10 Tips For Acing Your College Interview

College Interview

Ah, the dreaded college interview. It’s when you become more than just your resume and GPA – the college gets to meet you!

First and foremost, congratulations! Looking at colleges is a giant step for your future, and you should be proud of yourself for coming this far. 

If your school offers you an interview, take it, even if it’s optional. Depending on the college, you may meet either an employee of admissions at the school or alumni in your area. 

Many factors are going to influence whether you’re accepted into the college of your choice. The interview is one of them. Go into that interview and show them what you’ve got!

1. Get to Know the School

One more high school research project – for old times’ sake! 

Before the college interview, take some time to learn about the school. How much time you put into this is up to you, but the more knowledgeable you are about the school, the more prepared you’ll appear. 

Already have an idea of what you want to study or major in? Look into the specific program or division within the school; learn about the professors, the research, and the goals of the program. 

You don’t have to memorize anything. You shouldn’t go into the interview reciting the important dates in the college’s history, but showing a bit of passion for the school can go a long way.

If you have a college interview with many schools, you should prepare for each one separately. Treat each interview as an individual and learn about the school as you would a new friend. Some colleges put a lot of weight on the interview to get into the school, others may barely consider them when making their decision.

2. Early Bird Gets the… Acceptance

Most colleges will give you the option to schedule your interview at your convenience. Take the opportunity to schedule as soon as possible.

Interview slots can fill up quickly, and some colleges have rolling acceptance and the decisions are made as the applications are finalized, not at a certain date. Get familiar with the deadlines. 

Our advice: take a tour of the school before your interview. Talk about certain buildings that interested you If the college provides tours, try to schedule one on the same day!

3. Preparation is Key

This isn’t one of those “wing it” moments. 

We know, we’re preaching to the choir. You’re here reading this after all! But we want to assure you that it’s worth it to put in the extra effort before the big interview. 

Prepare to answer college interview questions. This is a big component of your prep and we will go into the specifics in the next section. 

Bring your resume, practice questions, and arrive on time. 

4. Ace that College Interview!

The following is a brief collection of common questions you may hear in an interview, as well as some recommendations in formulating your response. 

Each interview has the potential to be different, and there is no guarantee that the interviewer will ask these questions. But better safe (and overly prepared) than sorry, right? Here’s your ‘Common Questions 101.’

Tell me about yourself?

Be honest. This your chance to let them know who you are and what makes you a great candidate. Talk not only about your family, peers, and extracurriculars but your other passions like baking or your band.

This is one of the rare times that they get to see you as something besides a number. Let them see the real and wonderful you.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

Showcase your passion for something specific. If you have a major in mind or have any applicable dreams, talk about where you hope to be in that field.

Strengths and Weaknesses

What are your academic strengths and weaknesses? What are your personal ones? There is a way to humbly list off your strengths without sounding pompous, just as there is a way to recite your weaknesses without making yourself look bad.

Weaknesses can be a bit hard to make positive, but it is all about phrasing. Saying “I am a control freak” and “I’m working hard on delegating when in a leadership role” sound completely different, but come from the same root problem. 

Trust us, they do not want to hear the “I am a perfectionist” weakness response again. 

Why are you interested in this school? What could you contribute?

Time to bring all that knowledge of the school to the test! Talk about specific clubs or research you’re interested in or want to be a part of. Colleges want to know what you could contribute to the campus while you’re at the campus, as well as an alumnus.

5. The Handshake

The handshake is so undervalued. When you walk into an interview, introduce yourself and shake their hand. This sets you apart as a professional.

But it isn’t only the handshake, it is your body language. While your transcript will tell them about your success in school, you can present yourself with success right in front of them. Fake it ’til you make it! 

6. Dress For Success  

The college interview outfit. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or be a designer label, but it has to be clean and business-professional. 

If you’re worried about being able to pay for an interview outfit, look for the hidden treasures in your local thrift store or find a program that helps clothe and prepare teens and young adults for interviews!

7. Sound Professional

It is not just how you look that will make a difference in your interview, but also how you sound. This is the time to make an impression, so choose your words, tone, and phrasing carefully. You’ll be representing the university if you’re accepted, after all!

You don’t have to rush to answer, take a second to consider the question and your response. You’ll sound more composed if you think before you speak. 

A professional tone and posture can go a long way. Speak eloquently, but make sure your personality doesn’t get overshadowed by formality.

Also, this should go without saying, but don’t swear! 

8. Ask Your Own Questions

The point of your college interview is for the admissions officer to learn more about you and what you could bring to the school.

To the interviewer, it’ll appear that you’re invested in learning more about the school. It will show that you’re prepared, dedicated, and interested in this particular school.

9. Be Yourself 

The most polite version of yourself, of course. 

The interviewer wants to get a sense of the real you, beyond your GPA and personal essay

People can tell when you’re not being yourself, and while it is important to have a positive disposition, don’t be fake. There have likely been many interviewees before you so your interviewer won’t be fooled by a facade. 

You’re prepared. You’ve got this. Relax and give them the real you!

10. Follow-up 

An often forgotten, but important aspect of the college interview: the thank you note. 

Send the college interview e-mail or thank you note soon after your interview. Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. If there were any personal moments or connections you had with the interviewer, try to work that into the note. 

Already Ace That Interview?

Look at you go!

When you get into your dream college, be sure to check out TextbookRentals.com before you spend a small fortune on books.

If you’re still awaiting the interview, you’ve got this. And we’ve got your back every step of the way until you get that acceptance letter!