Preparing for the Admissions Interview

Many high school students feel nervous when they think about their upcoming college interview. They may wonder what they need to say to come across as exceptional applicants and gain admission to their target school.

However, an applicant’s chances of admission are rarely altered by the admissions interview. A strong interview will not necessarily result in admission, nor will a weak interview necessarily result in denial. Still, the interview can give your child a slight advantage over other applicants.

In this article, we show why an interview may be worthwhile for your child and provide some guidelines on how to approach the interview.

Why Admissions Interviews Matter

If your child chooses to have an alumni or on-campus interview, they should not be anxious about it. Rather than viewing the interview as a vital component of the admissions process, your child should approach it as one more way to showcase their accomplishments. The interview will give your child the valuable opportunity to explain what makes them a unique and compelling candidate.

The admissions interview is also a great way to demonstrate interest, which may be important if your child’s target school evaluates applicants’ level of interest.

Who Conducts Admissions Interviews?

Your child will usually have to choose between an alumni interview, an on-campus interview, or both.

Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are the most common type of admissions interview. Your child will be interviewed by an alumnus with limited training, so the quality of the interview may vary; some alumni are able to clearly explain why an applicant should be admitted, but others are not. Even if the alumni’s interview report is compelling, it will likely be used only if all the other application components are viewed as equal.

Interviews by Admissions Officers

Slots for on-campus interviews are usually limited, and not all applicants will be able to get on the schedule. Early planning is particularly important, so your child should research each college on their list to determine the school’s specific policies. For example, some colleges only conduct on-campus interviews with high school seniors.

If your child can secure an on-campus interview, they will likely be interviewed by a member of the admissions staff. Although many colleges indicate that in-person interviews with admissions staff have no effect on applicants’ chances of being admitted, such interviews can help your child make a real connection with the admissions officer.

What Should Your Child Discuss?

In general, the way your child presents themselves does matter. However, admissions interviews are about substance, not social polish. The substance of your child’s interview must be their academics and the value they will add to a top college’s campus.

Academic Interests

Because your child’s academic record is so important, they should discuss their academic achievements, intellectual curiosity, and ability to handle the rigors of an education at a top-tier school.

Your child also needs to effectively communicate their passion for learning, especially as it relates to their core academic interests. They should speak in concrete terms, mentioning specific subjects, classes, or books that they enjoy the most.

Value and Contribution

While academic topics should take up a significant portion of your child’s interview, your child should also show how they will contribute and add value to the college.

Your child’s discussion of their value should be related to their academic interests. The key is for your child to mention the specific ways in which they plan to get involved in the college’s academic programs and student organizations.

Even though the interview is a comparatively small step of the admissions process, it can help your child stand out. Ivy League Prep is committed to helping your child craft the strongest possible admissions profile. If you’d like to learn more about our services, book an initial consultation.