25 Common College Interview Questions for Students


Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education



11 min read

25 Common College Interview Questions for Students

Tips for Interview Preparation

Before we get into the types of questions you should expect as a student, let's go over a few things that you need to keep in mind when preparing for your interview.

  • Be truthful

  • Be concise

  • Research

  • Rehearse

  • Plan

It is critical that your responses be truthful and authentic. Consider the interview to be a chat with a potential mentor and colleague. You'd want them to get to know the real you in order to guarantee that you're a good fit and that you can collaborate well in the future. Furthermore, honesty is certainly the best policy. It is the most effective strategy to avoid discrepancies in your responses and ensure that both you and the interviewer have a positive experience.

Personal Questions

Most of the time, interviews start with a series of personal inquiries, such as "tell me about yourself." This is done by the admissions committee to break the ice and ease you into the dialogue. Their goal is to learn about aspects of you that you may not have revealed in your application or extra application essays. These introduction questions also allow you to comment on issues that you may have mentioned in other parts of your application, such as your common app essay.

When addressing this type of question, you should make every effort to develop a story. This is your chance to tell the interviewer about yourself โ€” the person behind the numbers and extracurriculars. Discuss your family, hobbies, and life experiences that shaped you. You should next highlight the exact abilities or knowledge you got from the situation you're describing, and tie it all together with your future at that institution. To put that into context, take a look at the sample questions and answers below:

Tell us about yourself.

Hello, my name is Sarah, and I'm a senior at New Jersey's Millburn High School. I'm quite interested in science and math, and I've been fortunate to have had some wonderful opportunities to pursue those interests. For example, I completed a research internship at MIT this summer, where I worked on a project to create a novel method for producing graphene (Want a research internship as a high schooler? Check out our partner Lumiere Education for affordable opportunities!). It was an incredible opportunity to work with some of the field's greatest academics, and I learned so much about the scientific process and the value of teamwork.

Aside from academics, I'm also a member of our school's debate team and volunteer once a week at a local soup kitchen. I enjoy being able to put my skills and expertise to good use in my community.

Iโ€™m also quite enthusiastic about the possibility to attend college and further my scientific and mathematical interests. I believe [Name of College] is the ideal place for me to do so, and I am excited to share my experiences and learn more about [Name of College].

What book are you currently reading?

Richard Powers' "The Overstory" was the most recent book I read. It's a story about the interconnectivity of all living things, portrayed through the stories of several different characters whose lives are influenced in various ways by trees. I adored it; it's a well written and thought-provoking book.

One thing that really remained with me was how the author interweaved factual information about trees and ecosystems with the characters' personal tales. It truly drove home the point that everything is interconnected and that our actions have far-reaching repercussions. I've always been into environmental justice, so I'm hoping I can tap into [College Name]'s robust activist culture.

What do you do in your spare time?

Rock climbing is one of my favorite pastimes; I've been doing it for about 5 years, and I truly love it. It's a fantastic workout that is also mentally challenging, which I appreciate. Part of the reason why I want to go to [University Name] is because of its commitment to the outdoors and its numerous outing clubs.

I also enjoy music and playing the guitar. I've been playing classical guitar for about 8 years. It's always been a nice way for me to relax, and an opportunity to learn some interesting things about music theory.

What are the areas that you feel you can improve yourself on?

My communication abilities are something I'd like to improve. I'm an introvert by nature, and I find it difficult to speak up in groups. I've been focusing on increasing my confidence and honing my public speaking skills in order to better share my ideas and opinions. This will be especially useful at college, where I'll be meeting new people and participating in group projects and discussions.

Tip: Your answer should focus less on your weaknesses and more on what you're doing to change.

Background Questions

Interviewers may want to discuss your college application, and in particular, parts like your activities section and essays. When appropriate, you should emphasize noteworthy areas of your academic performance, such as awards, special recognitions, or exceptional projects. You should also demonstrate your excitement and drive to the admissions interviewer by outlining your academic goals and how this program will help you accomplish them. For reference, consider the following sample questions and answers:

Tell us about an obstacle that you faced in high school and how you overcame it.

One challenge I had in high school was dealing with my grandmother's death. She was a significant part of my life, and her death devastated me and my family. I was dealing with loss and melancholy, making it difficult for me to concentrate on my studies and extracurricular activities.

To overcome this stumbling block, I decided to seek help from my family, friends, and school counselor. I also began attending a grieving support group, which was really beneficial in providing a safe and supportive environment in which to discuss my feelings and experiences. In addition, I made an effort to prioritize self-care and create realistic goals for myself. This experience taught me the significance of getting help when faced with a challenging situation, as well as the need for self-care.

Personal and Professional Goals Questions

These questions are intended to provide information to the admissions committee about your attitude and motivations. You should expect questions regarding your life ambitions, goals, and motives.

This is when all of the research we recommended will come in handy. For this type of question, you should concentrate on the qualities that the school values. In your response, you should describe at least one attribute that corresponds to what the school is looking for. Make sure you back them up with real instances and offer them in the form of a narrative.

Here is an example of a potential question you may get:

In ten years, where would you like to be living, and what would you like to be doing?

In ten years, I hope to be living in San Francisco and working as a software engineer for a firm at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. I've always been captivated by the potential of technology to address real-world problems and improve people's lives, and I believe San Francisco is the ideal location to be at the forefront of that innovation.

I'm particularly interested in applying my technical skills to projects related to combatting climate change, which I believe is the largest challenge our world is facing. There are tons of exciting applications of AI in the environmental space, and whether it's figuring out ways to optimize our energy usage or building software that can power renewable technology, I'd love to use a potential CS degree from [University Name] to help leave a positive impact on the environment.

International Student Questions

If you are an international student, you may receive more specific questions about your aspirations to study at a North American university. This is a great chance to show your willingness to engage with different cultures and experiences. Here are some example questions you might get:

What is one part of North American culture that you are excited to experience?

The food scene is one aspect of North American culture that I am very eager to explore. Growing up in [Name of Country], I was a huge foodie who enjoyed tasting new and diverse cuisines. I can't wait to eat everything, from seafood chowder on the East Coast to Mexican street food in the Southwest! I'm also curious about the farm-to-table movement and trying locally grown and sourced ingredients. I know the United States and Canada have a great culinary heritage, and I can't wait to learn more about it.

Why have you chosen to study abroad rather than in your home country?

I've chosen to study abroad in the United States because I believe it will provide me with an excellent opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture, learn about the globe, and widen my horizons. Growing up in India, I was always fascinated by American culture and had a strong desire to understand more about it. I'm especially enthusiastic to see the United States' diverse and dynamic culture and to learn more about the country's rich history and political system.

Aside from the personal growth and cultural enrichment that I want to acquire from studying abroad, I believe it is an excellent opportunity to improve my language skills. I speak Hindi fluently and have been studying English for several years, but there is no substitute for immersing oneself in a different language and culture. I believe that being able to effectively communicate in both Hindi and English will be a great asset in my future job as an aspiring diplomat, and I believe that studying abroad in the United States is the best way to achieve that.

I'm also quite enthusiastic about the chance to experience university life in the United States. I've heard that American universities have a good combination of academic and social activities, and I'm excited to join groups and organizations and meet new people from all over the world. I feel that a quality education combined with real-world experience is essential for success, and I am convinced that studying abroad in the United States will offer me with both._

20 Additional International Student Interview Questions to Practice With

  1. Why did you choose X college?

  2. Why did you choose to pursue X discipline?

  3. What were your favorite high school courses?

  4. What other schools did you apply to?

  5. Do you think you will work during studies? Are you applying for a work permit?

  6. Tell me about your family?

  7. What will you miss about your home country the most?

  8. Who had the most influence on your academic interests?

  9. If you've never been outside your country, where would you travel to for a vacation if you had the chance? Why?

  10. If you've travelled outside the country before, which countries have you traveled to?

  11. Tell us about your favorite teacher in high school.

  12. Which aspect of college that intimidates you?

  13. What do you do when you are stressed? How do you handle it?

  14. Who is your role model?

  15. How often do you plan to travel back home during your studies?

  16. How important would you say your grades are?

  17. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you choose? and why?

  18. What current issues have caught your interest?

  19. Tell us about an experience where you showed leadership skills.

  20. What do you hope to learn in your time studying abroad?


College admissions interviews are not required for every school's application process, but if they are, you will need to bring your A-game. Preparation, as with any other interview, is essential. To enhance your chances of success, examine common interview questions and follow the advice we've provided above. Best of luck!

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