Do Interviews Help Your College Admissions?

College interview

The thought of going to university or college is very exciting and thrilling. But then comes the invitation for college interviews and you might start questioning the importance that these interviews hold during admissions. So, if you have asked yourself “Do interviews help in college admissions?” you are at the perfect place!

College interviews are interactions or conversations between prospective students and the college faculty or seniors. It is a part of the admission process and helps gauge the student’s interest in joining the course and the specific university. 

Now while college interviews have been around for a long time. You might be wondering whether these college interviews hold any meaning in today’s time.

Are college interviews still a thing?

College interviews are still very much a thing.

Prior to the pandemic, the interviews were conducted in person. However, with the wide adoption of virtual platforms, college interviews have moved online. 

Many colleges also offer a choice to students. This means that the student has the liberty to choose either a virtual or in-person interview. However, these policies are different at different colleges. So it is advisable to make sure that you’ve read the college’s interview guidelines properly before signing up for the college form.

Are college interviews a good sign?

Getting a college interview is a good sign as it means that your candidature is under consideration. What this means is that by conducting the interview, the college might try to understand a few aspects that your application or SOP can not answer.

The calls for college interviews are often sent across once the college is done with its initial filtering process. So it can be seen as a good sign. However, getting an interview in itself doesn’t guarantee that you will get into college.

Simply put, these interviews help in college admissions but don’t guarantee anything.

Do all college applicants get an interview?

Most of the colleges filter a few candidates in the first round post and the interview calls are sent to the remaining candidates. This makes college interviews important as not all applicants get an interview.

However, there are exceptions here as well. Some colleges like Oxford offer all candidates’ interviews, which are mandatory.

On the other hand, most of the optional interviews are offered to all the applicants.

So do all colleges have interviews?

Many colleges conduct interviews as a part of their college admissions process but not all of them.

In some colleges, these interviews are mandatory while in others they may be optional. For optional interviews, you can choose to opt out of the interview, and it will in no way affect your candidature.

In yet other colleges, no such interviews are held during the admission process. The students in these colleges are admitted straight to the course depending on alternative factors. These factors would include your GPA, extracurricular activities, active participation in school or undergraduate university, internships or work experience, and more depending on the college requirements. 

How do college interviews work?

The process of college interviews can be very different depending upon the colleges you are applying to and the type of interviews that they conduct.

Usually, college interviews are of two types, Evaluative and Informational.

Evaluative interviews 

Evaluative interview

An evaluative interview is often part of colleges that make interviews mandatory or “highly” recommend them. These interviews directly help in college admissions.

Evaluative interviews are often conducted to assess your candidature. This means that through the interview, the college would try to understand your personality and whether it will be a right fit for the college culture. They will try to gauge your interest in joining the college by asking you questions about the course or the college. 

The interviewer would try to assess your strengths, weaknesses, and goals through engaging conversations rather than simply bombarding you with questions. So in terms of the type of questions asked there isn’t much to worry about.

However, there is some form of weightage given to these college interviews in the admission process. Hence, it is advisable to not take them lightly.

Evaluative interviews are a part of the admission process at Harvard and other ivy Leagues, Hamilton, and Wesleyan College

Informational interviews 

Informational interview

Informational interviews are often optional and are conducted with the sole purpose of answering all the questions that the student might have about the course or university. 

They are more candid and less formal. The idea is to understand your strengths, motivating factors, and goals to see if the college can help you in reaching where you want to be. It is a way to help you evaluate whether the college is the right fit for you. 

Informational interviews help in college admissions by giving the students a choice to understand and select the right college.

In most informational interviews, the interviewers do not share a report with the admission officers.

A couple of colleges where the admission interviews are purely informational are Cornel, Colby, and Vassar

Check out the list of colleges and their interview requirements here.

In either case, the interviews might be a little longer than you expect. 

How long do college interviews last?

According to the general rule of thumb, college interviews can take up anywhere between 30 mins to 1 hour of your time. 

While it is often believed that longer interviews are a positive sign of making it to the next stage in the process, we recommend you to not fall into the trap of believing in anything unless it is communicated to you by the college. 

In short, you can expect the interview to be in-person or online depending on the college policies. And the nature of the interview too would depend on the requirements of the colleges. 

This brings us to finally understanding the importance of college interviews.

Are college interviews important?

College interviews are important. However, in most cases, they won’t be the sole reason anyone gets rejected from their desired university. College interviews barely account for 5% of the final decision to select a student. 

But again, in colleges where interviews are mandatory or “highly recommended,” the weightage given to interviews may be more. For instance, Duke university makes it very clear that interviews account for 1/6th of the candidate’s final assessment, in which case, these interviews become very important. 

This brings us to the next question. 

Can a college interview hurt your chances of getting through?

College interviews help in college admissions more than hurt your chances of doing so.

In fact, at times opting for interviews can help you bridge the gap that your test scores or GPAs can’t. You would be doing that by demonstrating your sheer interest in being a part of the college through the way you carry yourself and answer the questions. The relevancy of your questions too would make it easier for the interviewer to gauge your interest in the course or college. 

It is also an excellent opportunity to meet with people who are or have been directly associated with the colleges you plan on joining. They can give you a better idea about things that a google search might not be able to help you out with. 

Lastly, most of the interviewers try to assess your ability to communicate effectively with others through these college interviews. While they might also try to understand whether you will be able to fit into the college culture and other factors, communication skills are at the heart of all college interviews. 

Feel free to contact one of our communication coaches at Frantically Speaking to work on your communication skills and enhance your chances of getting into your desired college.

How do you ace a college interview?

Successful college interview

Practice and confidence are the keys to acing any interviews. There are a couple of things you can keep in mind while preparing for college interviews to increase your chances of making it into the college of your choice. 

1. Research

Preparing for college interviews isn’t a one-day thing. You will have to take out a couple of days if you want to ace your interview. 

Now if you have asked yourself “ how do I prepare for a college interview?” Here are quick tips that you can follow:

a. Research about the course you have applied to

Before your interview, make sure you go through their course brochure thoroughly. Try to understand the subjects that you’ll be studying and the faculties who will be teaching you. Also, try to find any unique thing about the course that stands out to you. It could be something that the other colleges aren’t offering like a specific minor or a particular faculty member who inspires you the most. 

All these points can help you in coming up with answers that would show your dedication and interest to join the course and college. 

b. Research about the university or college

Yet another thing you’ll have to research is the college or university you are applying to. Try to see if the college has received any awards recently. You can also try to list down all the famous alumni of the college whom you follow. 

c. Thoroughly understand the position of your interviewer

If you are provided with the details of your interviewer, make sure to try and understand their position before going for the interview. You can also check out any books they might have published or if they have any podcasts or channels through which you have gained information. Pointing these out in your answers gives the interviewer an idea of your level of preparation for the interview and would make you stand out. 

2. Prepare your answers 

Some questions are universal and can be asked in any interview. In fact, questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Tell me about your weaknesses and strengths” are very common in almost all interviews. 

Being prepared for these commonly asked questions will help you gain confidence before the interview in terms of your preparation and during the interview as well. 

Here is a list of common questions:

  • Tell us something about yourself
  • What are some of your major strengths?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges you had to face?
  • How would your friend describe you?
  • Tell us about a time you did something you were proud of.

Check out a list of all commonly asked interview questions here.

3. Be confident and polite

It is ideal to show your confidence during the interview. However, when we exceed our level of confidence, that overconfidence can easily be misinterpreted as arrogance. And arrogance isn’t a trait that anyone appreciates in the other person, let alone a prospective student of the college. 

4. Be on time

Arriving late for your interview would set a  bad impression in front of your interviewer. It would also show your lack of interest in joining the college. It can also be interpreted as having poor time management skills and irresponsible behavior on your end.

To avoid that, try to reach the campus at least 20 minutes before your interview. And if the interview is online, you can try to join the room 5 minutes before the interview begins to avoid wasting anyone’s time. 

Now that we know how you can ace your college interview, here is a list of things you need to keep a check on to not lose out on your chance of getting through the interview successfully.

How do you fail a college interview?

Stressed out person

A couple of things that end up being a barrier when it comes to college interviews are:

1. Lack of research

It is very important to research thoroughly about the university, the course offered, and other similar courses to come up with a good pitch. 

Lack of research is often evident in the quality of your answers. Research can help you come up with your own version of answers. And thus it helps you move beyond the generic answers that the interviewer has probably heard a million times before.

2. Psyching yourself out

Imagine being completely prepared for the interview and yet messing it up.

That is exactly what we all end up doing when we overthink every aspect of the interview.

Once you are done preparing for the interview, take some time out to just be. Avoid thinking about all the places where you could go wrong as those thoughts don’t serve you well. You can try meditating or talking to someone if you feel like you’ve almost psyched yourself.

3. Saying things you shouldn’t 

One thing that can very easily ruin your chances of getting into your dream college is saying the things you shouldn’t.

Being open during the interviews is okay, but being extremely frank about things isn’t. At the end of the day no matter what type of interview the college conducts, it is still an interview.

Hence, it is extremely important to maintain some decorum.

Let’s assume the interviewer asks you the reason you plan on joining the college, here are a couple of inappropriate responses:

  • I have been waitlisted in the college I want to get into and this one was a close second. That is the reason why I am here!
  • I don’t want to move out of the town and this is the only college here.
  • I want to get into this college as all my friends are studying here too.
  • It is a highly reputed college, who would not want to be a part of such a prestigious and big brand?

4. Lack of preparation

College interviews are all about you, the student. This fact can also make you a little more lenient in terms of your overall preparation for the interview.

We might feel that the interview is no big deal because anyone can talk about themselves, right?

Sadly nope!

It is a very different thing to talk about yourself and your achievements in a friendly conversation versus in an interview.

We highly recommend you practice your answers a couple of times before the interview. Also, make sure to keep a check on your body language. This is because your body language can give the interviewer quite a lot of information.

Now that you have a tad bit of an idea as to the things you should and shouldn’t do in terms of college interviews, it is time to understand how you can actually give your college interview.

Questions you might still have:

How do you know if you are a top candidate?

The only way to know that you are the top candidate is when the college communicates it with you.

There is no definition of a top candidate for college interviews. All you can do is give your level best.

Be thoroughly prepared for the interview, dress appropriately, show up on time and have all your documents in place before the interview. During the interview make sure to speak confidently and keep a check on your body language. Also, make sure that you speak clearly. Avoid talking too fast or using a lot of filler words. Acing all of these things would require enough practice from your end.

Check out the video below if you want to work on slowing down your pace of speaking for the interview:

Do internships help with college applications?

Internships definitely help with college applications.

Often candidates applying for colleges do not have any experience in hand so having one would make you stand out. However, colleges appreciate authentic internships only. Being a part of your parent’s firm or saying starting a small business for summer and calling yourself a founder may not make the cut.

But you can still choose to highlight things that you’ve learned from these experiences while applying to the college if you feel that will give you an upper hand.

To conclude

When you ask yourself “Do interviews help in college admissions?” The answer is yes. To some extent, college interviews help in admissions. However, in most cases, they do not make or break your chance of getting into college.

It is merely a way to understand whether you’ll be able to fit into the college culture and gauge your communication skills.

Depending upon the college policies, the interviews may be mandatory or optional. Further, they can be evaluative or informational.

Although the importance given to college interviews has been dwindling, we recommend you to give your level best in this interview as it will enhance your chances of getting into college. Further, it will give out the right impression about you to your evaluators.

Lastly, do not stress out about the interviews. Think of it as an interaction wherein you are trying to understand whether the college is the right fit for you or not.

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