Colleges recognize that an application does not necessarily provide a complete picture of a prospective student’s qualities. Therefore, some universities conduct in-person admission interviews so they can learn more about a student while giving students a chance to learn more about the school. Admission officers often use the admission interviews to confirm a student’s interest to the school and assess whether the student is a good fit for them. If you are invited to an admission interview, accept it! It is your chance to show your qualities and stand out from a pool from other candidates. Before you go, here are five types of questions you must know how to answer:
1. Some Facts About The School You Are Interviewing For
The interviewers want to know if you are prepared. They believe that if you are truly interested about the school, you will definitely know something about it. Some example questions are:
“What do you know about our school?”
“Why do you want to attend our school?”
“What are the things about our school that interest you?”
To answer these questions, make sure you know three to five facts about the school that attract you. It might be about the school culture, student diversity, academic reputation or teacher-student ratio, etc.
2. Some Contributions You Have Made in Your High School or Community
Schools want to accept students who will make positive impacts to the school community. They are also interested in your accomplishments outside of your academic work. To help them assess this quality of you, they might ask questions like:
“Why should we accept you?”
“What kind of contributions will you make to the campus?”
“How will you be a valuable addition to our school?”
To answer these questions, make sure you are prepared to talk about three major contributions you have made in your high school or community. It could be about the positive impacts you made by volunteering in a local shelter, the major event you organized for your student organization, or the experience of being a tutor to help ESL students in your school.
3. Your Academic Interests
The interviewers are interested in knowing your academic interests and comparing the interests with your academic performance. For example, if you say you’re interested in engineering, they might focus more on the A you received in the AP Math class than the B you received in World History. Their questions might be similar to:
“What do you want to major in and why?”
“I see that you are interested in the engineering program. What do you know about the program and why are you interested in that?”
“How does our engineering program tie to your interest?”
Before your admission interview, make sure you go onto the school’s website and look at the majors they have. Don’t embarrass yourself by telling them you’re interested in this program and later find out from the interviewers that such a program is not offered in this school.
4. A Story of a Challenge You Experienced and How You Overcame It
Having strong problem-solving capabilities is a valuable quality as a student. The interviewers are interested in knowing your approach, your attitude and your thought process when you are presented with an obstacle. Some potential questions from the interviewers might include:
“Tell me about a time when you had to face a challenge and how did you handle it?”
“How do you handle pressure or obstacles?”
“Describe an experience when something kept you from achieving the goal.”
You should choose an example that can demonstrate your logical thinking, positive mindset, and result-oriented approach. The obstacles might be about earning an A in a very difficult class or project, improving your skills in sports or musical instruments, managing school work while taking care of young siblings, etc.
5. Three Strengths and Three Weaknesses
Knowing your strengths is as important as knowing your weaknesses. Your strengths should be qualities that can demonstrate your potential for future academic success. Examples of the questions are:
“What are some of your greatest strengths?”
“How would your teachers or classmates describe you?”
“What are some of your personal characteristics that will make you a successful student?”
Don’t lie just because you want to give a “perfect” answer. You should be honest and be sure your answer is backed up with real examples. Some good strengths are “self-motivated”, “willing to go above and beyond”, “good problem solver”, etc.
Most of the time, the interviewers would ask about your weaknesses right after the strengths question. Their questions might be:
“What are some of your weaknesses?”
“What are three things that you need to improve on?”
“Are there any areas that you could be better in?”
Make sure you prepare your answers carefully to avoid saying something that gives a bad impression to the interviewers (e.g., being lazy, always late to school, not motivated). Your weaknesses must be something that you not only recognize but also are being worked on. For example, you may say, “Time management has always been one of my weaknesses. However, I decided to improve it by creating a weekly timetable and following it religiously. So far, it’s been working very well for me and I have seen great improvement.” The key is how you turn a negative into a positive.
6. A Story of How You Dealt With Conflict
During the four years of your college life, you will be required to participate in different types of projects, with most of them are team-based. While interviewers understand that disagreements do happen, they want to know how you address conflicts. They might ask:
“What would you do if you have a conflict with your future roommate?”
“Describe an experience when you had a conflict with someone”
“What would you do if one of your future project teammates disagree with your idea?”
Don’t answer something like, “I’ve never really had a conflict with anyone.” That is probably one of the worst answers you can give. The interviewers want to hear how you resolve conflicts with respect by behaving rationally, diffusing tension, listening to others and focusing on the issue.
7. Prepare three questions you can ask the interviewers
Finally, before the interviewers wrap up the discussion, they will ask whether you have any questions for them. And yes, you do have questions for them. It is another way to confirm your interests in their school by asking meaningful questions. Some examples are:
“What do current students like the most about this school?”
“What kind of support does the school’s career center offer for internship or job placement?”
“What is the overall culture of the school?”
Students are recommended to prepare three to five questions to ask the interviewers at the end. It could be anything from academic support, student services, extracurricular activities, to campus life.
Winning the Admission Interview
The College Admission Interview is an opportunity for you to stand out as a candidate and show the school your qualities that might not be reflected on the application. It is really important for candidates to research, prepare and practice before the actual interview. Remember that the interviewers are speaking with so many candidates every day, and it is easy for them to notice when you’re not prepared. So don’t leave the preparation to the last minute.
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