Top College Interview Questions

Top 13 Questions to Ask in Your Next College Interview

April 5, 2019

What are the top questions to ask in every college interview? Get the best advice and tips right here at College Scoops to ace your college interview. Patrick shares his insight and experience as a former Assistant Director of Admissions on what high school students should ask when heading to their next college interview.

In my life, I have had the opportunity to interview prospective college students in multiple capacities—as a student, as an alumnus, and as an admissions officer. In every one of these settings, the biggest mistake students make is being so laser-focused on preparing their answers to my questions that they forget to ask questions of their own.

College interviews should be a conversation—they’re designed to resemble the interactions that colleges hope will take place between students in the common room and the classroom. Yet in my experience, even the most poised and charismatic students clam up when the tables are turned, and I ask the easiest question yet: Do you have any questions for me?

college interview
Below are the top thirteen questions to ask in your next college interview:
  • Tell me more about the Film Department? Do you know if they focus more on film criticism or film production?

Asking a specific question (rather than a vague “Do you have Film Studies?”) makes it clear that your interest is genuine and suggests you have something to offer the university. It is an open-ended inquiry that will initiate a deeper conversation, not a simple yes or no question that you could have googled.

  • What speakers have been to campus this semester?

A good way to assess if a college is a right fit is whether they have social opportunities that align with your interests. Asking about evening programs like speaker series gives you a sense of the caliber of talent that is visiting campus. It also suggests that you would participate in campus life—a key measure admissions officers use. Questions like these leave room in the conversation for you to express opinions—“Sophia Coppola is one of my favorite directors! Did you see her speak? Have you seen The Bling Ring?”

  • How much time do students spend off-campus? Where are they going?

If location is important to you, make sure to ask. Don’t assume that a rural college has absolutely no life off-campus or that students at a city school are taking advantage of their surroundings. If you have interests—artistic, academic, culinary—be sure to specifically ask about them.

  • Tell me about your favorite professor on campus?

This is a great way to assess the accessibility of faculty. Don’t be afraid to ask admissions officers these questions, even if they didn’t attend the school.

  • What are the core requirements for graduation?

Curricular requirements are crucial to a school’s identity. Ask about what’s required and consider follow-ups like “Four semesters of humanities seems like a lot? What courses do biology majors tend to take?”

  • How did you decide on XYZ university?

Asking about the interviewer’s personal relationship to the school can be very revealing. It’s also just good manners! Once again, don’t be afraid to ask the admissions officer—even employees are drawn to specific things about their university.

  • Do the school’s alumni stay connected with the university?

Rather than asking the potentially off-putting “who are your most famous/ successful alumni?” ask about whether graduates feel connected to their alma mater. An active alumni base suggests that the campus experience is special and that there will be plenty of opportunities to network/ secure jobs and internships. If there are any notable alumni, you can be sure that the interviewer will bring them up.

  • I’ve always been very interested in government work. Are there grants available to subsidize unpaid internships?

When in doubt, ask questions that are direct and tie back to what you might hope to accomplish on their campus. A question about specific opportunities and administrative policies will always be more impressive than blandly asking if they “have internships”—of course they have internships!

  • I’m interested in being pre-med. Would I still be able to study abroad?

Make a list of the things that are important to you in a college campus and use the interview as an opportunity to get answers. Schools are excited by students who are thinking ahead. Plus…if the answer is an unequivocal “no, we don’t have that” then you can easily move along.

  • What is your favorite campus tradition?

Alumni, students, and staff will all be flattered by the opportunity to talk about themselves and their own relationship to the school. Asking about campus life also helps them imagine you on campus.

  • What is the student newspaper like?

Whether it’s the student newspaper, the equestrian team, or Model United Nations, interviewers want to talk about specific programming. Ask about opportunities that tie back to your current resume but don’t be afraid to express interest in things totally outside your comfort zone—that’s part of the point of college!

  • How accessible is the campus administration? Do students have a voice on campus?

Colleges are malleable places that are supposed to shift to reflect the interests of their current students. Asking about the student-staff relationships helps you understand more about the university culture and may lead to an interesting anecdote.

  • Where should I grab a bite to eat?

If the conversation ever stalls out or you run out of things to say—bring it back to food! College Scoops readers know that food is what bonds us all, and your interviewer will have a lot to say…I promise.

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Patrick Meade, Author

Patrick is a former Assistant Director of Admissions at Johns Hopkins University where he recruited students and read applications from all corners of the globe. At Hopkins, he focused on the messaging and marketing of the undergraduate experience—an extension of his senior thesis “An Exploration of Liberal Arts Colleges,” a study of the distinctly American small residential college experience.Patrick is currently a Membership Engagement Associate for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honors society founded by John Adams in 1780 to “convene leaders from every human endeavor” to examine new ideas and address issues of national importance. He designs and implements panels, lectures, receptions, and other programs that provide members with opportunities to connect to each other and the work of the Academy. Patrick graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2014 with a major in English and a minor in Museums and Society. He is an avid sailor and native of Cape Cod, MA.

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