From “How would you characterize the culture?” to “What kind of student would thrive at this institution?,” here are 22 answers to the question, “What are the most helpful questions to ask a college admissions interviewer?”
Asking about the type of personality and culture of the college is a great question to ask a college admissions interviewer. You should be curious about what the college looks for during the interview process and what qualities are valued most by the college. The interviewer should be able to give you some insight into what they are looking for in a successful applicant so that you can be sure that you are presenting yourself in the best way possible.
Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely
I think it’s likely that the person doing a college interview is proud of the school, whether they are an alumnus, an admissions officer, or a mix of the two. You can learn a lot about whether or not the school’s ideals coincide with your own by listening to the interviewee wax poetically about their experiences or specific things the school has done that makes them proud.
Gerrid Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Joy Organics
It would be a good idea to ask the interviewer about the college’s efforts to advance a cause you’re really invested in, such as its efforts to promote diversity on campus or among its student body or its efforts to lessen its environmental impact. You should only want to show what issues you’re truly enthusiastic about, so only ask this question if there is a cause you’re actually invested in.
Edward Mellett, Co-Founder, Wikijob
Colleges are putting more stock in students who have a sense of social responsibility, so asking your college admissions interviewer about community involvement opportunities they provide is wise.
Every applicant that an interviewer speaks with is going to tout their academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and career aspirations, and while those are important, they will not make you stand out. Asking about community involvement opportunities demonstrates that you value the importance of giving back, that you understand shared responsibility in your community, and shows your eagerness to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
By asking a college admissions interviewer about community involvement opportunities, you let them know you view your role as a student as more than just about serving your own interests and, in doing so, will set you apart from other applicants.
Cody Candee, CEO, Bounce
Whatever I needed to do to reach my goals, I would do it. That statement has been said by countless people who have been highly successful in life. It doesn’t signify desperation; it’s a sign of determination—and a willingness to pay dues and learn.
If you’re a borderline candidate, which is usually why you book a college admissions interview, give the interviewer a strong impression by asking what else can be done between now and the time that final decisions are made to help your chances. Those same tactics could also help you if you wind up on the waiting list.
Don’t take “no” (or “nothing”) for an answer. Make them give you an answer. Don’t walk out that door until you show them how serious you are about wanting to be there and excelling after you get there.
Rachel Blank, Founder & CEO, Allara
Higher education is not just about the transmission of information but also the discovery of it, so asking what kind of research opportunities are available for student involvement is a great question to ask and impress your college admissions interviewer.
It is easy to forget that colleges play a large role in acquiring and disseminating information to both the public and private sectors, as this can be a major source of both prestige and funding. Therefore, asking about research opportunities can show that you are thinking seriously about specific fields, and possible specializations, as well as demonstrate your interest in service to both the school and the community.
In asking about research opportunities, you can showcase not only your dedication as a student but your willingness to go above and beyond general studies, and separate yourself from other applicants in the process.
David Derigiotis, CIO, Embroker
While you do want to make a great first impression, always remember that an interview is a two-way street. That being said, the interviewer would like to learn as much as the interviewee. The college admissions interview wants to make sure that you are the right candidate, as you also want to make sure that the college is the right fit for you.
It can be easy to get sidetracked by all the things the college has to offer but don’t forget that every college has its shortcomings. Not all colleges can and will offer the same experience. So, ask the interviewer if there is one thing the college has yet to accomplish that they would do in the foreseeable future. Doing so will give you a better idea of what they need to work on, and will give you an inkling as to whether it is in your best interest to attend that college.
Adrian Pereira, Co-Founder, Eco Pea Co.
Most schools exist to educate students, broaden their imaginations, develop their talents, and prepare them for the working world. However, listen closely for answers that go beyond these things to find the college or university that speaks to the reasons behind your own goals in life.
Perhaps you want to add beauty to the world through visual art, for example. Find an art school that seeks to make the world more beautiful, too, in addition to developing your skills. If you find a school whose mission aligns with the reasons why you want to do something in the world, you’ll likely find a real partner in your journey toward achieving your biggest dreams and aspirations.
Liza Kirsh, Chief Marketing Officer, Dymapak
I’m personally fond of this question because it does two things: show the interviewer that you’re already thinking about the future and continuing education, as well as the fact that you’d at least consider doing that master’s degree with the college in question. I think it mentally shifts the picture from whether or not you’ll get into what you will do after you’ve already been accepted, which is a powerful tipping point in attitude in favor of the applicant.
Kate Kandefer, CEO, SEOwind
The school newspaper reported students’ concerns about “X.” How about you elaborate? I think it’s great that you want to get connected with the school community enough to ask about something that was covered in the school newspaper. This demonstrates your desire to get involved in student government and other campus activities.
Kyle Bassett, Chief Operating Officer, Altitude Control
This query serves two objectives. It first demonstrates that you did your homework on this university and are interested in a certain program. Asking questions that can be easily answered by visiting the college’s website is not something you want to do. An excellent technique to talk about a program you’re interested in without coming across as unprepared is to use this question. This query demonstrates to admissions personnel that you have considered enrolling in this university.
Second, by asking this question, you are demonstrating that you are ambitious and future-focused enough to consider a career beyond college. Your curiosity and drive to put in the extra effort will be evident from open-ended and goal-oriented questions.
I would phrase the question around whichever department I plan on majoring in. So, if I wanted to apply to UCLA and major in economics, I would ask: “I am planning on majoring in economics. What makes your college unique with respect to your economics department?”
I think it’s great to put the interviewer on the spot. It might seem scary to be this bold because I am the one applying, but I should try to rethink the scenario. I am applying, but I know I am a quality student and that they would be lucky to have me at that college.
In that case, I should make them sell the college to me. It won’t come off as bold or rude. This type of question is a great way to show how serious I am about how college can help me get the most useful degree in my chosen major. Colleges are looking for serious students who are going to help grow their reputation.
William Varney, Product Strategist, Megaphone Marketing
What is a common challenge or obstacle students face, and how do they overcome it? Your questions should be thoughtful but sincere. If you ask questions simply because they make you look good, you’ll come across as disingenuous, so be sure that any question you ask is something you genuinely want to know.
Asking about common student challenges shows that you’re aware of the realities of a college education and are readily preparing yourself for the tougher times during school. Unfortunately, students who are not aware of those realities beforehand often face a harsh awakening when they realize how much more difficult post-secondary education will be, and many don’t make it to graduation day.
Beyond showing an interviewer that you’re ready to face those challenges head-on, their advice can be insightful for your decision-making process. If the answers they give do or don’t align with what you want out of your college education, you can choose the school that will be the best fit for you.
Maximilian Wühr, CGO & Co-Founder, FINN
Conceivably, this question could give you insight into various extracurriculars or research initiatives offered by the institution. Additionally, knowing details such as these can help the student decide if this particular school is tailored to their specific needs.
Asking this question may demonstrate to the interviewer your dedication to making an informed decision and equip them with valuable knowledge needed to determine whether or not their college would be the right fit for you.
Benjamin Okyere, Data Engineer, Stress Reliever
Colleges that promote inclusion and diversity will always be a good pick for most students. In fact, studying in a diverse and inclusive college can give you a lot of exposure to different cultures and perspectives in life, something that will ultimately make your college experience worthwhile.
For this reason, it is important to ask your admission interviewer if there are any active steps the college is undertaking to foster diversity and inclusion. Follow this up by asking how these efforts have worked out so far and if the college has achieved its overall diversity and inclusion goals.
Most colleges these days are trying to be as diverse as possible. There are even specific programs designed for minority groups, so make sure you ask about them as well.
Logan Nguyen, Co-Founder, MIDSS
This question shows that you’re thinking beyond just getting in; it shows that you’re considering how to stay in. It’s a forward-thinking question that admissions officers would find refreshing. Additionally, it might give you some ideas for a different way to approach a problem. Finally, it displays initiative to remain in the program, which shows the interviewer that you’ll take it seriously.
Dov Breuer, COO, Fixlers
This straightforward question warrants a clear answer, allowing students to learn more about the unique value they can gain from their decision to attend college. From programs that help their students stay up-to-date with current career trends in various industries to events that help them gain professional experience, the best colleges offer all this and more to give their students an edge.
The lineup of resources a college offers makes a big difference, with the availability of online learning courses and access to external professional programs setting colleges apart from their competitors.
Brendan McGreevy, Head of Strategy, Affinda
When being interviewed by a college admissions advisor or alumni, students should have several questions prepared beforehand. Make sure your questions tell them something about you. Try to avoid questions that can be easily answered by researching online, and don’t be afraid to ask about the interviewer’s own experiences on campus.
Asking the question, “How did this school prepare you for your career?” shows that you are focused on outcomes. I encourage students to use an interview to see if the school is indeed the best fit for them. Don’t ask questions you think they want to hear; ask questions that will help you determine whether or not you want to attend the university.
For example, if diversity is important to you, ask how the school supports diversity through initiatives, who they hire, and how they educate students on diversity and equity. There is no set script for asking questions; simply focus on what’s most important to you in deciding where you ultimately want to attend.
Alison Hamar, Education Consultant, Transizion
I love this question because it allows the interviewer to see how much thought you have put into evaluating your college experience and how it has helped shape who you are. It also gives them insight into your character, as they can gain a better understanding of what your values are and how those values have shaped your life. Asking this question will demonstrate that you value self-reflection and have had meaningful experiences that you are proud of.
Yaseen Shurbaji, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Prismfly
I would recommend asking this question because it provides a good indication of what the admissions committee is looking for in their applicants, and gives you a clearer picture of what the college values the most.
Also, this information can help to tailor your application and essay responses to the specific tastes, needs, and values of the admissions committee. It’s critical to understand what the committee is looking for and to assess yourself in the process.
Preston Powell, CEO, Webserv
You can’t outright ask what’s negative about the college, so this is a good way to receive some insight in a “nicer” way. The interviewer likely won’t say the worst things about the college, but if they answer honestly, you may leave with some telling and helpful details.
It’s of great importance that you weigh the pros and cons of the institution that you’re considering for postsecondary education. Thus, by asking what, if any, changes the interviewer would like to see about the college, you can get a few cons to consider to make an informed decision. It’s also possible that these changes won’t necessarily be cons at all for you personally, but it can still be valuable insight to consider nonetheless.
Nick Allen, Founder & CEO, SportsLingo
Asking the college admissions interviewer this question can help you understand the type of student the college values and is looking for in its applicants. This information can help you determine if the college is a good fit for you and if you would be a good fit for the college.
Additionally, understanding the characteristics of students who thrive at the institution can help you to highlight those traits in your application and during the interview, demonstrating your alignment with the college’s values and mission.