Complete Guide to College Interviews
For international students, getting into a good American college with a significant financial aid is not an easy task. You need every single application parts to shine, and college interviews are a great way to add to your application and to show the colleges that you are interested in them.
Let’s learn more about college interviews now. Some colleges take them into consideration, and some do not. Many colleges state whether they will consider them in the application process at the CollegeBoard website.
To find whether Colleges will consider College Interviews in their application process:
- Go to Collegeboard.org.
- At the upper-right corner of the website, click on the search button and type the name of the college.
- Click on the link to the college in the search results.
- On the left hand sidebar, there will be many choices (At a Glance, Deadlines, Majors, Campus Life, Applying, Paying). Click on “Applying”.
- After you have clicked on that link, scroll to the bottom of the page to find what factors are very important, important, and considered in the admission process for that particular college.
- If college interviews are in the very important, important, or considered lists, they are taken into consideration; if not, interviews are not evaluative and is not considered in the admissions process.
Why are College Interviews Important?
- College interviews are important to show demonstrated interest at a college. This is important to colleges to protect their yield (ratio of students admitted to students actually enrolling). Yield is an important part of the college ranking because it is an indicator of the college’s reputation. Higher the yield, higher the rankings. To protect their yield, colleges want to admit students who actually are interested in them rather than admitting students that applied randomly at different colleges.
- They are especially important to international students because the colleges want to know your level of English proficiency.
- They are great places to ask questions about the college to an alumni or college representative.
Prestigious Universities place less weight on interviews because they will know that students will likely to attend their universities if admitted. However, smaller and less prestigious universities place much importance on interviews to protect their yield. If the interviews are listed as very important or important, it is a good idea to request an interview because that will greatly affect your admission results.
Types of College Interviews
This is the most recommended type of interview. Many colleges will let you visit campus and interview with their admissions representative. This is most recommended if you have the money and the time to visit the campus.
Most college will offer an alumni interview. After you have requested an alumni interview, an alumni living in your area will contact you to interview at a public place (Starbucks, Panera Bread, etc). To request an alumni interview, fill the alumni interview form in college’s website. Keep in mind that some colleges do not have an option of interviewing with an alumni.
Skype is a video calling application owned by Microsoft. Some colleges will offer a Skype interview if there is no alumni living in your area and if you can’t visit the campus. If you can’t do alumni interview or campus interview, ask for a Skype interview.
Some colleges offer phone interview with an admissions representative. If no options are available, ask the college if they offer phone interview.
The information about interviews are posted in each college’s website, each offering different options. I highly recommend your taking advantage of this opportunity to interview.
Frequently Asked Questions in College Interviews
Why this College?
This was the most asked question when I interviewed. I think that I was asked this question ten out of the twelve college interview that I’ve done. In order to answer this question, you will have to do a thorough research on the college. You’ll need to research their website, look at college confidential posts, and look into other sources for information. I would strongly suggest your preparing one or more reasons why this college specifically appeals to you. To find specific places to research about colleges, please read this article.
How did you find about this College?
Answer truthfully and prepare your answers beforehand. If you found out about the college from advertisement that was sent to your home, tell them so. If you heard it from a friend, tell them so. It is always good to tell the truth.
What subjects most interested you in high school?
Think of subjects that you are interested in and the reason behind your interest. My answer to this question was chemistry because there are many mysterious yet to be discovered and I also like learning about invisible things that have a profound effect on humans. Also, I mentioned about scientists who have completed periodic table and are continuing to research elements beyond the periodic table. If they do find elements beyond the completed periodic table, however, scientists have to formulate new equations about the path of the electron because the existing Schrodinger’s equations would not work. Because of great discoveries and new problems such as these to be solved, my answer to this question was chemistry.
What activities did you do outside of school? Did you work?
This is another common type of questions. Think of extracurricular activities (activities outside of school work such as sports, instruments, hobbies, etc.) and the impact that that particular activity had on you as a person. My answer to that question was cross country, track, and tutoring. From cross-country and track, I learned the importance of teamwork because you needed every team member to do their best in order to place high as a team, and I also learned perseverance because running in the scorching heat of Florida during the summer was very difficult. In tutoring, I learned to see from other people’s perspective. It is a good idea to prepare brief lessons that you have learned from each extracurricular activities.
How would you contribute to the college?
For me, this question was the most difficult one. To answer this question, you need to know what aspects make you special. My answer was the experience meeting with a variety of people from all over the world. Living in a dormitory, I have a chance to meet so many different types of people and learn to be accepting of different types of people. Also, I mentioned the many years of tutoring experiences to both domestic and international students, and I would love to continue to tutor and help international students to be adjusted to the foreign atmosphere.
Any other information you want to share with us?
Some interviewers ask this question after they have asked all other questions. Make sure to prepare additional information that will strengthen your application such as family situations, financial situations, and work schedule. For this question, I stated that I have helped many international students that have come to our school as boarding students. Many international students did not know how to speak English and needed help communicating. I have helped them by translating and tutoring them to help them to be adjusted to the foreign atmosphere.
Try to think of anything that will strengthen your application that the admission officers will not know by reading your application. Preparing your answers beforehand will help you to answer this somewhat difficult question with confidence.
Scheduling College Interviews
It is a good idea to schedule campus interviews right after school starts in August or during fall breaks if you have one. For alumni interviews, September is a good time to start filing the request forms so that colleges will have time to schedule an available time and location for you and an alumni. If you can’t do either type of interviews, contact the college for Skype Interviews. If that’s not possible, you should ask for phone interviews. Keep in mind that it is not rude to be asking for different interview options; actually, colleges like students are persistent and show demonstrated interest.
College Interviews Tips
- Prepare the answers for the frequently asked questions in college interviews.
- Smile and be friendly to the interviewer.
- Talk slowly to communicate your thoughts well and to pronounce correctly.
- After the interview, ask questions that you cannot find on the college’s website.