College  |  October 18, 2019  |  Kelly Queijo

Questions to ask in a college interview (and one to avoid)

What you’ll learn
  • What to expect in a college interview
  • Good questions to ask in a college interview

Very few colleges do in-person, one-on-one college interviews, but those that do are usually very selective. So it's okay to be nervous if you have an admissions interview coming up. But try not to be—it’s an interview, not an interrogation.

What is a college interview?

Think of the college interview this way: It’s a conversation. The college, through the interviewer (usually an admissions representative or in some cases, an alum), is taking the time to learn more about you and what you could add to the student body. This is your time to shine!

It’s important to remember that it’s not just about them getting to know you—it’s also a chance for you to ask questions too. Think of this less as the “am I right for the college” grilling and more like an “are we good matches for each other” discussion.

First, though, they’re going to ask a lot of questions, so be prepared to talk about yourself, your passions and strengths, why this particular school is of interest to you, and what you think you’d be able to offer to its community.

After you’ve provided plenty of answers, it’s your turn to ask the questions. Here are 5 questions to ask a college interviewer:

1. A specific question about your major or professor

Don’t walk into your interview without a thorough understanding of the college and the majors or minors you might be interested in, as well as any other resources that interest you, like study abroad or internships.

Read up on the college’s website and social channels, and use that research to form specific questions. Is there a popular professor for your major? What are the classroom spaces like for your classes? Can you double major and still play a sport or study abroad?

2. What is their hidden gem?

Do they have a special place on campus? Where is their favorite spot? Do they have a certain time of day they love campus? Is the breakfast in the dining hall amazing?

Ask them what their “insider tip” is for you, as an incoming freshman, that others might not know or have overlooked.

3. How did they come to love the college?

Whether they’re an admissions professional or representative with the school, there will be something about it they love. Ask what that personal connection is for them. What’s their favorite memory or tradition? What was the moment that made it “their school” for them?

4. What’s the student body like?

They’re trying to determine if you’re a good fit for the college’s student body, but how would they describe it? How has it grown? What clubs and organizations or events did they take part in or are important to the college?

5. Ask something timely

A college or university isn’t all majors and classes. What’s on the college news website? What advancement is going on that’s making headlines? Are sports big on the campus, and is there news about a certain team or championship? What is the university publicizing and what can be brought in as part of your conversation?

The one question you should NEVER ask

Do not, even if you feel a real connection with the interviewer, ask about your chances of getting an offer of admission.

Yes, it’s the elephant in the room, but in reality, this interview is just a part of the admissions decision-making process. Just as you wouldn’t ask “will I get in?” on a campus visit or on your application, don’t think that the interviewer can answer whether you’ll get an offer of acceptance.The one question you should NEVER ask

Just breathe

The college interview isn’t just about them getting to know you—it’s also a chance for you to get to know them. The interviewers are also presenting the “best face” of their college, too. Be positive, and remember, it’s a conversation!

footnote Sallie Mae does not provide, and these materials are not meant to convey financial, tax, or legal advice. Sallie Mae makes no claims about the accuracy or adequacy of this information. These materials may not reflect Sallie Mae’s view or endorsement. Consult your own financial advisor, tax advisor, or attorney about your specific circumstances. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.