How to prep for your college interview

Most go well, but practice and research the school to ensure you succeed.

Sweaty palms, churning stomach and the deer-in-the-headlights look are common anticipated experiences for high school seniors when approaching their first college interview. But, truth be told, most interviews go exceedingly well and students walk away pleased with how they communicated who they are and what they’re looking for in a college.

While surveys have shown that people are more afraid of speaking in public than of death, the college interview is just not that bad. Interviewers are typically not trying to trick students and are compassionate.

How to prepare

Make a good first impression. You can’t go wrong if you dress for a business meeting.

Do your homework. Research the college, not just on its Web site, but visit college blogs such as and sites with student reviews such as;

Be comfortable bragging a little. Talk more about how you achieved your goals and less about the specific awards or honors received. Be prepared to share why you feel the college represents a good match for you. Practice responding to questions with a family member. Write up questions you think you’ll be asked such as:

What are your greatest strengths?   What was your high school like?   What are your biggest accomplishments?  What are your favorite subjects and why?  Why are you interested in attending this college?  More challenging questions:  What three adjectives would your friends use to describe you? If you had a day/week/month/year to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?  Describe an experience in which you grew and/or changed.

Prepare questions to ask each interviewer based on your research. Don’t ask questions that you can easily find out the answers to on your own. Suggested questions: Is it possible to study abroad two or more times, perhaps once in the summer and once during the academic year? How does the advising system work? Is there a “Freshmen Experience” program?

And don’t forget to exit making a good impression. Thank the interviewer and staff in the admissions office and send a thank-you note.

Do: Request a business card, come prepared, be yourself, be prompt and be polite.

Don’t be passive, arrogant, bored or rude; don’t complain and don’t chew gum.

Final don’t: Don’t worry. Unless you commit one of the “don’t” sins above, the interview will most likely not hurt your admissions chances.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;