College Interviews, Part 1: Top 10 Tips on how to have a successful college interview

Post By: COYD Staff

college admissions interviewThe Washington Post released an article this week that discussed the growing importance of an admissions interview. In 2008, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, only 11 percent of colleges attached “considerable importance” to it. However, if you compare it to the statistics in 2003-2005 when just 9 percent of colleges considered it important to the admissions process, you can see that the interview is gaining more importance every year. Daniel de Vise of the Washington Post states that the interview statistic might not be telling the full story. He states “a rising share of colleges, 21 percent as of 2008, put considerable importance on the applicant’s “demonstrated interest” in the school: actions taken by the applicant that show he or she is relatively likely to attend if admitted. The interview, perhaps more than any other single factor, demonstrates an applicant’s interest.”

Like the video resume and applying early, requesting an interview is also another way a student can show that they are considerably interested in that particular university. In addition, the interview gives the student an opportunity to put a face to the application. But just like a bad video resume or a rushed early application, a bad interview can also hurt your chances of getting into college more than if you had never had the interview at all.

Below are 10 tips you should follow so that your interview doesn’t do more harm than good:

1. Ask questions

The interview period is not just a time for the interviewer to get to know the interviewee. It is also a chance for the interviewee to learn more about the university. If the interviewer is an alumnus, ask him/her about their time at the university and how it has affected their life. People like sharing their experiences with other people and when you show interest in their experiences and life, you will be able to make a deeper connection and in turn, they will have an interest in your success as well.

2. Be natural

Don’t be something you aren’t, people can see right through you. The best way to show genuine interest in this university is to be genuinely interested. Spend time reading about the university and talking to other people who are attending or who have attended and get your excitement level up so that when you meet the interviewer, you will naturally be able to talk about the university and how you would make a good fit.

3. Show interest in the school

You should know basic and unique information about the school. Basic information includes the city it is located in, the mascot, the ranking, what the school is known for, the size of the school, the class size…etc. This information can be found on the university’s website and on the College Board site.

Unique information includes university research that is leading the way in a certain field, professors that are prominent in our political and social society (i.e. Condoleeza Rice was the Vice Provost of Stanford University), sports that the university excels in, any championships the university has won in the last few years…etc. These are just a few examples of “unique information” that help the conversation in an interview.

4. Listen carefully to what they ask and say.

The best way to show that you are listening is referencing what they said later on in the conversation. Remember, imitation is the best form of flattery. Also, listen to their questions and try not to ask them to repeat the question. Focus on what they are saying and don’t pay attention to anything else besides what comes out of the interviewer’s mouth.

5. Make eye contact, smile and occasionally say their name.

These basic things show confidence. They also put the interview at ease as well. Studies show that saying a person’s name increases your likability.

6. Current events – know what’s going on around you.

If you don’t know what the BP oil spill is you’re in trouble. Some interviewers will reference or straight up ask you your opinion about a certain current event. Read CNN or other news sites so that you have basic knowledge of what’s going on around you.

7. Dress business casual. Dress conservatively.

8. Be on time!

9. Follow up with a thank you note.

10.Don’t offer negative information about yourself.

Some students want to utilize the interview opportunity to explain their low grades or test scores. There’s a way to show them the reason without having to bring up that you have bad grades. Be smart and organically find an opportunity to share your financial, family, health hardships that you experienced during high school that might have caused your bad scores. It’s better to show how your difficult experiences made you a stronger, better person than use it as an excuse for your bad grades.

Next post, we will be discussing the most common college interview questions.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Tweets that mention Help on how to have an excellent college interview | College Admission | College Of Your Dreams Blog -- - Aug 03., 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zack James, collegeofyourdreams. collegeofyourdreams said: College Interviews, Part 1: Top 10 Tips on how to have a successful college interview via @AddToAny […]

Leave a Reply