The rise of test-optional college applications is leading universities to reexamine how different elements of the admissions process are weighed. After all, test scores and GPA are small factors of many that determine a student’s potential and capabilities.
It is in the interview that the admissions advisor gets to know what makes you unique. And asking memorable questions is one way to leave a lasting impression. As the significance of college interviews increases, preparation is a necessity.
While you can’t anticipate every question your college interviewer will ask, it’s safe to assume that they will open the floor up to you. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of unique and thought-provoking questions to ask a college interviewer.
7 Questions to Ask During a College Interview
1. What surprised you about this university when you attended?
Good college interview questions display your interest in the school and the interviewer—this question does both.
Many interviewers are alumni and have fond memories of their alma mater. If yours is, ask a few questions about the experiences they had at the college. You can view the college from a different angle by hearing the answer to this question.
Getting an interviewer to open up to you about personal experiences is also a great way to foster real conversation and build rapport.
2. The [insert topic] initiative that the university launched is inspiring. Is there a way for students to get involved?
Next on our list of questions to ask in a college interview is one that shows off your knowledge of current campus events.
By noting a recent development, you convey that keeping up with campus news is important to you. Universities look for students who care about what is going on at the school, mentioning initiatives makes it clear that you did your research. Asking about how you can get involved also communicates your drive to be a positive force on campus.
If asking about involvement doesn’t apply in the situation, that is okay. Instead, you can ask:
- What are the university’s long term goals in regards to this initiative?
- Were students involved in getting this initiative pushed forward?
3. How would you describe the student body on campus?
When considering what college interview questions to ask, think about school culture, what matters to you about the people you’ll be surrounded by during your collegiate career? While interacting with students is the best way to ascertain this, the college interviewer can also provide insights.
Inquiring about the student body reveals your desire to get to know those around you. This question also uncovers what the atmosphere on campus is like. Will you mesh with the other students? What defines this student body and sets them apart from others? You can preface this question by mentioning your desire to meet new people at the university.
4. You mentioned the [insert name] program on campus. Are freshmen able to join?
You can come up with questions to ask your college interviewer while you are in the interview. While preparing questions beforehand is a smart approach, you’re not limited to them once the interview starts.
As you listen to your interviewer, take mental notes of topics or details that pique your interest. Then, let the interviewer know that they had your attention by inquiring about specific topics mentioned during the interview. This will display your interest in the topic mentioned and let the interviewer know that you listened attentively.
5. I noticed that the [insert name] department offers two tracks for [insert major]. Can you provide some information about the differences between them?
Specific questions about academic opportunities make good questions to ask in a college interview. If you are debating between two programs or two tracks in a certain program, now is a great time to ask about them.
This question exhibits your interest in specific educational paths and makes it clear that you looked into the programs. It also communicates your eagerness to learn more. Just be sure to ask for specific details so that the interviewer can give you detailed information that is not already on the school website.
6. How can a freshman passionate about [sustainability, mental health,etc.] positively impact the student body?
An inquiry displaying your interests is next on the list of questions to ask during a college interview. If you want to stand out, speaking about a particular passion is a great option. Allow the interviewer to see your selfless side and remember you as a hopeful student with goals outside of the classroom.
Your desire to make a difference on campus is another positive element that this question enhances. If your interviewer attended the school, they might give specific recommendations about where you can get started.
7. What is one annual tradition that students enjoy being a part of?
This lighthearted question allows you to learn something new about the school and makes the point that you want to be an active participant in campus events. Colleges want students who will do more than simply attend classes. Coming across as eager to learn and invested in school traditions is another way to make yourself memorable.
You can modify this question to ask for a more personalized view of school traditions from your interviewer. For instance, you can ask, “what was your favorite tradition on campus during your undergrad career?”
The Wrong Questions to Ask During a College Interview
In a college interview, there are certainly no wrong questions; however, there are questions that you should avoid.
What does this mean?
Steer clear of questions that can be easily answered by information on the university website. While good-natured, these questions show a lack of preparation. Start by researching the university. This action will not only help you answer questions during the interview but also inspire your list of college interview questions.
Instead: Ask for specific details that aren’t readily available on the university website. For example, if only a program description is available, ask for more information about the courses, professors and internship opportunities.
Don’t mention your chances of getting into the school. Simply put, at the time of the interview, the decision to extend an offer may not be finalized.
Instead: Ask about current students in the school. What are their qualifications? What can you do to prepare yourself to start at the school? Show your eagerness to be a crucial and beneficial addition to the student body.
Don’t ask questions or engage conversations that degrade other universities—even rival schools. It’s a compelling method to build rapport, bonding over “the competition.” However, these conversations, at best, will have college interviewers raising an eyebrow, and, at worst, hinder your chances at admission.
Instead: Stick with questions that relate to the university, programs and traditions.
Don’t ask college interview questions that don’t further inform your college-making decisions. No matter what, it’s crucial to be authentic in your inquiries. Many students search for questions to ask during a college interview that they believe will impress the admissions officer. This completely misses the point of this portion of the interview.
Instead: Use this as a time to discover if this university is right for you. Good questions to ask in a college interview are those that you care about.
Lastly, it’s helpful to think of the interview as a conversation—both you and the interviewer are trying to get to know each other. Specifically, the interviewer is getting to know you, and you are getting to know the school. Both parties want to know if this is a good fit.
Ask questions throughout the interview if it feels natural. For instance, if the interviewer asks about your involvement in the debate team in high school, you can end your answer with a question about debate opportunities at the university.
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