college interview

Many colleges and universities recommend that applicants have a college interview; several even require an interview as part of the admission process. As an international student applying to schools in the US from abroad you might be thinking, “Can I interview?” The simple answer is yes. However, let’s get a better understanding of the process and determine if having a college interview is right for you.

What is a college interview?

A college interview is the opportunity for prospective students to discuss their academic and extracurricular interests, accomplishments, and goals with a member of the admissions committee, an alum/na of the college or university or even a current student.

Does every college/university offer interviews?

No. A number of universities, especially those in the Ivy League, require applicants to interview. Several colleges recommend that applicants interview, while others make this opportunity optional. There are also colleges that do not offer interviews at all as part of the admission process. Colleges post information about their interview polices on their admission websites.

Are all interviews the same?

There are two types of college interviews, informational and evaluative.

Informational interviews are those in which the college or university representative wants to communicate more information about their school to you. It is likely these types of interviews are more for the college to let you know what they offer than for you to make an impression. Informational interviews are still important however, as some record/notes taken during your meeting may be added to your file.

During evaluative interviews the college or university representative has the main objective of learning more about you and the contributions you’ll make to the campus community. In most cases, the interviewer will take notes during your meeting and a record of your conversation is added to your file. These tend to be more formal and structured, and are a good opportunity to provide the admissions representative with information about you so they might advocate for you in the admission process.

When and where do college interviews take place?

Many colleges offer interviews throughout the summer and into the fall before students have applied. These interviews may take place on campus, at a coffee shop in your local area, or online via platforms like Skype and WhatsApp. Schedule the interview as soon as you know you are applying to a school because slots fill up quickly. Required interviews usually occur after students have submitted their application.

How do international students schedule an interview?

As there are usually a limited number of on-campus interview slots available, international students are encouraged to meet with admission representatives, whether they are members of the admission staff of alumni interviewers, in their local area. Check the admission webpages for each college for details about scheduling. For colleges that require interviews, arrangements for these meetings will most likely be made after your application is received.

What if I can’t schedule an interview?

Don’t worry. While colleges encourage students to have interviews, their representatives may not be close enough to you to make an interview possible. If this is the case, the absence of an interview will not adversely affect your chances for admission.

Preparation for a college interview is imperative. Be ready to discuss your interests, academics, extracurricular activities, and your personality, as well as why you’ve chosen to apply to the college. An interview is a great way to tell your story and allow an admission committee to get to know you in more depth. The key to a successful interview is practice. Good luck!

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Written by Joy Biscornét
Joy Biscornét is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Joy received her bachelor's degree from Lafayette College. Prior to joining College Coach, Joy worked as a senior admissions officer at Boston College and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Visit our website to learn more about Joy Biscornét.