A college admission interview can strengthen your overall application.

A college admission interview helps colleges understand something that is difficult to discern from an admissions application: your personality.

Not all colleges and universities conduct student applicant interviews, let alone interviews of international applicants. But if the school you are applying to does interview applicants, use these tips before, during and after the interview in order to make the best impression.

Before the College Admission Interview

It’s important that you prepare for a college admission interview before jumping in. For instance, know the basics (at the very least) about the college that is interviewing you. Where is it located? How many students attend? Is it a public or private college? Does it offer your intended college major? You shouldn’t have to ask your interviewer any of these questions.

Prepare for the applicant interview almost as you would a job interview. Expect to be presented with some of the following basic questions and requests:

  • Why do you want to attend this college?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • Tell me about yourself.

Your application is like your resume for a job or internship. Review it before the interview and be able to talk about the activities and ideas that make you unique.

Start the college admission interview right and arrive early. It’s better for you to wait for the interviewer than for him or her to wait for you.

During the Interview

Remain calm and answer questions thoroughly and truthfully.

The interviewer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for the college. You also should try to find out if the college is a good fit for you. Ask questions that truly will help you decide if you want to attend this college. Topics you can ask questions about include:

If you are an international student, you also may want to ask specifically about resources and activities available to international students.

After the College Admission Interview

Make your final impression just as good as your first impression. Send the person who interviewed you a thank you card.

For International Students: How to Arrange a College Admission Interview

How your interview will be scheduled will vary based on the college you are applying to and maybe even the country where you live.

If you will be visiting the US college in-person, contact the school ahead of time. You may be able to arrange an interview with a member of the college faculty or staff while you are there.
Not visiting the US? The applicant interview can take place in the student’s home country.

Interviews of international students that take place in a country besides the US are often conducted by alumni of the college. You may have to contact the interviewer, or the interviewer may contact you to arrange a time and place.

Colleges and universities that normally interview student applicants aren’t always able to meet with each and every international student. Even Harvard University tells international applicants on its website that it tries to make interviews available, but the lack of an interview won’t hurt your candidacy for admission.

The lesson? International students should schedule an interview if they can, but colleges also understand if that isn’t a viable option.