Winning College Interview Tips

Not all colleges offer interviews. But if your prospective college does, then take this opportunity to shine!

If you have the option to interview, keep in mind your interviewer may or may not be someone from the admissions office. Many times, colleges delegate interviews to their select students and alumni. And don’t stress about planning a whole trip. Especially with Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, or even FaceTime calls accessible, you may be able to take part in a video interview. 

What’s important is that you prepare! College interviews are your chance to build valuable relationships and demonstrate interest. 

10 Tips To Put Your Best Foot Forward In Your College Interview

Your goal in a college interview is to show the college that you are a good fit and to ask thoughtful questions to gain important knowledge. 

1. Send Your First-Choice Application By The End Of September 

Have you heard of the “halo effect”?

As a student, you create your own halo effect with positive first impressions. This includes paying attention to your teacher, taking notes, asking good questions, introducing yourself to your teacher or professor, and so on. 

To create the halo effect with your prospective college, submit your first-choice application by the end of September of your senior year. Additionally, you want to get off to a strong start in all of your classes.

This way, your interviewer will see that you took initiative by applying early, you’re working hard in school, and that you are serious about attending their college.

2. Submit A Stellar Application

It’s important to realize the workload involved with applying to college is equal to that of an Advanced Placement (AP) course. Although the college admissions process can be draining, it’s essential to do more than the bare minimum.

Go through your application two or three times to ensure that everything is complete. We mean a dot to every i and a cross to every t. And make sure to complete supplemental questions and essays. Don’t skip anything! 

Furthermore, make sure to include your resume. This may be your volunteer commitments, extracurricular activities, family obligations, or after school job. 

3. Write A Thoughtful, Eyebrow Raising Essay

To some students, the most challenging part of a college application is writing a memorable college essay. This leads to many students procrastinating the start of their essay. 

However, an attention-grabbing, eyebrow-raising essay can help your application shine above the competition, even if your grades aren’t fantastic. Bright Futures has developed an essay framework from our years of experience helping students through the college admissions process. This 5-way test (5WT) helps students to write outstanding essays. 

Colleges aren’t looking for happy-go-lucky essays. They want to get to know you beneath the surface. Before you submit your essay, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it personal?
  • Is it insightful?
  • What’s the point?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What’s the format?

Did you know Bright Futures hosts essay writing workshops? Contact us today to learn all the ways we can help you put forth the strongest application. 

4. Attend Your High School’s College Info Events

Attend your high school’s special college events, especially those organized by the counselors. 

These events are meant to explain local procedures for requesting transcripts and getting teacher recommendations. While some of this information may seem obvious to you, keep an open mind. You’re likely to gain valuable knowledge from counselors, teachers, and your peers about applying to college. 

And you don’t want to be running into an instance down the line where you do not understand the process to get what you need.

5. Meet With College Representatives When The Opportunities Arise

As always, when opportunities arise to demonstrate your interest in a college – take advantage!

College representatives go on tours by visiting high schools and hosting events in each town. Attend these events. You will walk away with a better understanding of that college and its application requirements. Furthermore, this is a chance to introduce yourself. 

Make sure to keep the college representative’s contact information and follow up with a thank you letter or email afterward. Additionally, you can contact this person with any questions you may have as you enter further into the college admissions process. 

The college admissions process can be draining if you don’t start early and manage your time. Contact Bright Futures for a complimentary consultation and find out how we can help you successfully navigate the entire process. 

6. Plan Your Outfit Ahead Of Time

One thing you’ll learn more and more as you get older, it’s always best to have outfits for important events planned ahead of time. 

Don’t assume the suit you wore to your sister’s wedding last year will work. You’ve likely gotten taller and may need to size up. Plus, do you even know where it is?

Even if your interview is taking place via video, you want to put your best foot forward. And don’t assume you only need to dress nice from the waist up. Imagine if you need to grab something during the meeting, and the interviewer sees your gym shorts under your button down top!

It’s best to always have a nice go-to outfit pre-ironed, hanging in the closet, and ready to be worn. 

7. Research Common College Interview Topics & Questions 

Another tip that comes with experience is to review Google interview topics and questions. This will be helpful for the rest of your life!

But sticking to college interviews, a simple Google search will yield plenty of common questions you can expect. Prepare answers to those questions. Moreover, make a list of pertinent information you want to share. 

8. Practice With Mock Interviews

Mock interviews are extremely helpful when preparing for any meeting. Ask your parents, friends, or even your Bright Futures counselor to ask you questions. 

However, if you can find someone you barely know, that may be the best way to practice. After all, you likely won’t know the person hosting your college interview either.  

It’s also a good idea to practice introducing yourself and talking about your accomplishments and interests in the mirror. The more you practice, the more confidence you will exude. 

9. Be Yourself

There is no one more “you” than you! 

We teach our students to practice self-acceptance because it has proven time and again to be each person’s best tool for success. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Instead, proudly be yourself. 

The Birkman Assessment helps students (and adults) identify their strengths, goals, and interests. Make sure to go over your Birkman report a few days before your interview. Then, look over it once again on the day of your interview.

Reviewing your Birkman will continue to be incredibly helpful throughout your college and post-college life. Just remember, you are an amazing individual, and the world will benefit from your light shining bright. 

10. Write Thank You Notes

As always, be prepared to write a thoughtful, hand-written thank you note. Moreover, make sure to drop the thank you note in the mail as soon as possible after your interview. And if you are able to legibly write in cursive, then we encourage you to do so. 

However, cursive hasn’t been mandatory in most schools in years, so writing clearly is more important than cursive. It’s also a good idea to write out the notes on scrap paper before committing to the thank you card. The allotted space might throw you off, and you don’t want to trash a bunch of nice cards. 

Use Your College Interview To Shine Above The Competition

That’s right. You are in competition with your peers to gain acceptance into your prospective college. While being a wallflower may feel more comfortable some of the time, your interview is an opportunity to truly shine. 

The Bright Futures team is here to help you prepare a killer application and to nail your interview. If you need help with any part of the college admissions process, contact us today!


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Note: This post was originally published on September 7, 2015 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.