Student Advice on College Interviews

September 20, 2016

When students think about college applications, there’s a natural list of things they all start stressing about: college research, financial aid, college essays, recommendations, and college interviews.

Each element of the application may not be equally important, but they should all combine to make the most compelling application. One of the elements that is regarded with less importance is the college interview. Not every university conducts alumni interviews, and not every applicant will receive on either. So, don’t let this be a top concern of yours. In fact, they are usually very human conversations, and a chance for you to find out more about the university you applied and the alumni network. Take it from these students at Brown, Yale, Middlebury, Stanford and Georgetown who went through the application season just last year!


Yale University ‘20

I interviewed on-campus at Yale and had a disheartening experience. I showed up wearing jeans because the dress I had packed and planned to wear ripped last-minute in a rather inappropriate location. My interviewer also asked only one question about me. I had to force information about myself into the conversation - and maybe testing my assertiveness and resilience was his very intent -, but it was overall a very unproductive, non-educational experience and a waste of thirty minutes. But, I still got in early. Don’t lose hope, and never count yourself out.


Brown University ‘20

I began to regret applying to Princeton after my interview. My interviewer was kind of a jerk, he came late and then, after hearing about my interests he was completely fixated on talking about my post-college plans. After I mentioned I was interested in Rabbinical school, he told me that I “don’t need to go to Princeton”. And after talking to him, I certainly didn’t want to!

Naomi Cutler

Middlebury College ‘20

I only interviewed with Middlebury because I was reluctant to reach out to other schools when visiting. Middlebury contacted me after my application was turned in and I accepted because I did not want to hurt my chances in any way. Although I have no idea if my interview had any influence on my acceptance, it was definitely a good life experience. I would recommend that students reach out at least to their top choice schools. It’s also great practice for a job interview someday!


Stanford University ‘20

I interviewed with most of the schools I applied to, but giving my experience for specific interviewers probably won’t help because every interviewer is different! Overall, I think the interview should be a place where you can show your personality and your passion. Don’t focus on your application details or just re-stating your EC list. Show why you joined those activities, what you feel about those activities. Demonstrate your interest in your major, or your intellectual curiosity. In my personal experience, the interviewers who are ‘nicer’ are often less helpful because they’ll let you get away with comfortably regurgitating your application details. If your interviewer doesn’t push you to go further in exploring your interests and passions, make sure to bring it up yourself!


Georgetown University ‘20

I interviewed with Pomona, Georgetown, Brown, and Tufts. My Georgetown, Tufts, and Pomona interviews lasted about an hour. For the Georgetown one, we mainly talked about my extracurriculars, why I wanted to go to Georgetown, and any questions I had about the school. Tufts and Pomona were similar, but my Pomona interviewer asked some more unexpected questions like “If you could give a TED Talk, what would it be?” and “What is your educational philosophy?” which I was not really expecting. My Brown interview went the best because one of my extracurricular activities related to my interviewer’s job, so we bonded over that, and because my interviewer was just really nice! Before getting my decisions back I thought interviews were a big deal, so I was really worried that I missed the deadlines for signing up for a few of my interviews. In the end it didn’t seem like the interviews made much difference, so I would look at them as a friendly conversation with someone getting to know you and not stress about them! Use it as a chance to show them your personality and try to bring out stories that aren’t included in the rest of your application!

Applying to college?
View the app files and essays of accepted students.

Are you just starting to build out your college list? Make sure to search through profiles of students accepted to see essays, stats, and advice. See how they got in, and how you can too!

About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.


Browse Successful Application Files

Brown ‘20

Accepted to Brown, Cornell, CMU, Wesleyan, William & Mary, Case, Villanova, Binghamton, RPI, WPI

Hi! I'm a sophomore at Brown University studying Biochemistry and English. I love writing, baking, hiking, and music.
Stanford ‘21

Accepted to Stanford, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley

My spirit animal is Pikachu (that is, a math/science, politics-loving Pikachu!)
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCSD, UCLA, UC Davis

I am a Frosh at Stanford studying studying engineering (computer science or other types) with a (possible) minor in the humanities. Go Trees!!!
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine

Technophile and Starbucks lover majoring in CS with a passion for STEM and the arts.

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