What Kinds of College Interviews Are There?

Do you remember your first job interview? Multiply the anxiety you felt then by ten, and you’ve got a sense of how your student is probably feeling about the prospect of their first college interview.

While college applications certainly comprise the bulk of the college application process, many schools request or require that students participate in a live (virtual or in-person) interview as well.

Interviews are used in vastly different ways depending on a college’s specific process, so there is no standard for evaluating what getting an interview means or how performance in an interview may impact a student’s chances of admission.

In general, interviews aren’t a core piece of the application, instead serving as a verification of sorts. However, there are no hard and fast rules. While in most cases, an interview may carry little weight, in some cases, it could be a deciding factor in determining whether a school accepts a particular student.

But you can help your student overcome interview jitters by walking them through the basics of the college interviewing process.

There are four main types of college interviews that students may be invited to:

  • Informational Interviews. Many colleges will arrange these for students when they visit their campus. As the name indicates, these are purely informational, but your student can still prepare and make a good impression.
  • Student Interviews. Admissions offices may employ current students to interview applicants. These interviews are casual but can be important. Some student interviewers attend and even participate in admissions committee meetings, so students should put their best foot forward.
  • Admissions Officer Interviews. Admissions officers will not make a decision about admission immediately after an interview; instead, they write up a summary and add it to your student’s file. But if your student makes a good impression, the admissions officer may advocate for them, so these interviews can be important.
  • Alumni Interviews. The most common type of interview, alumni interviews are conducted by former students who currently live in your city or region. They’ll have a form with some basic questions and a space for a summary report to send back to the college, but each interviewer will have their own interview style.

In our next post, we’ll look at some techniques that your student can use to prepare for their college interviews. Stay tuned!

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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