip it! It could have an impact on your application or even your desire to attend the school. It’s the school’s opportunity to get to know you better, and a chance for you to get to know the school better, too!

Are you interested in attending a highly selective college that requires an interview? It helps to find the school that matches your interests, needs, and goals. You can do that with College Match from College Raptor. Sign up for free here to get started!

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