Top 20 Most Common College Admission Interview Questions

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College interviews should be fun and exciting! Interviews may not be the most important part of the college admission process, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. If a college uses interviews as part of the application process, the reason for that is the school has holistic admissions.

Wondering how to best prepare for your college interview? Prepare by browsing these 20 questions you’re likely to get asked.

1. Tell Me About Yourself

This isn’t even actually a question, but it’s something you might be asked to do in an interview. This seems easier than it is but how can you reduce your whole life to a few sentences? What kind of things should you talk about? What’s the most meaningful and unique to you? It could be your most important qualities, activities you’ve been involved with, a unique experience you had, your academic interests, values or goals, fun facts, or even your family or cultural background. You should emphasize unique interests and goals, how you’ve engaged in and out of the classroom, and describe how you might contribute to the school community.

2. Why Are You Interested In This College?

There’s no easy answer to this. It involves drafting your answer, some research, and even some answers to avoid. It is best if the student has already done their research before being faced with this question. Be specific when answering this question, avoid answers like “I want to make a lot of money” or “Graduates of your college get a good job placement. Avoid generic attributes, such as the size, location, and prestige of the college. Instead, focus on specific attributes, including programs and activities. 

3. Why Do You Want to Major in _____?

Your interviewer wants to see that you take your education seriously. The most important thing is to convince them that you decided about your major and be prepared to explain why. Talk about why a certain subject inspires you or why you’re passionate about it. Avoid saying that you’re pursuing a certain major to make a lot of money or have job security. The major you choose isn’t set in stone, but you should be able to present a well-reasoned and thoughtful response that will indicate that you’re aware of your strengths and you have direction.

4. Describe A Challenge You’ve Overcome. How did you do it?

It may seem straightforward, but the question carries a lot of weight. This question is a way for interviewers to get a sense of how you address problems and adversity. To answer this kind of question, you should focus on the steps you took to overcome the challenge, rather than the challenge itself. Think of a time when you faced a problem that challenged you, and you put in a lot of effort to solve it. 

5. What Book Do You Recommend?

This question doesn’t just let interviewers see if you’re a keen reader, but also gives them some insight into your personality, and how genuinely interested you are in your chosen subject or major as well as other fields. To answer this kind of question, you shouldn’t limit your answer to the name of a book; describe it as well and think about why you like the book so much. Don’t respond with a title you think the interviewer wants to hear but on the reasons why you love the book so much and the impact it made on you.

6. How Will You Contribute To Our College Community?

This is actually quite a tricky question to answer. The interviewers want you to address how exactly you will make the college community a better place. To address this kind of question, be honest and draw on the real quality of yours and think about some of the things that you believe you are really good at and would like to get involved with while at university, discussing both the academic factors and the extracurricular ones.

7. What Is Your Biggest Strengths?

This question comes up a lot in interviews. Admission interviewers are looking for something more thoughtful, which is backed up with examples. Don’t be vague, say a characteristic, and be prepared with a back-up story of how you used this strength to help others because this will lend weight and credence to your answer.

8. What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

Concerning your weakness,  think about it ahead of time, and pick a specific weakness. It can be difficult, try to be honest without damning yourself, and talk about a weakness that you’ve already taken steps to improve on, also explaining how you intend to keep working on this, then interviewers will be impressed by your self-awareness. It’s okay to own up to your weaknesses and use this as an opportunity to prove how you’re working towards improving and overcoming them.

9. Who in Your Life Has Most Influenced You?

You don’t have to be creative with this question. Just be honest, thoughtful, and speaks from the heart.  Remember that there is no right answer other than a sincere one. The answer to the question draws from lots of different options such as family members, teachers, and friends, and these are all fine answers. You should choose someone who has influenced your goals and has to be someone important to you.

10. What Do You See Yourself Doing 10 Years From Now?

Colleges want ambitious students. You should describe your goals beyond academic ambitions, but incorporate your career into your response as well.  If you have a desired career path, you can discuss that some, but if you’re not sure what to talk about, go with what you hope to have gained from the college experience when you are an adult or the kind of person you hope to be. You don’t have to limit your plans to professional goals.

11. What Makes You Unique?

This is a tough one, try to give strength that’s something you don’t see in a lot of other people. Try to get beyond your accomplishments and think about what really makes you unique. The key is to be genuine and take this opportunity to talk about the diversity you could bring to the university. We are all unique, but it can be hard to put into words exactly what separates you from other students.

12. What High School Experience Was Most Important to You?

With this question, the interviewer wanted to find out what experiences you most value and how well you can reflect back on high school. Be sure you are able to articulate why the experience was important.

13. Tell Us About A Tough Decision You’ve Had To Make?

When answering this kind of question, give one or two concrete examples of the tough decision you have actually made and what impact it gave to you and to others. Whatever answer you give, be specific. Enumerate what you did, how you did it, and how your tough decision ultimately profited you and the others.

14. What Does Success Mean To You?

The interviewer asks how you define success because your answer can help them determine how hard you’re willing to work to meet goals. Practice how you define success by considering your greatest achievements and accomplishments. Don’t say something like “make lots of money”. Instead, focus on the journey and what role would you like to pursue and what would you contribute to society.

15. What Achievement Are You Most Proud Of? 

Highlight and mention an achievement that is quite recent and talk about how it positively affected you. If the interviewers specify that they want you to talk about academic achievement, you could talk about a test you did particularly well in or a coursework project you were especially proud of, but this could also be a non-academic achievement like you got recognition for playing an instrument to a high level or running a student society. These achievements will not only show your commitment but the willingness to go beyond what’s expected of you.

16. What Do You Like To Do In Your Spare Time?

This is asked in order to shed some light on your personality and to find out whether you’d be a good fit for the university. They want to see what interests and passions you have and get a sense of how versatile you are. Highlight some of your daily interests but avoid bringing up controversial hobbies, or anything that might make you sound lazy or easily distracted.

17. If You Could Describe Your Role Within Your Family/Friend Group, How Would You Describe It?

This question again gives you an opportunity to talk about your personality, think about the good qualities you bring to these groups. Think of some words that sound more positive and give your interviewer a better impression.

18. Why Should We Admit You To [College/University]?

This question can feel uncomfortable because the school asks you to give reasons why they should admit you. Give a confident answer without seeming too arrogant, focus on your prior academic success, and your personal values. You could also address this by including a personal story about yourself that connects to what set of values you saw within the school and why you think their values and environment suits you.

19. What Do You Think Are The Characteristics Of A Great Leader?

When answering this question, it would be better to draw an example of a leader you admire to keep your answer concise and structured. Enumerate some traits present and mention the skills you believe make them a good leader.

20. Do You Have Any Questions For Me?

A college interviewer will be very likely to give you the opportunity to ask them questions that’s why it is even okay if you arrive armed with questions you wrote beforehand and it shows the interviewer that you’re curious and engaged. Try not to ask anything that you can find out through the university’s website or any social media channels because it will look like you haven’t done your research.

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