Compare prices and save on cheap textbooks at

The College Interview Tips That Will Help Get Your Foot in the Door

college interview tips

There were over 18.4 million enrolled college students in 2017. Many colleges require students to complete an interview before they’re accepted. While it might feel daunting, a college interview is also a great opportunity!

Don’t stress out. Instead, use these college interview tips and stand out from the crowd.

With these tips, you can make a strong first impression and get enrolled in the college of your dreams.

Put yourself on the road toward your college degree with these tips for a successful college interview today!

1. Know What to Ask

The best way to maximize your chances of a successful interview is to plan ahead. During the interview, someone will likely expect you to ask questions about the school. Make sure your questions are creative and show your interest. 

Take the time to complete thorough research. Look up the college online and learn as much as you can.

That way, you can avoid asking basic, simple questions. Instead, think outside of the box. Here are a few sample questions you might consider asking:

  • What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?
  • Do students spend a lot of time on campus?
  • What are some of the greatest strengths of this college?
  • What internships are available for students?
  • What’s the community around campus like?
  • What would you change about the college if you could?
  • How does the university respond to emergencies (like COVID-19)?
  • What issues are students concerned about?
  • How is the school responding to these concerns?
  • What guarantee would you make to students who are enrolled here?

When asking these questions, don’t treat it like an interview. Instead, think of it as a conversation. Try to ask follow-up questions to learn as much as possible.

Don’t forget to make eye contact, too. Show the admissions counselor you’re interested and engaged. 

2. Know What They’ll Ask

There are many common college interview questions you might come across. Try to prepare yourself to answer these questions:

  • What was your favorite subject in high school?
  • Why do you want to attend this university?
  • What do you plan on majoring in?
  • Why did you choose that major?
  • What subjects do you enjoy learning about?
  • What failure or obstacle have you learned from recently?
  • How do you enjoy spending your time out of class?
  • What is your favorite book and why?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will you contribute to our school?
  • Who do you consider your personal hero?

Try to make sure your answers don’t sound scripted. As you think about these questions, make sure to convey your passion. If you’re excited and eager to attend the university, it will show.

Otherwise, the admissions office will likely look to another applicant.

3. Practice Makes Perfect

As you use these college interview tips, remember: practice makes perfect! Consider asking a parent, friend, or teacher to help you practice. 

Here are a few “do’s” to try and implement into your interviews:

  • Leave the house early for the day of your interview
  • Brush and floss your teeth beforehand
  • Give the interviewer a firm handshake when you arrive
  • Use “please” and “thank you”
  • Sound natural when you ask and answer questions
  • Act maturely and professional
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Bring a pen and paper for notetaking
  • Remain honest when you don’t know an answer
  • Use active listening
  • Elaborate instead of answering with “yes” or “no”
  • Avoid bringing topics like politics or religion into the conversation

Here are a few “don’ts” you’ll want to avoid, too:

  • Show a lack of interest in the college or their programs
  • Behave rudely or disrespectfully
  • Act shy
  • Yawn or seem bored
  • Lie or embellish 
  • Mumble when you’re speaking
  • Use foul or slang language
  • Chew gum during the interview
  • Arrive unprepared 
  • Check your phone during the interview
  • Brag

After your practice college interview, ask the interviewer how you came across. Did you sound stiff? Did your answers seem rehearsed?

Use their feedback to improve before the day of your college interview.

4. Dress for Success

These college interview tips aren’t only about the conversation. You’ll want to consider the impression you create, too. For example, you’ll need to consider what to wear.

Usually, business or business casual attire is appropriate for a college interview. That can include:

  • A knee-length skirt or dress
  • A collared, button-down shirt
  • Slacks
  • Closed-toe shoes

Make sure to avoid:

  • Flip-flops
  • Excessive makeup
  • Shorts
  • Excessive perfume or cologne
  • Over-accessorizing
  • T-shirts
  • Hats
  • Sneakers
  • Open-toed shoes

When in doubt, ask the admissions office for a recommendation of what’s acceptable. 

5. Minimize Your Stress

Do you get stressed easily? About 40 million adults have an anxiety disorder. In fact, one in 13 people around the world suffers from anxiety.

Before your interview, it’s important to minimize your stress as much as possible. Otherwise, that stress could have a negative impact on how you answer questions during your college interview. 

Try listening to music before your interview. You can also use breathing exercises or meditation.

During the interview, don’t worry about the clock. Instead, focus on the conversation. If the interviewer sees you checking the time, they might think you’re bored or anxious.

6. Be the Best You

While it might sound like a cliche, it’s important you remained authentic. After all, the college is thinking of accepting you to their school—not someone you’re pretending to be.

However, it is important to show the best side of yourself. Appear poised, mature, and professional during the course of your interview. Try not to show off the “Netflix and chill” side of you.

7. Remain Grateful

After your interview, take the time to compose a grateful, handwritten thank-you note. If the interview helped you learn more about the school, let the interviewer know. If you connected over a book or experience during the interview, mention that as well to give your note a personal touch.

Make sure to proofread your note before you send it!

Set Yourself up for Success: Prepare Yourself With These 7 College Interview Tips

Prepare for the best possible interview with these seven college interview tips! By using these tips, you can set yourself up for success. It’s only a manner of time before you receive that admissions letter!

Want to get ahead of the curve? Start buying your textbooks before what you need sells out!

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.