If you’ve been dreaming of getting accepted into a certain university for years, then making it to application interviews is an exciting, and scary moment.
If you don’t come into the interview with proper preparation, then you could stumble through the interview, damaging your chances of getting accepted.
The following interview tips for university applications have been compiled to offer you the most valuable information to know before and during your interview to leave a lasting, positive impression.
We’ve also included key questions that are often asked, as well as sample answers for you to remember for your interview. Good luck!
23+ College Interview Tips For University Applications & Applicants
Before the meeting: Interview tips for university applications
Preparing for the interview is a key step in the process, as the more you prepare, the less nervous you will feel. There is a lot that you can do before the interview begins.
Take your time to research the school, get clear on the reason why you want to go there, and even practice your interview with another person. The interviewer will surely be able to tell if you are prepared, or just ‘winging it’ on the day.
1. Research the location
Look up the location and if it’s a place you’ve never been before, either visit it at a time before your interview (in case it’s a hard building/office to find) or leave super early before the interview to factor in time potentially getting lost. University interviews are often at the campus, and campuses can be notoriously difficult to navigate.
2. Research the university in detail
Do more than just browse the website. Look for news online about the university, read up on its history, see what advancements it is currently making in different fields. Look at which areas the university is most known for (Arts? Science? Sports?) This gives you a great background knowledge base for talking points if it comes up in the interview.
3. Research the course that you are looking to be accepted into
Consider why you are interested in this course, and what this university has to give that is unique in its offering of the course. One of the questions they may ask you is ‘why are you interested in studying this course at our university?’
4. Prepare yourself for common questions (see below)
Be prepared to answer specific questions that are most common in university interviews. Read to the bottom of the article to see sample answers for key questions.
5. Be ready to ask questions
If you show your confidence by asking the interviewer questions, you’ll come across as an interested and engaged candidate who thinks for themselves. This is a key quality that university admissions interviewers are looking for.
6. Be very familiar with your application essay/personal statement.
This would have been in your written application, and there is a chance that your interviewer will invite space to elaborate on what you wrote. If it was a while ago that you wrote it, best to read it over and re-familiarize yourself with it before the interview.
7. Practice the interview
If you can do a ‘mock interview’ with a friend, family member, or even better – a teacher – that would give you great insight into how you’ll perform.
During the interview tips for university applications
These are some top things to remember in your college interview in terms of how you answer questions and express yourself. The way you present yourself and how you speak could be the deciding factor in the admissions interviewer’s choice. Know that first impressions count.
8. On-time is late
Arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Any later and it is considered that you are ‘late.’ Rule of thumb for interviewing for anything is ‘on-time is late’ and ‘early is on-time.’
9. Correct body language
Have open body language (don’t cross your arms) and use hand gestures. Being animated and relaxed in the way that you talk will show that you are comfortable in your expression and you will be more ‘ likable.’
It sounds simple, yes, but a smile can go a long way in the impression you’re making in your interview. Showing that you’re a positive and happy person in any situation is a great way to be memorable and to develop a rapport with the interviewer.
11. Be calmly confident
Sometimes people confuse being confident with being over-the-top, making them come across as arrogant. When you are asked to share your strengths or your accomplishments, remember that you don’t need to brag or convince them of your amazingness.
Just trust in your ability and have confidence that this will show with what you are saying. The most confident people are not the ones shouting over the rooftops how incredible they are.
Key questions and sample answers
Including these sample questions and answers in our college interview tips for university applications will give you a leg up over the competition. Exploring the most common questions that come up will allow you to practice answering them before the interview.
12. Question: ‘Why are you interested in this university?’
Answer: I’ve known about [university name] for a while now in my research over the years about top programs in [course name]. From what I read, as well as information from those that have graduated from your school, I am convinced that this is the best place I can choose to study [course name].
Bonus Tip: This is where your research of the school comes in handy, as you can list off their accolades here.
13. Question: ‘What attracts you to this [course name] degree?’
Answer: ‘I developed a passion for [subject] early on in my schooling, and as this industry continues to advance, I want to learn all I need to know to enter this career being at the forefront of its innovation.’
Bonus Tip: Speak not only about why you like this subject but also how you see your degree giving you the value needed to excel in this career.
14. Question: ‘What are your strengths in academics?’
Answer: ‘I pride myself on my organization skills, particularly time management. I found that juggling multiple subjects and deadlines in my last years of high school was something that I was naturally good at, and often had my peers asking for study scheduling advice. When I am organized, I can learn with much more ease.’
15. Question: ‘If you could have changed one thing about high school, what would it have been?’
Answer: ‘It would have been longer class times for some subjects. I felt some sessions begin to go deep into a particular subject, only to finish with the times being just 45 minutes to 1 hour per class. I find that when I study myself, I can go much deeper when I devote a lot of time to one subject.’
Questions to ask the interviewer
Getting the chance to ask the interviewer questions will benefit not only you to get some questions answered, but to the impression, you’re giving the interviewer, as you show your seriousness about this course by the type of questions you ask. Here are 3 examples of questions that show you are a quality candidate.
16. ‘What qualities do you see in the most successful students?’
17. ‘How do you see this university evolving in the next few years?’
18. ‘What are you most proud of in working for this university?’
More interview tips for university applications
Below is a short summary of some key points to remember, though the details in the body of the article provide a more comprehensive offering of valuable information to help you prepare for your interview.
19. Arrive at the interview prepared – research, practice, be familiar with your answers to common questions.
20. Have open body language and a positive demeanor. Don’t forget to smile!
21. Read over the list of common interview questions that may be asked so you’re familiar with some answers that you can use.
22. Think about some questions you want to ask the interviewer to get some valuable information and to further show that you are engaged and thoughtful about your application.
23. When waiting for the decision to be made, relax and now that you did the best you could do – the rest is in their hands!
To learn more, check out my post on the best interview tips for teens if you are also looking for a job while at college!