How to prep for your college interview: 5 tips to help you succeed

December 15, 2022

5 min read

How to prep for your college interview: 5 tips to help you succeed

College interviews are an extremely stressful part of the college application process. Many high-schoolers, including me, lost sleep cramming for these interviews. However, these interviews aren’t nearly as scary as they appear to be at first.

Let’s delve right into tips that will help you leave an impression on your college admissions committee! 

5 tips to succeed in your college interview

  1. Give Mock Interviews

One of the best ways to prepare for these college interviews is by practicing sample questions. According to Forbes, mock interviews are very helpful in preparation for these interviews. Try getting friends or family to ask you a few questions before the interview like:

  • What attracts you to this college?
  • What do you want to major in? Why?
  • How would your friends describe you?

Answering these questions will get your thoughts rolling and get feedback from your peers. This will give you a good base to work on and engage in meaningful conversation with your college interviewer. 

  1. Practice Common College Interview Questions

Your interviewer will likely ask you a few obvious questions. Practicing responses to these will help you make your answer precise and interesting. Here is a more exhaustive list of common college interview questions for you to practice with links that have tips on how to answer them!

Record yourself and listen to your answer on Yoodli! Yoodli’s AI-backed speech coach can help you identify areas of your speech that need improving and also help you reduce filler words. You can also assess your body language, the amount of eye contact you’re making, and self-evaluate your performance. 

  1. Research Campus Life In The College

Colleges want to believe they’re your top choice, and that you’re genuinely interested in them and will enroll if offered admission. Many colleges use demonstrated interest as a factor in the admissions process. Therefore, it is vital that you research these universities before your interview. They must get the sense that they are perfect for you in addition to you being perfect for them. Here is a list of things you can research about the college before your interview to show genuine interest:

  • Mission of the college and how it resonates with you.
  • Campus size, both in size and student population, and how it fits with your personality.
  • Faculty research projects that interest you.
  • Clubs and Organisations at the college that interest you.
  • Think about things like racial diversity, weather, location, etc. that might attract you to the college.
  • Courses offered at the college that you want to take.
  • Pay the college a visit if you can, and talk about your experience visiting the campus.

According to US News, 13.7% out of the surveyed colleges in a report rated demonstrated interest as considerably important while 25.5% said that it was moderately important. This is testament to the fact that researching these universities thoroughly is essential and a well-informed interviewee will definitely stand out.

  1. Be Authentical In Your College Interview

It’s cliche (we know!), but it cannot be stressed enough. It is common for high school students to get lost in the process of projecting themselves to be perfect. “What is your favorite book?” is a common question. Remember to stay concise while demonstrating your curiosity.

Here’s what you should NOT pick: 

  • Works that you were obviously assigned in class: Part of this question is to see what you read outside of class. If you name To Kill a Mockingbird or Hamlet, you’ll sound as if you’ve never read anything but assigned books.
  • Juvenile fiction: You don’t need to hide your love of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Redwall books, but these works are also loved by kids much younger than you. You’d do better to recommend a book that is more in line with a college-level reader.
  • Works chosen simply to impress: Let’s be honest, James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” is not your favorite book. College interviewers are human, and they have likely been through this exact same process. They know the tendency of high schoolers to pick works purely to impress. 

Here’s what you SHOULD pick: 

  • Pick a book that you sincerely love and that you are comfortable talking about.
  • Pick a book with enough substance to it so that you can explain why you like the book.
  • Pick a book that is at an appropriate reading level; something that is a huge hit among fourth-graders is probably not your best choice.
  • Pick a book that gives the interviewer a window into your interests and passions.
  1. Go To Your College Interview With A Professional Body Language

As much as this interview is meant to be a casual conversation to get to know you, you must not lose sight of the fact that it is still an evaluative interview. Professional body language makes an impression – from wearing semi-formal or formal outfits, to maintaining eye-contact and speaking confidently. You do not want to come across as extremely nervous, nor do you want to come across as lethargic and lazy. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind before your college interview: 

  • Maintain strong eye-contact with your interviewer: This will help you come across as someone who is confident in their own abilities. Yoodli’s record speech feature will allow you to access statistics such as eye-contact time percentage, and improve!
  • DO NOT wear casual clothes: Please do not show up for your interview in shorts and a round neck! While you certainly do not need a suit, wearing a semi-formal outfit is helpful
  • Speak slowly and calmly: Do not appear to be in a rush to speak. You may sound over-rehearsed, and this might be ticking off. Pause while speaking and avoid filler words. You can record your answers and upload them on Yoodli here, and track your pause times, filler words, and pace variation to help you improve!

Tying up the loose ends

Please remember that college interviews are not the end of your life! These are just a part of the application process and a bad interview does NOT kill your chances of admission. Alternatively, however, a really stellar interview shall also not make up for your lack of test scores or activities. These interviews are meant to get to know you better, and put a face on your resume. Nevertheless, the concern around interviews is valid, and hopefully these tips will help take away some of it.

What’s next?

Now that you know what you have to do, you can get cracking with your interview prep and practice your answers on Yoodli. Record yourself answering the questions, and listen in without the pressure of an interviewer, peer or family member! Use Yoodli’s transcription tool to make sure what you’re saying is clear and understandable. Lastly, just remember to be calm and go for the interview with a clear mind. Don’t overthink! We believe in you.