Interviews are another part of the application process. Once you have done some general research on a college and know basic info (e.g., if you’re interested in a specific major, make sure you know whether they offer it), you’ll be ready to speak with an admissions officer (or sometimes, a college senior). When you visit colleges this summer – especially if it’s a school far away, you may want to ask about setting up an interview at the same time; see below for info on alumni interviews, which can happen later in the process (a good idea if you feel you need more time to learn about the school or consider your level of interest before interviewing.) Here are some guidelines to help you.
What is the purpose of holding interviews?
They help colleges get to know applicants more personally; they allow applicants a chance to demonstrate strong interest in a school; and they allow applicants to get to know a particular college better, thus helping to make that ultimate “good match.”
Do all colleges offer interviews?
Not all; this is why you must check with each college. In general, liberal arts colleges
and smaller universities are more likely to offer interviews than large state schools, but this can vary.
If a college offers interviews, does that mean they require them?
No. If a college requires an interview, they will state that. Some colleges say they
“strongly recommend” interviews – in that case, plan to have one if possible. Others simply say that interviews are available, or they may even say that interviews are informational only – in that case it’s your choice.
What’s the difference between an “evaluative” interview and an informational interview?
The main difference is the role the interview plays in the admissions process. An
evaluative interview will become part of your application file. (So a strong interview can help your chances of admission.) A “non-evaluative”/informational interview is similar, but it may not carry weight in the admissions process.
Why offer a non-evaluative interview?
Several reasons: it allows applicants a chance to get to know a college better, and it
allows colleges to reach out to applicants more directly. While it may not play a direct role in evaluating your application, it can still help both you and the college.
How do I set up an interview?
Check each school’s website for information; if you don’t find it, call the admissions
office to see whether interviews are recommended. If they recommend an interview, ask the following:
Are interviews held on campus over the summer?
If they are offered on campus, how/when should I make an appointment?
I won’t be able to travel to campus for an interview. Are alumni interviews available? How do I make an appointment for an alumni interview? (at some schools the alumni are given student’s names to contact after the application is filed – find out how they handle this)
What is the latest I can interview if I am applying Early? Regular?
Are alumni interviews as good as an on-campus interview?
From the college’s point of view, either type of interview is fine for admission purposes.
You might prefer one or the other. An on-campus interview may allow for a second visit to a school, when you can also look at the campus or particular programs more closely (or see the school in session). If a school is close by, having an on-campus interview makes sense. If it’s farther away, an alumni interview is the norm especially if you’ve already been to campus. If an alumni interviewer calls you, the proper response is to set up an appointment – at that point, the interview is no longer optional.
Most interviews are a kind of directed conversation; the best are informal and relaxed; sometimes your interviewer will be a college senior rather than an admissions officer. Interviewer styles and questions will vary, but often get started with the following types of questions:
How did you get interested in _______ College?
What are your favorite classes at Rye Country Day?
Outside of classes, what are you involved in?
Are you visiting any other schools? (Be careful answering this one – don’t feel you have to share your college list with any interviewer; politely dodge that question by mentioning only one or two schools nearby to the one you are visiting, or by simply saying you haven’t finalized your list yet.)
What is it about ________ College that makes it a good fit for you?
Have you had any leadership positions during high school?
Tell me how a good friend would describe you.
During high school, have you had any challenges or obstacles you’ve had to overcome, and how have you done that?
Who are your favorite teachers? What makes them your favorite?
How would you say you learn best – what is your learning style?
Tell me about someone you admire greatly.
How have you spent the past few summers?
What do you like to read? (hint: never say you hate to read! All college students do lots of reading….)
What do you do just for fun?
Describe Rye Country Day School to me, academically and socially.
How do you see yourself contributing to the community at _____________ College? What do plan to get involved in here?
No interviewer will ask all of these questions, of course, but you may encounter similar questions. Be ready with some questions of your own; perhaps some from the list on the following page. Treat the interview as an interesting conversation, be flexible and allow the conversation to go where the interviewer leads it. If you have certain things you want the interviewer to know about you, be sure to talk about those things during the interview. Thank the interviewer and, if possible, get his/her card and send a thank-you note afterward.
Questions You Might Ask an Interviewer
Before you go into any interview it is helpful to spend a few minutes thinking about what is important to you in choosing a college. These can be very broad concepts (e.g. rural campus/city campus, greek life, big school/small school) or very specific attributes (e.g. business school, Div. I athletics, active political organizations). Think of the interview not only as an opportunity for the college to get to know you, but for you to get to know the school.
Here are just a few questions you might use. Please keep in mind that your questions, the ones that matter to you, might be completely different from these samples:
How would you classify academic life here?
Can you spend a little time talking about student and faculty interaction at __________?
How are most classes taught? Are they in a lecture format or discussion based? Are they taught by faculty or graduate students?
What do your students do for fun? Is social life centered on athletics, Greek Life, clubs and organizations, etc.?
How do students become active or get involved on campus?
I consider myself a ____________. What types of related activities do you have on campus?
Do the majority of students spend most of their time on campus? Do most students live on campus?
Do you guarantee housing? If so, for how long? If not, where else do students live?
What is the relationship between the College/University and the town? Is there a great deal of interaction between the two?
Do you have study abroad opportunities? Do many students study abroad? Where/when do students go abroad?
If I want to have an internship experience in college can I do that here? Is there an advisor or office that will help me?