A college admissions interview is an excellent way to express things that the admissions committee would not otherwise know by looking at your test scores, college admission essay and common application materials. Most admissions officers say an interview plays only a minor part in the admissions decision, but it may be more important for borderline candidates. You should contact the college admissions recruitment office or read through application materials to determine if a school requires or offers interviews.
Interview styles vary from school to school. If you are applying to a drama, music, or dance school, you should be prepared to perform or submit a portfolio at your interview. Otherwise, most college-bound students will meet with a representative from the admissions office—an admissions director, alumnus, or current student.
Often times college admissions recruitment offices schedule interview appointments back to back. If you are late, you may have only a few minutes to talk with someone or you may need to reschedule. It is best to arrive a few minutes early in case there is paper work to complete.
The interview is between you and the person interviewing you. Parents or friends should wait for you outside of the interview. There may be time afterward for you and whoever accompanies you to meet with an admissions representative.
Usually, a college interview is more of a conversation than an interview. The admissions representative is ready to learn more about you and help in the college admissions recruitment process, so there is no reason to be nervous. The interviewer may take notes to help him or her remember what you discuss. The interviewer is looking to gather an overall impression of you and your interest in the school. He or she is not counting the number of “ums” you say or noting that you ended a sentence with a preposition. Relax!
During an interview you may express your interest in the school, learn more about the school, or explain discrepancies between your academic work and your real abilities. Be prepared to answer questions and elaborate on your experiences and answers. You should speak clearly and participate in the discussion. You should not use foul language or say this is your “safety” school.
Many interviewers will end your meeting by asking if you have any questions. You should have a question or two prepared. It may be helpful to read through any college brochures or information the school has sent you. You do not want to ask questions that are answered in this information, but you may get ideas about what you want to ask from it. Or, your questions may be more general. For instance, if you meet with a current student or alumnus, you may want to ask why he or she chose this school.
After the interview, thank the person and remember his or her name. When you return home from your campus visit, write the interviewer a thank-you letter. Not only is it polite, it shows your interest in the school and will be noted in your file.