9 College Interview Questions To Prepare For

Emma Quinn 
Published on
May 27, 2021

We’re currently in the process of the college interviews season. With universities from all over the world requesting the time to learn more about us face-to-face, it can often be scary to come up with answers on the spot. Here, we’ll go over questions that interviewers tend to ask so you can prepare for them beforehand and nail your response.

1) Tell me about yourself

This is commonly one of the first questions interviewers will ask (besides something like “how are you”). In your response, talk about who you are and what you like to do for fun. Do not give basic facts such as where you are from and boring information that could be found on your application.

Talk about a strength, an accomplishment, or a passion. What do you like to do in your free time? What extracurriculars matter a lot to you? Your interviewers will most likely ask you follow-up questions regarding your extracurriculars, so be prepared to answer them. You can talk about your beliefs or movements that mean a lot about you.

2) Why “this major”?

Your interviewer wants to know why you’re so passionate about your preferred major. Talk about:

  1. How you discovered your interest
  2. The reason behind your interest
  3. How you developed your interest further (ex: joining clubs, doing projects)
  4. How you can apply your interests at their school (ex: bringing up related programs/clubs)

3) Why this school?

They might ask how you heard about the school, but they ultimately want to know why you are applying and if you would be a good fit at their school. Before the interview, here a few things to research about the school:

  • What is the school's mission statement?
  • How big are the classes?
  • What programs are you interested in?
  • Are there any facilities you would be excited to use in the future?

Here are three things to think about:

  • What does that college offer that other colleges don't? Is it the program or curriculum or clubs?
  • What can YOU offer? Does it match with what that college is looking for?
  • How can you show that the school will benefit from you attending?

Show your interest in the school. Do not treat them as a backup option for your dream college. If you have a plan for the future, talk about what part that college would play in your plan and career goals.

4) How has COVID affected you?

This is to get a better understanding of how life was for you over the break. Talk about any struggles you and your family may have had at the time such as illness, loss, mental health, unemployment, etc. After you mention a negative event, think of a way to make it positive. You can also mention anything special you did such as a new project you took on or a new skill you learned.

They may also ask you questions such as “What is your school doing during the pandemic”, “How has the college application process been (they may ask you where else you have applied and “Were you able to submit a test score?”).

5) What have been your favorite/least favorite classes this year?

This question is a bit more casual. Your interviewer wants to hear some of your current courses and how you feel about them. Think about a class that has made you excited to learn or a class you are not too enthusiastic about. Always explain the reasons behind your like and dislike of the class.

6) What is an obstacle you have had to overcome?

This one is important. Your interviewer wants to know how you respond when faced with a problem. Are you able to take the lead when you hit a roadblock? Can you think on your feet? How well do you cooperate with others? Think back on a time you reacted to a problem and be ready to discuss this scenario.

Use the STAR method:

  1. Situation - Give some context. Where/when was it? Who was involved? What were the stakes?
  2. Task - Your objective and the challenges.
  3. Action - What steps did you take to overcome the challenge? If you are in a team, don't talk about what your other members did; focus on what you did.
  4. Result - The outcome. What did you learn from this experience? Did you overcome the challenge?

Do not pick a problem that will put you in a bad light. If what you did was illegal or immoral, pick another experience.

7) What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Your interviewer wants to know areas you feel confident in as well as areas you recognize need improvement. Come up with a few specific traits to bring up if asked this question and remember to be honest.

Tips on choosing a weakness:

  • Never disguise a strength as a weakness; it comes off as recycled
  • Choose a weakness that can be improved on
  • Avoid unfixable personality traits
  • Don't choose your actual biggest weakness

After you say your strength, bring up an example that supports your answer. Then talk about how you can use this strength in your future work. Introduce your weakness by saying "One area I need to improve in is...". After you say your weakness, turn your negative into a positive and bring up ways you work around this weakness or work to overcome this flaw.

Cliché strengths to avoid:

  • I'm a natural leader.
  • I'm a team player.
  • I'm a problem solver.
  • I'm very organized.

Cliché weaknesses to avoid:

  • I'm too much of a perfectionist.
  • I work too hard.
  • I procrastinate often.
  • I don't have a weakness.

8) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It may be hard to think about your life that far into the future, so you don’t need a clear plan! Mention how far you want your education to go and what job you would like to have. The interviewer wants to learn more about your academic and career goals through this question.

9) Do you have any questions for me?

This is your chance to ask them about their experience at the school. It can help you get a better sense of the school and let the interviewer know that you're interested in the college. Steer away from questions that can be easily answered with a Google search.

Sample questions you can ask:

  • What's one thing you would change about this college?
  • What would you have done differently?
  • What are the traits of a student who would do really well in this college?
  • What makes students at this college different from students at other colleges?

Your interviewer may not ask all these questions, and they may ask ones that aren’t on this list. However, these main ones will help you be ready to answer any question thrown at you. Good luck!

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