5 College Interview Questions to Nail Down Early

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1. Tell me about yourself

This is definitely going to be the start of the interview, and possibly the start of every job interview you’ll have thereafter. It’s seemingly harmless, but to be honest this question is the worst. It’s asking you to explain yourself in one minute, maybe two minutes tops. That’s why you need to prep. This is your time to show what makes you unique. That means no answers like, “I’m kind” or “I like school.” They won’t remember those answers. What they will remember is the student who was born with a sixth toe, or the student who’s moved seventeen times. Put those two truths and a lie answers to good use. Use this as your opportunity to stand out.

2. What do you want to major in? Why?

Don’t take this too seriously. They aren’t going to make you sign a contract. You’re allowed to change your mind. This is just your chance to let them know where you see yourself in ten years, and what your current goals are. It’s also a time to reference specific programs or club opportunities their school provides. If you aren’t sure what you want to study, that’s okay too. Be honest. Maybe name a couple of paths you envision for yourself, and say you hope the first year or so will help you figure it out. They’ll appreciate your honesty.

3. What do you do for fun?

Similar to “tell me about yourself,” this question is much more difficult than it seems. While you may spend your free time binge watching Netflix or playing Call of Duty, this isn’t the time to share that. Maybe talk about your volunteer hours, or the small group you lead at church. Talk about hiking trips with your dad, or the books you’ve read. Use your discernment in what you choose to share—and what you don’t. Once again they want to get to know you, and this is your chance to share what you do.

4. Do you believe your high school career accurately reflects your abilities?

So maybe you failed chemistry, or maybe the C+ in Brit Lit hangs around your neck like that albatross. Whatever skeletons you have on your transcript, this is the time to explain them. You might not be the 4.0 person, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of your dream college. Use this time to explain why your transcript is what it is. Talk about extracurricular activities, and how you tried your best to find balance. Honesty goes a long way, and they’ll definitely be impressed if you’re candid enough to admit not turning homework for half of sophomore year. Of course there should be a moral to your cautionary tale. Be sure to include what you learned during the bad semester, and what wisdom you’ll take with you into college.

5. Why our college?

Do your research! While you might have a standard answer for the previous four, this one is going to require customization. It’s also a good chance for you to think about what makes this college special to you. Maybe it’s the socially conscious business program, or the English teacher you’ve always wanted to learn from. Think of why their school made your list, and share that. Use the time to boost their ego. They have pride in their school, and they’re looking for students to share in that.

At the end of the day the interview is a time to show these people who you are. Not all schools have interviews, and it’s often optional. Still, if you live nearby and the school has the option, take it. It’s a great opportunity. Explain to them what you do on the weekends, why you were less than successful at Chemistry, and who you hope to be someday. Put a face to the application sitting in the giant pile.

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Paige Dinneny is a recent graduate of Biola University. Born and raised in Southern California, she currently lives in Long Beach and is now pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction at Cal State Long Beach. Her days are filled with many jobs including social media marketing, retail and this! She spends her free time writing, watching the Game Show Network and going to concerts.