Ivy League Admission Tips: How to Approach Your College Interviews

You’ll want to make the best possible impression during your college interviews, so you need to conduct yourself in an engaging, professional way. The following Ivy League admission strategies will help you impress your interviewers and gain admission to your top-choice schools.

Be Engaged

You need to show engagement throughout the entire interview. This means that you should make eye contact, politely greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, listen carefully, and avoid distractions. Also, consider bringing your résumé (with a copy for the interviewer) and some notes to help keep you focused.

Be Professional

You need to present yourself as a mature, professional applicant. Therefore, do your best to be polite, show respect, speak clearly, and give the interviewer your undivided attention (be especially careful not to glance at your phone). Avoid interrupting the interviewer and do not appear eager to be done with the interview.

Think Before Answering

When you are asked a question, pause and think before answering. Try to develop your unique narrative throughout the interview; give answers that naturally tie in with your story. Instead of saying whatever comes to mind, make sure to share the information that is most relevant to your personal application theme and narrative.

Explain the Why

One of the most important strategies to keep in mind is to explain the why behind the what. All of the topics you’ll discuss in your interview—your courses, interests, activities, and college plans—will lose their significance if they fail to tell your story. Therefore, you must explain the why behind your activities and accomplishments.

However, try to go beyond the why of your admissions profile; also explain why you are interested in the interviewer’s school and how that college will help you achieve your career and academic goals. Doing so will prove that you will be a valuable asset to the school.

Express Interest in the College

Even if the college in question is not your first pick, you should indicate that you will likely attend if you are admitted. This might raise questions about whether you are planning to apply early decision. If the application deadline has passed, then the interviewer might ask why you did not apply early decision or early action. Be ready to give an honest answer. For example, you can explain that your application was not ready by the deadline. Still, take care not to suggest that you applied early decision or early action to another college.

Demonstrate Substance

You should be well-prepared and present yourself in a polished manner while keeping substance in mind. Admissions interviewers can see through shallow applicants regardless of their confidence, charisma, or communication skills. The reverse is also true—interviewers are typically able to recognize an applicant’s substance even if the latter is shy or reserved.

Save Questions for the End

Save your questions for the end of the interview. Remember, the admissions interview is an opportunity for you to take a single-sentence question and provide a deep, expansive answer. Instead of breaking the flow of your narrative, stay focused on showing why you are a compelling applicant.

When the time comes to ask questions, you need to have at least four or five. Do some preliminary research about the college and ask questions that cannot be easily answered by checking its website. For example, you might want to ask about the strengths and availability of the college’s faculty. Alternatively, you could inquire about campus social life, interesting events, or unique opportunities—anything that won’t readily be found online but that will give you a taste of what the college has to offer.

Preparing for the college interview is just one of the many steps in the competitive college admissions process. Learn more about Ivy League Prep’s complete guidance programs and find out how we help our clients gain admission to top schools.