Admissions

Seven Common College Interview Questions

iStock

Since plenty of students ask whether a college interview is a required part of the application process, you’ve probably also spent some time thinking (and worrying) about what questions you might have to answer if you choose to participate in one.

Interviews are rarely required but are often encouraged as a way to stand out beyond your paper application, and while there are plenty of tips you can use to ace your college interview, at the top of that list is to practice, practice, practice. But how do you know what to practice? Luckily, plenty of students have gone before you in this regard, so we have a list of frequently-asked questions for which you’ll want to have an answer ready to go when you’re put on the spot.


1. What’s an example of a challenge that you overcame, and what did you learn from it?

This isn’t just a question you’ll be asked at your college interviews, but one that you’ll face throughout your life, particularly at job interviews, so make sure you’re ready for it. Admission officers want to know that you’re adaptable and able to face challenges head-on, as life in college can be stressful and challenging in itself. Use this opportunity to highlight your problem-solving skills, your resourcefulness when facing obstacles and how your approach to challenges as a student (and elsewhere) has changed because of these examples.

2. What’s something about yourself that I wouldn’t know from your application?

Admission officers want students who are going to bring more than just a paper presence to their campus — they want people who are going to bring their school to life in ways like demonstrated school spirit or unique hobbies and interests. This is also a great chance for you to highlight anything you couldn’t find a good place for on your application. If you run a food review blog for the local restaurants in your town, or if you’re a part of a band with friends from school, or even if you’ve organized spirit rallies for your high school’s football games, this is the time to use it to catch the college’s attention outside of your application.

3. What’s your favorite high school class and why?

Answering this one should (hopefully) be easy for you! What’s one subject you’ve looked forward to studying throughout your high school career? (Or at least what’s one that you’ve looked forward to more than others?) Once you’ve got an answer, figure out the reason why (if you haven’t already). An important hint here: Don’t choose a class you enjoy just because it’s easier than your others. Instead, focus on a class that challenges you in a way you find exciting or engaging rather than a subject you don’t have to put as much effort into.

4. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in class?

Your roster of extracurricular activities is a great place to draw an answer for this, and it even ties in with other questions you’re already expecting. Talk about any sports you play or the clubs you've joined. Maybe you like to dedicate a little time to reading for your own pleasure or volunteering at a food bank or nursing home around town. These are all perfect things to mention with this question.

5. What do you plan to study in college?

You might be thinking: I already said I’m undecided on my application, so I don’t have an answer. But don’t worry, there’s an easy way to work this to your advantage because it’s totally okay to talk about a few different majors or paths you’re considering. Admission officers know that plenty of applicants are still unsure — they just want to know that you’ve given it some thought. Plus, this can be another great opportunity to show that you’re driven if you choose to explain how you might go about picking a major if you’re accepted.

6. Why do you want to attend this college or university?

The research you’ve done when deciding which colleges you’ll apply to will have made this one a no-brainer. Use the reasons you kept this college on your list while others were ruled out to fuel your answer: Is its program for your chosen major (or one of your potential majors) known for its excellence? Have you heard great things about the campus experience from recent graduates? Maybe you recognized an abundance of other resources and accommodations during your campus visit that you don’t want to miss. The key here is to be specific to each school and not to give blanket statements that could apply to any college or university. You’re a unique student and deserve a unique experience, and admission officers want to know that they’re going to give that to you!

7. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

One of the most important things you can do in your college interview is find a way to connect with your interviewer. The interviewer is representing the school for a reason, and finding common ground through a shared goal for your college career or even a shared hobby can be a great way to prove that you’ll fit in on campus. But this question is also a great time for you to focus the conversation on filling in any gaps left in your research. Asking questions here will prove you’re engaged with your college search and that you deserve a spot on campus next year.

Head over to The Princeton Review's YouTube channel for more tips on acing your college interview.