Good Questions to Ask during your College Interview

December 10, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Good Questions to Ask during your College Interview

If you’ve already started thinking about your college interview, you’re probably concentrating on the questions that will be asked of you and how you should respond to those questions in a natural and informative manner. But have you thought about asking “What are good questions to ask in a college interview?”

It’s possible that you’ve already read our most recent articles about preparing for interviews at UPenn,  UChicago, and Columbia. However, a good interview is more like a discussion than an interrogation, especially when it is conducted with a college admissions officer or a college alumnus.

Speaking of admissions officers and college alumni, this post brings a fresher take to our already comprehensive article Good Questions to Ask a College Interviewer as it suggests a targeted set of questions. At the end of this blog, we want you to appear observant, whether it be infront of a college admissions officer or an alumnus.

What is a College Interview?

What exactly is involved in a college interview? The talk that takes place during a college interview may take place with a member of the college admissions staff or with a recent alumnus of the institution being considered. Because it takes place on campus, typically in the admissions office, the first type of interview is frequently referred to as an on-campus interview. The second type of interview is frequently referred to as an off-campus or alumni interview for reasons that are equally as evident.

It is essential that you be aware of the kind of interview that you will be taking part in, as the questions that you ask should vary according to the person who will be conducting the interview. Alumni, on the other hand, maybe better equipped to speak about their own experiences and provide greater insight into specific programs and new efforts at the university. For instance, an admissions representative will have more knowledge about certain programs and new initiatives at the university.

Two women talking on a table.

The interview procedure varies from institution to institution. At some schools, you will be able to sign up for the program either while you are completing the application process or soon after you have completed the application.

For the remaining schools, including those in the Ivy League, the admissions offices will get in touch with you when they receive your application to schedule an interview. Because of the large number of applications that other schools receive, many choose not to conduct any interviews at all.

What Should You Expect in a College Interview?

What kind of questions will you be asked at the college interview? There are certain schools that do not include interviews as part of their admissions process; however, if the school that you are considering does include interviews, you should not avoid them. Even if they are merely ‘suggested, but not necessary, they are still important. It could be the deciding factor in whether you or another student is admitted to the college of your choice.

They will ask you why you are interested in the school, about your experience in high school, about your academic interests, about your ambitions in education, about your future professional plans, about your hobbies, and about other aspects of you.

a group of female college students carrying their notebooks while walking; one of them is looking at the camera smiling

Another important facet to consider, which we think a lot of applicants miss, is the interview being a 2-way street. College admissions interviewers expect you to demonstrate your genuine interest, create a positive first impression, and gain further knowledge about the school. What better way to demonstrate this than by throwing good questions to ask in a college interview?

What are good questions to ask in a college interview?

What are some good questions to ask a potential student during an interview for college? It is important to note that part of your preparation is to be strategic in your interview approach because these interviews are often conducted by a representative of the educational institution, who may be a current or former member of the teaching staff.

However, in the case of transfer applicants, some universities like UPenn do not offer alumni interviews.  But regardless, ask questions that are relevant to them, and to a certain extent, make them smile.

In this section, we will be more intentional in sharing tips as we will enumerate questions fit for an alumnus and a college admissions officer.

What are good questions to ask from an alumnus?

What are some good questions to ask someone who has graduated from the institution? For questions addressed to an alumnus, the approach is to make them reminisce about the wonderful years they have spent at the university they wish to enter.

What was your experience like?

Who were the teachers who influenced them? To what extent did they participate in Greek life? Why shouldn’t they? How did they feel about the meals in the cafeteria and their housemates during their freshman year? The responses of your interviewer will provide you with insight into who they are as individuals and, potentially, what you can anticipate from daily life at their institution.

Group of students standing next to a building.

What did you love most about your college that you think other colleges may not offer?

These responses can be of tremendous assistance to you if you are giving serious consideration to attending more than one school. It is important to get perspectives from a wide variety of people, and you can only achieve this by introducing good questions to ask in a college interview, on top of asking this to a good number of people.

The opinions of alumni on the ways in which a college separates itself from its competitors. It may be completely different from what the marketing material would have you believe.

What would you have done differently?

It’s possible that they would have been happier if they hadn’t moved out of the dorms and into an apartment the previous year, or if they had participated in extracurricular activities that were more challenging for them. It’s possible that they would have been better off taking the low-paying internship in their industry during the summer rather than the high-paying factory job (or vice versa).

Even if you simply hear a few “be ye not so stupid as me” recommendations, it might be really beneficial to hear them. It is obvious that everyone makes their own unique blunders.

What’s an iconic tradition that every student must try?

The interviewer will be able to tell whether or not you are truly enthused about the prospect of being an active member of the school community based on how you respond to this question and how you choose to answer it. This is one of the good questions to ask in a college interview that you don’t want to miss.

Traditions at the school and the way in which students participate in those traditions reveal a great deal about the culture of the campus. And despite the fact that each person’s experience is unique, the use of the word “iconic” indicates that the person you are interviewing is likely to tell you about something that is essential to the student experience as a whole.

What do you wish you’d known as a freshman?

A more profound way of asking this question is: What guidance would you offer to a student who is beginning their first year at? Is there anything about your time at [school] that you look back on and wish you’d handled differently? There is no such thing as receiving an excessive amount of individualized guidance from a graduate, and the answer to this question is very likely to give some particularly helpful pointers.

Even if the advice doesn’t seem to directly apply to you, you should nonetheless find a way to convey that you value their counsel by making some sense of it.

What are good questions to ask a college admissions officer?

What are the good questions to ask in a college interview that would be appropriate to ask from someone who is working in admissions? For questions addressed to a school representative who is not an alumnus, the approach is to make them feel they’re in a position to give fair statements about the university they work for. They do not have sentimental memories to share, but they sure make it up by representing the university through a more professional, straightforward tone.

a female student staring at her laptop

What makes students at your university different?

Is there a significant amount of political engagement among the student body at this school? Very, very committed to their academic pursuits? Are you more likely than average to attend school in another country? More enterprising than you are typically? Discovering the ways in which the population of this school is distinct from that of others will assist you in determining whether or not it would be a suitable fit for you.

What’s something that makes you really proud to work for this university?

Perhaps they feel that the institution’s dedication to ensuring a diverse workforce is something to be proud of. Perhaps they take satisfaction in the accomplishments of the football team or the recent discoveries made in the Psychology department’s research.

In your opinion, what are the character traits of a student who’d do really well here?

If you know yourself well enough to comprehend the characteristics that make up your own personality, the responses that the interviewer gives will be most valuable to you, regardless of how they react.

What are the benefits of preparing questions for college interviews?

What are the advantages of practicing good questions to ask in college interviews beforehand? We can’t stress enough during the interview process, you will not only be interviewed by the school, but you will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the school. It is necessary that both sides feel comfortable with the arrangement. Having questions prepared in advance brings with it a plethora of benefits, including the following:

It shows initiative

During an interview, if you go above and beyond what is expected of you, the interviewer will see that you are willing to put in the necessary preparation time before the interview. You don’t require me to prompt you, and you didn’t show up without any preparation. This is a quality that schools look for in prospective students.

It shows interest

You are demonstrating a particularly strong interest in the institution, as well as going above and beyond simply “appearing” for your interview, when you take the time to ask questions. The fact that you are taking the time to ask them questions shows that you are serious about making sure that this college is the right choice for you.

It shows you did research

You can demonstrate to the person conducting the interview that you are interested in the school very seriously by asking detailed questions. By conducting research in advance and inquiring about particular campus groups, organizations, or events that are currently taking place, you have taken the additional step of coming to the interview prepared.

Unidentified person typing on a table.

Because of this, you should avoid asking “basic questions,” as colleges will likely have the answers to these “simple inquiries” posted on their websites. Therefore, asking questions that are quite precise demonstrates to them that you have truly done more than just skim the surface of the institution that you are interested in attending.

What are questions that should never be asked in a college interview?

What are some questions that you should never ask a prospective college student during an interview? This is quite the opposite of good questions to ask in a college interview. Don’t get us wrong. There are certainly no wrong questions. Everything is relative in a college admission interview.

But in our experience, contextual meanings matter a lot. There are, for a lack of a better term, ‘courtesies’ that we need to consider.  So far, these are the 2 questions that we often hear from our clients, and right off the bat, we strongly advise them to bury, and forget about it.

What are my chances of being accepted into this school?

Keep in mind that the decision to make an offer may not be finalized regardless of how certain you are that lady luck is on your side. This is something that you should always keep in mind.

Instead: Inquire about the students who are currently enrolled in the institution. What are their credentials and experience? What steps can you take to get yourself ready for the first day of school? Demonstrate that you are eager to become an integral part of the student body and to contribute to its success.

What makes your school better than other schools?

Do not engage in conversations or ask questions that put down other universities, even those that are in competition with your own. It’s a compelling way to build rapport by getting to know each other better through “the competition.”

However, these conversations will, at best, make admissions officers raise an eyebrow, and at worst, they will hurt your chances of being accepted into the college of your choice.

Instead: Make sure that the university, its programs, and the traditions that it preserves are the primary focus of your questions.

Final thoughts

During your interview, you will have the opportunity to engage in friendly conversation, think about your experiences during high school, and research various colleges. You can rest assured that you will have a positive experience with the college interview so long as you adequately prepare for it. Share the good questions to ask in college interviews and go into it feeling confident and optimistic.

Now, if you need further assistance in the admissions process, teaming up with AdmissionSight would be the perfect answer for that. We are an industry-leading college admissions consultant with more than a decade of expertise assisting individuals just like you in gaining admission to the prestigious educational institutions of their choice. Contact us right away to set up a no-cost consultation.

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