Interview with College Admissions: Questions They May Ask You

When visiting a college you’re interested in, it’s a good idea to schedule an interview with a college admissions officer. While it’s not mandatory, this option is highly recommended. Don’t let this intimidate you though. We’ve compiled a list of common college interview questions that an admissions officer might ask, and answers so you know what to expect. This will help you be better prepared.

But first, here’s why it’s a good idea to schedule an admissions officer interview.

Red and white signs with a black question mark in the middle.

Why Schedule an Admissions Officer Interview?

An admissions officer is the one who will assess your application and ultimately decide whether or not you get to attend their college. This interview will give you and the admissions officer to get to know each other better. The interaction and your answers will help them determine if you’re a good fit for their college. At the same time, you’ll get a better sense of whether the college is a good fit for you.

This scheduled interview is not a casual meeting. It is a formal interview, which means they’ll be asking you some tough questions about yourself. Preparing for the interview can help boost your self-confidence and make this first meeting easier for you.

How To Prepare for an Admissions Interview

Start by read through the admissions officer interview questions listed below. Knowing in advance what questions to expect gives you time to think about your responses. Very often at interviews, candidates struggle to answer the simplest questions. This is where knowing the questions can help.

As you think about your response to each question, write it down in a notebook. Writing down your answers helps you gather your thoughts and ideas and put them down in a powerful way. As you read through your written notes, you may decide to change the way you’ve said something. Or you may want to change the response completely. Reading through your notes is the best way to memorize your answers and ease your nerves on the day of the interview.

Mock interviews can also help. Ask a parent or friend to conduct a mock interview asking the admissions officer interview questions listed below.

Prepare well, and you shouldn’t have any major surprises when the day comes. With a little forethought, practice, and introspection, you can ace the interview and leave a positive impression with the interviewer.

Here are some of the most common college admission officer interview questions and answers.

Common College Interview Questions

Q: Why do you want to attend this college?

You’re obviously showing interest by attending a tour and scheduling an interview, but why? That’s the main thing the admissions officer wants to know. Why this school in particular? Don’t say “because my parents want me to” or “because my sibling also attended this school”. Those are not reasons enough to attend a school.

Instead, focus on the college itself and what it offers you. Does it have academic programs or maybe one particular program that you’re interested in? Maybe you’re an accomplished musician and are interested in playing for their renowned orchestra. Or maybe you’ve trained hard and think you can make their athletics team. In answer to this question, emphasize on what you can contribute to their school.

Q: What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

Here’s one of the rare opportunities where “I don’t know” is acceptable, provided you back it up with good reasons. Adding on “I hope to discover career opportunities while studying here” is much better than just shrugging. Of course, if you do have some idea what you’d like to do after graduation, that’s excellent as well. Go ahead and tell the admissions officer your future plans. They are sure to be impressed by the fact that you’ve thought ahead about your plans.

Q: What extracurricular activities were you involved with in high school?

Remember, admissions officers are much more interested in a small handful of things you were dedicated to for a long time, rather than being lightly involved in a bunch of different things. Tell them about the activities you really cared about –sports, student organizations, clubs, or any other. Don’t just list the activities. Tell them how you contributed or what you accomplished through them.

Q: What are your strengths?

Ah, the classic question. Hopefully, you already have three or four strengths in your pocket already. If not, take time to sit down and think of some. What are the things you excel at or qualities you possess? This is a sure-shot question so definitely give some thought to it.

Q: What are your weaknesses?

And the classic follow-up questions. Be honest here, of course, but there are always ways to spin this into a positive thing. For example: I can get frustrated with myself if I don’t pick up a new task/concept quickly, BUT it’s because I’m a perfectionist and like to do a quality job. Have two or three of these ready.

Q: Who is your biggest role model?

Whether it’s somebody you know in personal life or a public figure you admire, you have to have a couple of reasons as to why you look up to them. Is it their tireless hard work? What’s their passion? Their morality or ethical nature? How is their sense of humor?

Q: What subject challenged you the most in high school?

High school certainly wasn’t just a breeze. Some subjects had to give you a little bit of grief. College won’t be a breeze either, so the interview is really looking for how you met the challenge and overcame it.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show / movie / book?

This question might surprise you but finding out what sort of things you enjoy in your free time is actually an excellent way to discover what kind of person you are. Always supplement your answer with the whys.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Here’s your chance to brag a little bit. Show off your greatest accomplishment because you worked hard for it! Explain why it’s so important to you too, the admissions officer should be able to hear the pride in your voice.

Of course, not all of their questions will really come in the form of a question. They’ll ask for anecdotes too–short story examples of events in your life. Typically starting with “Tell me about…”

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.

Dreaded by some and enjoyed by others, this whole interview is about getting to know you. The person who knows you best is yourself, so this is the chance you get to describe who you are. Keep it brief, however, they’re not looking for your whole life story.

Q: Tell me about a challenge you’ve overcome.

Similar to the hardest subject question, this is prime time to show how you solved a big problem. You’ll face quite a few challenges in college, and they want to know you can overcome those challenges with your problem-solving skills.

Q: Tell me about you encountered conflict with someone and how you resolved it.

You meet all sorts of people in college, and you’re not going to get along with all of them. Whether it’s an annoying coworker, unhelpful lab partner, or a teacher who has different ideals than you, you’ll have to find a way to coexist peacefully.

Q: Tell me about a time you were in a leadership position.

Colleges love leaders. By showing leadership, you’re showing a whole host of skills: you’re personable, able to delegate tasks, able to listen as well as lead, and manage tasks and problems as they come up. This will also highlight your potential to get involved in campus activities.

Q: Tell me about your greatest experience in high school.

They’re interested in students who enjoy learning and being involved with school. Colleges want to know that you’re excited to go to college. So tell them about the thing you enjoyed most about high school–this could be a favorite memory from a club or sport, or a big project that was a lot of fun to do–whatever it is, show enthusiasm and explain why it helped you grow as a person/student.

And more often than not the interview will end with one final query: “Do you have any questions for me?” Your answer should always be “Yes!” Have four or five questions prepared, even if you only have time to ask three or so.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of common college interview questions, but we hope it helps to prepare for your interview. Practice, practice, practice (but avoid making them sound totally rehearsed or memorized). It’s always better to over-prepare rather than under-prepare.

Now schedule that interview, practice, smile, and have a firm handshake. You’ve got this.

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