7 Tips to Mastering the Admissions Interview


You’ve picked your top schools, researched what you’d like to study and are starting the visit process…and you see that an *interview* is highly recommended for some of your top schools


You just want to go to college! You’re not interested in a full time job yet, so what’s with this interview thing?!

This was not too far from my reaction in junior year of high school when I found out that my top schools highly recommended an interview. What it turned out to be was far better than the interrogation picture I had painted in my mind. It was actually a very useful time of information sharing and gathering, in which I got to learn more about my top picks and they got to learn about me from more than my ACT scores, GPA and essays.

For some colleges, such as at Grove City, an interview is highly recommended for admission and may also be important for priority scholarship consideration. Inquire about the formats offered: on-campus interviews, off-campus interviews (perhaps a regional counselor is in your area), or on Skype! Your admissions counselor can help you decide which option is best for you. Additionally, learn about other benefits of an interview (fee waiver, etc.)

Bring along a resume or a list of extra-curricular activities, work experience and the like for your reference as well as for the interviewer’s reference if they ask to see. It’s also a good idea to have a notepad with you to jot down any advice or information the interviewer gives to you. Be sure to do your research on the college beforehand so that you know specifics of what you like and what questions you have about that school/major.

Professional attire for an interview is recommended: nice slacks, button down shirt and tie and dress shoes for guys (suit or sports coat may be appropriate too); business dress/skirt/blazer, suit or blouse/pants/skirt and closed toed shoes for ladies.

View a handy crossword just for you right after you read these tips!

1)      Know Your Basics

Be sure to know your SAT/ACT scores, your current GPA, significant courses that you have taken in high school/community college and the courses you will be taking your senior year/summer. Even though colleges will obtain this information through other means (i.e. transcript, official test scores, etc.), it’s helpful to know these things if asked.

2)      Think in Specifics

Interviews are the time to be specific in giving examples of what you have accomplished in high school. Some ways to do this include, detailing what your responsibilities entailed in a certain position or club, sharing what challenges you faced when you entered a job or position and what you did to address or overcome them, or recalling things you learned or accomplished in a certain role. Fortunately, this preparation can be done beforehand: brainstorm specific things you did or achieved in the clubs, ministries or programs you were involved in.

Examples of questions you may be asked: What was the most significant activity you participated in? How did you contribute to your high school? What is your greatest accomplishment?

Give an example of a time when you encountered an obstacle.

3)   Relax

An interview may sound nerve-wracking at first, but at its core, it’s a conversation that helps you to get to know the school better and the counselor get to know you better. At the beginning of the interview, give the counselor a firm handshake as you introduce yourself. At any point, if you don’t know the answer to a question or can’t recall the perfect example, that’s OKAY. Take a deep breath, pause and take a moment to think. Silence to reflect is okay!

4)      Highlight

This is the time to talk about your high school/life experience and accomplishments! When prompted, be sure to mention: leadership experience, innovative ventures, service opportunities, and opportunities you have already taken in your field of study/major.

Be sure to think creatively- for example, “Leadership” experience means more than simply being a student body president. For example, leadership can include initiating a new organization, facilitating a Bible study, peer-mentoring a student or creating & executing a service project.

As mentioned previously, these are great prompts to brainstorm ahead of time so that you walk into the interview with some examples already prepared.

5)      Reflect : Lessons & Growth

Colleges look for a student’s ability to set and attain goals and to remain resilient amidst hardship and new settings. You may be asked questions that ask you to reflect on your goals and purpose. Take some time before the interview to reflect on these types of questions (see some examples below).

Examples of questions you may be asked: How do you hope to contribute to this college? Why do you want to go to this school? What are some of your long-term goals for work? Give an example of a time you were challenged.

The goal in these types of questions is to think through your “fit” at each college and what you value in the school at which you interview. Then, how do you fit in with that: do you strive for the same values? Believe in the same mission/purpose statement?
Or, what was a time that you were challenged or experienced hardship and what did you learn from it? What did you learn about yourself? What would you have done differently? How did that experience impact the way you think/act now?

6)      Ask Good Questions

Typically, the admissions counselor will leave time for you to ask questions at the end. Your questions should show that you have done your research on the college: so, avoid questions that could be answered through a quick google search. Use this time to help figure out whether this college is a good fit! So, if you have questions, concerns or areas of clarification, now is a great time to ask.

Examples of good questions: What internship opportunities are offered for students in X major? How could I best prepare for the academic load at this college?

Questions to avoid: So….how big is the school? Do you offer my major?

7)      Post-Interview Etiquette

Once the interview concludes, be sure to give a firm handshake and thank the counselor for their time. Also, ask for a business card so that you can follow up your visit with a thank-you card to the counselor. This is a great way to not only express your appreciation, but also to stick in the counselor’s mind.

(click and save this link or view below: Mastering the Interview )

Mastering the Interview



How to Nail Your College Admissions Interview


Grove City College Career Services Office Interviewing Guide



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